Civilian William Ahern or Aherne


Civilian William Ahern or Aherne (aged about 30) of Model Cottages, Bishopstown, Cork (Curragheen Road, Cork city)

Date of incident: 7 Nov. 1922 (killed as suspected spy by IRA)

Sources: Death Certificate (Cork Urban District, Union of Cork), 7 Nov. 1922; CE, 8, 9 Nov. 1922; FJ, 9 Nov. 1922; Belfast Newsletter, 9 Nov. 1922; SS, 11 Nov. 1922; Murphy (2010), Appendix 2, 338; Keane (2017), 321, 419.


Note: William Aherne’s body was ‘found on Tuesday night [7 November 1922] on the roadside a short distance to the west of the city’. See FJ, 9 Nov. 1922. Aherne had been shot about six times, including through the mouth, in the neck, and at the left side near the lung. Two civilians discovered his body on the Curragheen Road (near his residence) at about 9:30 p.m. See CE, 8 Nov. 1922.

The father of William Aherne testified at the court of military inquiry held at the Imperial Hotel in Cork on 8 November. He was a widower, he noted, and his family consisted of this dead son and a daughter. He had rushed to the scene of his son’s killing—‘about two fields back from his own house, on the Curragheen Road’. He had found the hands and other parts of his son’s body quickly going cold: ‘When I caught his hands, I found a card which was across his body, and on which was written: “Spy. Beware—I.R.A.” He had Michael Collins’s memorial card in his pocket.’ William Aherne ‘had been weak-minded from birth’. He ‘would do things’, said his father, ‘without meaning anything’. The court concluded that the victim had been murdered ‘by some person or persons in armed opposition to the National Army’. See CE, 9 Nov. 1922.

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