Volunteer Patrick Donovan or O’Donovan

Volunteer Patrick Donovan or O’Donovan (aged 21) of Cullenagh near Courtmacsherry (Ballincollop near Timoleague)

Date of incident: 16 Jan. 1921

Sources: Death Certificate, 16 Jan. 1921 (District of Timoleague, Union of Clonakilty); II, 25 Jan. 1921; Kerryman, 29 Jan. 1921; CCE, 29 Jan., 19 March 1921, 21 Jan. 1922; Military Inquests, WO 35/149A/31 and WO 35/151A/53 (TNA); Irish White Cross Statements, O’Rahilly Papers, U 118, Box 53, Statement 52/21 (Boole Library, UCC); John O’Driscoll’s WS 1250, 20, 36 (BMH); Michael Coleman’s WS 1254, 9-10 (BMH); Charles O’Donoghue’s WS 1607, 9 (BMH); Rebel Cork’s FS, 207; Barry (1949, 1989), 67, 103, 236; Last Post (1976), 79.


Note: A farmer’s son, unmarried and aged 21, Donovan was mortally wounded at about 4 p.m. on 16 January 1921 near Butlerstown House; he died soon afterward (of a bullet wound in the right chest) at Ballincollop in the Timoleague district. His father found his body. See Military Inquests, WO 35/149A/31 and WO 35/151A/ 53 (TNA).

Tom Barry reported that Essex Regiment soldiers had captured Donovan and murdered him on 17 January 1921 (a statement in court in January 1922 fixed 16 January 1921 as the date of his death). His comrade John O’Driscoll recorded that Donovan had been shot dead while going with others to a Volunteer parade in the midst of a British military roundup. See John O’Driscoll’s WS 1250, 20, 36 (BMH).

A local newspaper referred to the incident as the ‘Clonakilty Tragedy’. The newspaper reported: ‘During the past week military and police were actively engaged making raids, searches, and arrests in the Barryroe, Timoleague, Clonakilty, Kilmeen, Rosscarbery, and Ardfield district[s]. Several military lorries made a great swoop in [the] Barryroe and Timoleague districts and effected 25 arrests. A young man named Donovan was standing by the roadside, and seeing a military lorry approaching, ran away when called upon to halt and was shot dead.’ See CCE, 29 Jan. 1921 

As local historians suggest, the killings of Volunteers Patrick Donovan and Denis Hegarty may have led to the IRA executions of John Good and his son William Good as suspected spies on 10 and 26 March 1921 respectively. (The dead Volunteer Denis Hegarty had been an employee of the Protestant farmer John Good of Barryshall near Timoleague. See CCE, 19 March 1921.)

The victim’s father John Donovan claimed £8,000 at the Bandon quarter sessions in January 1922 for the death of his son Patrick at Ballincollop at the hands of British soldiers twelve months earlier. County Court Judge Hynes, however, granted only £500. See CCE, 21 Jan. 1922. Patrick Donovan was in 1911 one of the three children (one son and two daughters) of the Cullenagh farmer John Donovan and his wife Margret. Volunteer Donovan was buried in Timoleague. 

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