Anti-Treaty Soldier Daniel O’Sullivan or Sullivan Jr


Anti-Treaty Soldier Daniel O’Sullivan or Sullivan Jr of Upper Barrack Street, Kinsale (at or near Upton)

Date of incident: 4 Oct. 1922

Sources: CE, 10, 14 Oct. 1922, 5 Oct. 1923; FJ, 10, 11 Oct. 1922; Belfast Newsletter, 10 Oct. 1922; Derry Journal, 11 Oct. 1922; SS, 14 Oct. 1922; Leinster Leader, 14 Oct. 1922; Anglo-Celt, 14 Oct. 1922; Donegal News, 14 Oct. 1922; Ulster Herald, 14 Oct. 1922; MSPC/DP6907 (Military Archives); Rebel Cork’s Fighting Story, 208; O’Farrell, Who’s Who, 219; Last Post (1976 ed.), 98; Keane (2017), 312, 418; http://www.irishmedals.ie/Anti-Treaty-Killed.php (accessed 13 July 2017).   


Note: Daniel O’Sullivan Jr was killed at or near Upton on 4 October 1922 while fighting with the anti-Treaty IRA. O’Farrell maintained that O’Sullivan had been killed while in National Army custody. See O’Farrell, Who’s Who, 219. The Last Post too stated baldly in its brief entry on him that O’Sullivan had been ‘murdered after being captured at Upton’. See Last Post (1976 ed.), 98. The official National Army report on the incident (quoted below) is not worthy of credit. It appears certain that O’Sullivan and his anti-Treaty IRA comrades Patrick Pierce (or Pearse) and Michael Hayes were shot while unarmed and in Free State custody.  

The Cork Examiner of 10 October 1922 reported that ‘the dead bodies of three Irregulars were brought to Kinsale Barracks at an early hour on Thursday morning [5 October 1922] from the Upton district, having been shot in an encounter with the National troops’. The official National Army report claimed that on Thursday evening, 5 October [in fact, Wednesday evening, 4 October], while its troops ‘were operating between Innishannon and Upton, three Irregulars attempted to cut off a small post. They were fully armed and called on to halt, and on refusing to do so, were fired on by the outposts. The Irregulars were shot dead, and on their bodies being searched, over 300 rounds of ammunition were found.’ The Free State troops had recently been ‘very active in this district, and about 60 prisoners have been taken, 50 of whom are confined in the barracks [at Kinsale], amongst them being Vice–Commandant Walsh’. See CE, 10 Oct. 1922.

The pension file of Daniel O’Sullivan Jr is instructive on several matters of importance. The file contains a memorial card for him (with a head-and-shoulders sepia photograph) stating that he had been killed on 4 October 1922. Also inserted into the file is an undated printed copy of a colour photograph of the headstone in Kinsale Abbey graveyard for Daniel O’Sullivan Jr (died 4 October 1922), Patrick Pearse (died 4 October 1922), and Willie Pearse (died 3 December 1927). This information is among the strongest evidence that the incident in which O’Sullivan, Patrick Pearse [or Pierce], and Michael Hayes were killed had occurred on 4 October 1922 rather than a day later, as indicated by other contemporary sources. We also learn from the pension file that the victim’s father Daniel O’Sullivan Sr was awarded a partial-dependant’s gratuity of £75 in 1934 under the Army Pensions Acts. His deceased son had been active in the Volunteers or the IRA from sometime in 1918 until his death, or throughout the War of Independence, the Truce period, and the early part of the Civil War. Signed handwritten statements concerning his death and IRA service found their way into the file from high-ranking IRA officers Tom Hales and Tom Kelleher. See MSPC/DP6907 (Military Archives).

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