Anti-Treaty Soldier Richard Noonan


Anti-Treaty Soldier Richard Noonan (aged 18) of 12 Ninety-Eight Street, Cork (Cork Male Prison, Cork city)

Date of incident: 11 Oct. 1922

Sources: CE, 13 Oct. 1922; II, 13, 14 Oct. 1922; MSPC/DP2685 (Military Archives); List of IRA Interments (Boole Library, UCC); Cork One Brigade (1963), Roll of Honour; Last Post (1976 ed.), 99; Keane (2017), 313, 418; IRA Memorial, UCC.


Note: A republican prisoner, Richard Noonan died suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, 11 October 1922, in the Cork Male Prison in Cork city. His father John Noonan testified briefly at the military inquiry held into his son’s death. The father had last seen his deceased son at home six weeks earlier, when he was ‘in perfect health’. His son had been ‘away three weeks at Limerick and on his return was quite well’. The Captain of the Guard at the gaol insisted at the inquiry that Richard Noonan ‘had not previously made any complaint about his health’. When Noonan did suddenly show signs of serious illness about 4 p.m. on 11 October, the Captain of the Guard went at once for a doctor and a priest, who arrived within about ten minutes. The attending doctor J. P. Kelly reported at the inquiry: ‘I administered a stimulant immediately. He died practically immediately. There were no marks of violence. I am certain of this. . . . I am of opinion he died of heart disease.’ Dr Kelly’s opinion was seconded by Dr O’Driscoll, the medical officer in charge at the gaol. The court of military inquiry concluded that Richard Noonan had indeed ‘died of cardiac failure in accordance with the medical testimony, and that everything possible was done for him’. See CE, 13 Oct. 1922. Noonan was buried in the Republican Plot in St. Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork. See Last Post (1976 ed.), 99.

The pension file of Richard Noonan (born 1903) contains much material of importance on his IRA service and death. His service stretched from 1919 through the War of Independence, the Truce period, and the early part of the Civil War. He had been the commanding officer of the Fianna Éireann section of G Company of the Second Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade; he soon passed into the regular ranks of that company, battalion, and brigade. In civilian life he had been employed as a pawnbroker’s assistant in a pawnshop located at 4 Shandon Street in Cork. His death from cardiac arrest at the Cork Male Prison on 11 October 1922 was officially deemed to have resulted from his extended IRA service. He was active with the anti-Treaty IRA in Limerick after the outbreak of the Civil War and was arrested by National Army soldiers in August 1922 when he returned to Cork city for the funeral of his brother Thomas Noonan. Certain commentators stated that he had spent an unspecified period of time on a hunger strike while imprisoned. The victim’s father John Noonan was eventually awarded a partial-dependant’s gratuity of £112 10s. in 1939. See MSPC/DP2685 (Military Archives).      

Richard Noonan was in 1911 the eldest of the three sons of the builder’s carter John Noonan and his wife Catherine, who then resided at house 25 on Ninety-Eighth or ’98th Street in Cork. Their children ranged in age from 9 months to 6 years old. Richard Noonan was then aged 6.

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