Anti-Treaty Soldier James O’Callaghan


Anti-Treaty Soldier James O’Callaghan (aged about 21) of Garranachole near Castletownroche (Killavullen near Fermoy)

Date of incident: 16 Oct. 1922

Sources: FJ, 20 Oct. 1922; CE, 21 Oct. 1922; MSPC/RO/41A (Military Archives); Army Bulletin, vol. 1, no. 18, 20 Oct. 1922; IE MA-HS-A-901 (Military Archives); Farrell, Who’s Who (1997), 218; Keane (2017), 315, 418; O’Callaghan Memorial, Killavullen.  


Note: The Free State Army reported that the IRA soldier James O’Callaghan had been found dead with a rifle and twenty rounds of ammunition in a field near Killavullen on 17 October 1922. See CE, 21 Oct. 1922; Army Bulletin, vol. 1, no. 18, 20 Oct. 1922; IE MA-HS-A-901 (Military Archives). O’Callaghan is commemorated by a metal memorial cross located today opposite Shanahan Car Sales at Killavullen, where it is noted that he was killed in action on 16 October 1922. His membership in A Company of the Killavullen Battalion of the Cork No. 2 Brigade and his service as an anti-Treaty IRA intelligence officer were recorded in official company rolls. See MSPC/RO/41A (Military Archives). The death of James O’Callaghan is commemorated on the republican memorial at the graveyard in Kilcrumper near Fermoy. The memorial records his date of death as 16 October 1922.

The special correspondent of the Freeman’s Journal, reporting from Cork city on 18 October 1922, provided the following account of the incident in which James O’Callaghan was killed: ‘National troops travelling in a Crossley tender from Mallow were ambushed near Castletownroche last night [17 October] by a party of Irregulars, who attempted to hold up their car on the road. One of the attackers was shot dead. Darkness having fallen, the ambushers apparently mistook the tender for a civilian motor. Some of the party having come into the middle of the road to hold up [the car] with revolvers, the driver of the tender was ordered to speed ahead, and the troops opened fire with a Lewis gun and rifles on the Irregulars, who now realising what they were up against, crossed the ditch and returned the fire. . . . Subsequently, a stronger force proceeded to the scene of the attack and discovered a dead Irregular named Callaghan lying behind a ditch with his revolver beside him. Part of his hand was blown away, apparently by the fire of the Lewis gun.’ See FJ, 20 Oct. 1922. 

James O’Callaghan was in 1911 one of the six living children (seven born) of the agricultural labourer Henry O’Callaghan and his wife Ellen. These six children included four sons and two daughters ranging in age from 1 to 12; they co-resided with their parents at house 1 in Garranachole townland in Clenor parish near Fermoy. James O’Callaghan (then aged 10) was their second living son

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