Volunteer James Glavin

Volunteer James Glavin (aged about 19) of 103 French’s Avenue, Cobh (Clonmult)

Date of incident: 20 Feb. 1921 (killed after surrender)

Sources: CE, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 Feb. 1921; II, 24, 25 Feb., 9 March 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/155A/53 (TNA); Seán O’Mahony Papers, MS 44,047/3 (NLI); Joseph Aherne’s WS 1367, 52-58 (BMH); Michael Kearney’s WS 1418, 21-23 (BMH); Patrick J. Whelan’s WS 1449, 51-58 (BMH); John P. O’Connell’s WS 1444, 15 (BMH); John Kelleher’s WS 1456, 23-24 (BMH); Patrick J. Higgins’s WS 1467, 3-7 (BMH); Diarmuid O’Leary’s WS 1589, 4-8 (BMH); Roll of Honour, Cork No. 1 Brigade (Cork Public Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork); Last Post (1976), 81; O’Neill (2006), 62, 96-100; Borgonovo (2007), 88; McCarthy (2008), 232; ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 84-85, 143; Rebel Cork’s FS, 190-95; Sheehan (2011), 125; Midleton IRA Memorial, Main Street, Midleton; Cork No. 1 Brigade Memorial, Holy Rosary Cemetery, Midleton; Clonmult Ambush Site Memorial; Clonmult Village Memorial; http://midletonheritage.com/2015/12/11/few-families-suffered-as-we-did-war-of-independence-pension-files-associated-with-midleton/ (accessed 13 March 2016).    


Note: A member of A Company of the Fourth Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade, Volunteer James Glavin was killed after surrendering at Clonmult. He had been an active Volunteer for twenty months prior to his murder. His remains and those of his Cobh comrade James Ahern arrived from Victoria Barracks in Cork city at Cobh on Wednesday night, 23 February 1921, when they were deposited in the mortuary chapel of St Colman’s Cathedral. ‘The coffins, draped with the republican colours, were followed by a large concourse. Military were on duty in the streets as the procession passed but did not interfere. Shops remained closed the whole day, and no work was done at Rushbrooke dockyard.’ See II, 24 Feb. 1921.

There were extraordinary scenes when Glavin and Ahern were buried together after a Requiem Mass at 11 a.m. the next day: ‘The chimes of St Colman’s Cathedral pealed “Let Erin Remember” as in the one grave at the old church cemetery were interred the two Cobh victims. The huge attendance resembled the memorable procession at the funerals of the Lusitania victims. Republican flags covered the coffins, and there were a great number of wreaths. [The] military ordered shops to open in the morning, but those in the streets through which the cortege passed were closed.’ See II, 25 Feb. 1921.

British military authorities sought to explain away the killing of Volunteers such as James Glavin after their surrender at Clonmult. What made this cover-up more difficult was that the seven of the eight surviving Clonmult prisoners had legal representatives at the subsequent military inquiry who closely interrogated one British army officer in particular. He testified as follows: ‘No man under witness’s command fired at a prisoner who had his hands up. No officer in the army would fire at a prisoner who had his hands up. The Auxiliary police, under their own officers, were there. . . . Two men were shot in the yard and two behind the house while running away. Others were shot in the field trying to escape. Some of the 6 men who came out [of the farmhouse] with their hands up may have been shot in the general melee. With the exception of 4 men, the others who came out of the house were unarmed.’ See II, 9 March 1921.

Volunteer James Glavin was in 1911 one of the five co-resident children (four sons and one daughter) of the Cobh labourer William Glavin and his wife Katie, who had married while still very young (his wife was about 16 and her husband about 18 when they had wed). James Glavin (then aged 9) was the third of their four sons in 1911.

In his pension application relating to the IRA service of his dead son, the father William Glavin stated in February 1924 that prior to James’s death he (the senior Glavin) had earned £3 a week in the employment of the British naval authorities at Haulbowline in Cobh, but that ‘on account of the circumstances of his [James’s] death, the applicant was immediately dismissed from British employment. The applicant . . . is not of robust constitution and is currently earning his living as a jarvey.’ He claimed that even at the time of his son James’s death, he had been partially dependent on his deceased son’s income—a claim that was necessary for validation of some payment. Before joining the Volunteers, James Glavin had worked as a telephone operator in Haulbowline and earned twenty-five shillings a week, of which he had contributed £1 to his father. Four other members of the family living at home in 1924 were said by the local Gardaí to be making no contributions to the father’s income. The father was awarded a gratuity of £50 under the Military Service Pensions Act of 1923. See http://midletonheritage.com/2015/12/11/few-families-suffered-as-we-did-war-of-independence-pension-files-associated-with-midleton/ (accessed 13 March 2016).

The Irish Revolution Project

Scoil na Staire /Tíreolaíocht

University College Cork, Cork,