Civilian Maurice Christopher Ahern Jr
Civilian Maurice Christopher Ahern Jr (aged 24) of Monard near Whitechurch (Rathpeacon near Cork city)
Date of incident: 5 Oct. 1921
Sources: Death Certificate (Whitechurch District, Union of Cork), 5 Oct. 1921; CE, 7, 8 Oct. 1921, 5 Oct. 1922, 6 Oct. 1923; SS, 8 Oct. 1921; CWN, 15 Oct. 1921; RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork City and East Riding, Oct. 1921 (CO 904/116, TNA); Deposition in 1921 Inquest into Death of Maurcie Christopher Ahern, CRT/2003/1/6 (Cork City and County Archives); Gabriel (2013), 28-42.
Note: The death of Maurice Ahern Jr, a farmer’s son, occurred under disputed circumstances. Newspaper reports indicated that Ahern had been killed in a robbery. He was returning home on a cart from Cork city on Wednesday night, 5 October 1921, when he was shot dead on the public road at Rathpeacon. A man with a revolver fired the fatal shot to the head after Ahern had persistently refused to hand over a sum of money. See CE, 8 Oct. 1921; SS, 8 Oct. 1921; CWN, 15 Oct. 1921. Ahern’s death certificate also indicated that robbery was the motive of the unknown assailant who had killed him. See Death Certificate (Whitechurch District, Union of Cork), 5 Oct. 1921.
But the RIC took a different view of the matter. A police report for October 1921 recorded that ‘a member of the I.R.A. was found shot dead on the roadside near Cork on the 5th ult[imo]. The motive is not clear, but it is believed that the murder was committed by some of his fellow members owing to a local dispute in connection with their organisation.’ See RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork City and East Riding, Oct. 1921 (CO 904/116, TNA). This interpretation may have derived from the fact that a death notice in the Cork Examiner referred to the victim as Maurice Christopher Ahern (I.R.A.), aged 24 and the youngest son of Maurice Ahern [Sr]; the funeral service was to occur at Blarney Catholic church, followed by the burial at Garrycloyne. The Examiner also reported that the deceased’s relatives had made a full report to the IRA, of which Ahern was said to have been a member. See CE, 7 Oct. 1921. The perpetrator was observed by a witness to the killing to have exhibited an English accent.
In any case, the killing of Ahern was not accepted as an IRA death in the commemorative material drawn up for the Cork No. 1 Brigade or in the Last Post. His name does not appear in the IRA-company pension rolls. He received no IRA military honours at his funeral. And in an in memoriam notice published on the first anniversary of his death, no mention was made of the IRA. See CE, 5 Oct 1922. He therefore has not been counted here as a Volunteer.
Maurice Ahern Jr was in 1911 one of the four living children (five born) of the farmer Maurice Ahern Sr and his wife Abina. These four children (three sons and a daughter) co-resided with their parents in that year at house 32 in Monard townland near Whitechurch. Maurice Jr (then aged 13) was the youngest child.