Volunteer Michael John O’Mahony

Volunteer Michael John O’Mahony (aged 18) of Railway Street, Passage West (Passage West)

Date of incident: 20 Feb. 1921

Sources: Military Inquests, WO 35/157A/28 (TNA); MSPC/RO/37 (Military Archives); Roll of Honour, Cork No. 1 Brigade (Cork Public Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork); Volunteer Michael John O’Mahony Memorial, Passage West; ‘Local Volunteer Shot Dead at Passage West’, http://homepage.eircom.net/~corkcounty/passage.html (accessed 3 Jan. 2015).


Note: A member of B Company of the Ninth Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade, O’Mahony died of wounds received while in action against British forces at Passage West on 20 February 1921. Members of the Passage West Volunteer Company under the command of their captain Jack Twomey took up an ambush position in Passage West between the Wesleyan Methodist chapel and Lucia Place with the intention of ambushing an RIC party returning from Glenbrook. It has been suggested that the Tans had been alerted to the planned ambush and seized the initiative: ‘Suddenly and without warning one of them drew his revolver and fired in the direction of the concealed ambushers; after a short exchange of fire the police retreated towards Glenbrook. One of the Spillanes [Daniel or Christopher] received a slight hand wound, while O’Mahony . . . was badly wounded in the thigh, possibly from a richoceting bullet. The republicans withdrew and O’Mahony was taken to a safe house at Glenbrook Glen. During the next couple of weeks he had to be moved several times to avoid detection by the British. However, he died on February 28, 1921 [sic] and was buried in the Old Church graveyard in Passage. Michael John O’Mahony was a relation of Henry O’Mahony, who was commandant of the local 9th Battalion.’

Michael John O’Mahony’s father Thomas ‘was a member of the Passage West Town Commissioners, who on 1st March 1921 passed a resolution proposed by Michael O’Connell and seconded by W. H. Moisten: “That we tender our esteemed colleague Mr Thomas O’Mahony, T.C., and to Mrs O’Mahony our sincere sympathy in the sad loss they have sustained in the untimely death of their dear son Jack and that we adjourn the meeting as a mark of respect”.’

See http://homepage.eircom.net/~corkcounty/passage.html (accessed 3 Jan. 2015).

A military inquest came to the misleading conclusion that Michael John O’Mahony had been murdered by some person or persons unknown. The inquest revealed that O’Mahony, a shipwright’s apprentice at the Passage West Dockyard, had received medical intervention sometime before 21 February 1921 for a serious wound. While he was injured in this way, his brother reportedly went to see him at the dockyard and later in the hospital. He told his brother: ‘I hope they don’t take me out of hospital. They came twice for me and released me again.’ His brother understood the word ‘they’ to mean members of the military. See Military Inquests, WO 35/157A/28 (TNA).

A later pension claim confirmed that O’Mahony was a member of B Company of the Ninth Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade, and that at the age of 18½ he had been mortally wounded in an encounter at Passage West with British forces on 20 February 1921, dying eight days later in hospital. See MSPC/RO/37 (Military Archives). In 1911 Michael John O’Mahony (then aged 8) was the second of the four surviving and co-resident sons (six children born) of the unemployed shipwright Thomas O’Mahony and his wife Margaret of 22 Strand Street in Monkstown.  

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