National Army Soldier (Lieutenant) Daniel O’Leary or Leary


National Army Soldier (Lieutenant) Daniel O’Leary or Leary (aged 25) of Sheans, Ballyhar, Killarney, Co Kerry (Drimoleague)

Date of incident: 30 Nov. 1922  

Sources: Death Certificate (Dunmanway District, Union of Dunmanway), 30 Nov. 1922 [misdated 2 Dec. 1922]; MSPC/2D265 (Military Archives); Keane (2017), 331, 419.


Note: Lieutenant Daniel O’Leary was fatally wounded at Drimoleague on 30 November 1922 by one of his own comrades. The fatal bullet entered his side and passed through his lung. On 26 November, when under the command of Brigadier-General Seán Hales, O’Leary had been ordered to go to Drimoleague with a column of National troops and to take control of the town, a task that he accomplished. But four days later tragedy struck: ‘On November 30th something approaching mutiny broke out in the ranks of his column. It is not quite clear exactly how [the] deceased met his death, but it appears that in the endeavour to quell the trouble, a shot was fired, and Lieut. O’Leary fell, mortally wounded.’ See Colonel S. Murphy (Southern Command HQ, Michael Barracks, Cork) to Adjutant General (GHQ, Dublin), 14 Feb. 1924. O’Leary had been an active Volunteer during the War of Independence from 1918 to the Truce of July 1921, serving with A Company of the Fourth (Killarney) Battalion of the Kerry No. 2 Brigade. See MSPC/2D265 (Military Archives). His death was officially recorded as having taken place from shock and haemorrhage owing to gunshot wounds after four hours at the Dunmanway Union Hospital on 2 December 1922 (an incorrect date). He died on 30 November. See Death Certificate (Dunmanway District, Union of Dunmanway), 30 Nov. 1922 [misdated 2 Dec. 1922].

Daniel Leary (as his surname was spelled in the 1911 census) was then one of the eight children of the farmer Humphrey Leary and his wife Lizzie. All eight of these children (five daughters and three sons) were co-resident with their parents in that year at house 1 in Sheans East townland (Ballyhar) near Killarney. The children ranged in age from 4 months to 15 years. Daniel Leary (then aged 13) was the second son.     

In the early 1920s the Leary or O’Leary family owned or held a farm of some 94 acres (mostly wasteland and bog) at Sheans near Killarney. In civilian life Lieutenant O’Leary had been a farm labourer, presumably on the family’s holding. His father Humphrey and his wife Lizzie were now the parents of nine children. One of their sons was in the Civic Guard and one of their daughters had emigrated to America, but neither was sending home money to help to support the family. Humphrey O’Leary was awarded a gratuity of £120, but Daniel’s sister Julianne’s claim was unsuccessful. See Civic Guard Report of 15 March 1924, MSPC/2D265.

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