Civilian James Coffey
Civilian James Coffey (aged about 24) of Breaghna, Enniskeen (Kilrush near Enniskeen)
Date of incident: 14 Feb. 1921
Sources: CE, 15, 18 Feb., 13 April 1921; CCE, 19 Feb. 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/147A/84 (TNA); Denis Collins’s WS 827, 14-15 (BMH); Rebel Cork’s FS, 207; Last Post (1976), 80; Coffey Brothers Memorial, Church of the Assumption Graveyard, Ahiohill; Memorial Cross, Kilrush, Enniskeen.
Note: The brothers James and Timothy Coffey of Breaghna, about 8 miles west of Bandon, ‘were taken from their father’s house at night and shot dead’ by a band of British loyalists on 14 February 1921. Sons of ‘a highly respectable farmer’, they were killed at Kilrush near Enniskeen. See CE, 15 Feb. 1921. These killings appear to have been a reprisal for the execution of Thomas Bradfield of Knockmacool as a suspected spy by the IRA.
The father of the Coffey brothers later testified that two armed men had forced their way into the house on the night of 14 February 1921 while about two dozen others remained outside. At daybreak the parents found the bodies of their sons in a field. Said the father James Coffey: ‘The head was nearly shot off one of them, and the other was shot in the neck. On a card on one body was written—“Vice Bradfield. Anti-Sinn Fein.” On the other body was [written] “Convicted of murder”.’ James Coffey described the recently murdered Protestant farmer Thomas Bradfield of Knockmacool as ‘one of the best neighbours he had’; on the very day before his killing, Bradfield had helped James Coffey with some farmwork. See CE, 13 April 1921. Republicans still listed no fewer than six suspects connected with this killing in the Truce period, though it is more likely that members of the crown forces had been responsible for the deaths of the Coffey brothers. See Hughes (2014), 181; Hart (1998), 285.
Police visited Ahiohill chapel, where the coffins of the two brothers were resting on the night before their scheduled funeral, and removed the bodies to Bandon Military Barracks for the purpose of a military inquiry, and only after the inquiry had been concluded were the bodies returned to the brothers’ relatives for interment. See CE, 18 Feb. 1921. The parents James and Margaret Coffey later sought compensation—£2,500 for each son. Awards of £1,250 were made in each case. The Coffey brothers were buried in Ahiohill Graveyard. A memorial to them on the road outside the Ahiohill Cemetery gives the date of their deaths as 14 February 1921.