Civilian Robert Eady

Civilian Robert Eady (aged 40) of Clogheen Cross near Clonakilty (near Clogheen Cross)

Date of incident: 11 Feb. 1921 (killed as suspected spy by IRA)

Sources: CE, 12 Feb. 1921; CCE, 12, 19 Feb. 1921; CC, 15 Feb. 1921; CWN, 19 Feb. 1921;

RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork West Riding, Feb. 1921 (CO 904/114,

TNA); Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA); Ted Hayes’s WS 1575, 8 (BMH); Abbott (2000), 277-78; Fitzgerald (2012), 189; Ó Ruairc (2016), 120.


Note: The labourer Robert Eady was awakened by loud knocks on his door in Clonakilty at about 1 a.m. on 11 February 1921; his dead body was found later that day near the village of Clogheen with bullet wounds in the back and the head. ‘A label was pinned to his back bearing the words, “Spies and informers beware”.’ See CE, 12 Feb. 1921. Eady had long been under suspicion of giving information to the RIC. His activities were closely monitored by the intelligence staff of the Clonakilty Battalion of Cork No. 3 Brigade (including Ted Hayes) in December 1920 and January 1921. When he was seen visiting the RIC barracks in Clonakilty ‘dressed up as a woman in a hooded cloak’, this only increased IRA suspicions. He was arrested, tried by court-martial, and executed as a spy. See Ted Hayes’s WS 1575, 8 (BMH). Aged 40, Eady left a wife and three young children, the eldest of whom was just four years old.

But the IRA’s intelligence may well have been mistaken. In a letter from RIC District Inspector Michael Keany of Clonakilty to Monsignor O’Leary, which was publicly read at Mass, it was revealed that Eady had gone to the police station seeking assistance to leave the country in order to support his wife and three children, since he had recently been discharged from his employment and required documentation and other help in getting to England. Beyond this approach, Inspector Keany insisted, there had never been any communications from Eady or his family with the RIC barracks. See CCE, 19 Feb. 1921; Fitzgerald (2012), 189. This evidence collectively suggests that Eady was an innocent victim. (District Inspector Keany was to be shot dead in Clonakilty on 11 February 1922. See Abbott [2000], 277-78.)

In addition, the section of A Record of the Rebellion in Ireland, 1920-21, dealing with military intelligence indicates that in February 1921 (in the view of British army intelligence) the IRA was in almost all cases killing people who had not supplied information. See Hart (2002), 28. As previously noted, Eady may have entered the RIC barracks for other reasons. Moreover, the fact that full liability was later not accepted on the British side, and that instead a notation of ‘agreed 50/50’ was entered in Eady’s case, suggests that he had not provided information. Compensation of £2,000 was awarded to his widow Katie and others. See Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA).

In 1911 Robert Eady was one of the nine living children (twelve born) of the Knockaphonery farmer John Benjamin Eady and his wife Bridget. Robert Eady and his twin brother Patrick (aged 29) were the eldest of the five children who were then still co-resident with their parents. The Eadys were Catholic.

The Irish Revolution Project

Scoil na Staire /Tíreolaíocht

University College Cork, Cork,