Civilian Catherine (Kay) Feehely


Civilian Catherine (Kay) Feehely (aged about 26) of 19 Bachelor’s Quay, Cork (Patrick Street, Cork city)

Date of incident: 7 Dec. 1922

Sources: CE, 8, 20, 21, 22, 23 Dec. 1922, 20 Dec. 1923; Murphy (2010), Appendix 2, 338; Keane (2017), 341-42, 421.


Note: Along with nine other civilians, Feehily was wounded in a bomb attack on National Army soldiers in Patrick Street in Cork city on 7 December 1922. The bomb (a seven-second 36 Mill’s bomb) was thrown at a motorcar carrying two officers and a private opposite Paul Lane; it ricocheted off the door of the car onto the mudguard, and then rolled onto the footpath underneath the window of Lipton’s shop. There it exploded, shattering Lipton’s large plate-glass window and wounding numerous civilians either on Patrick Street or in Lipton’s shop. Revolver shots were also fired at the car from Paul Lane and Mutton Lane. The Free State troops unsuccessfully pursued the more than three men reportedly involved in the attack, but could not fire on them because the streets were so crowded. See CE, 8, 22 Dec. 1922. The Cork Examiner commented on 8 December: ‘Like so many other attacks of a similar nature, the bomb-thrower failed signally in his objective, unless indeed his avowed object was to injure civilians and damage the property of the citizens.’ Splinters of the bomb had struck Feehely in the right-hand side of the neck, severing the larger blood vessels on that side, and had also gone into the lung. She lingered for many days and actually seemed to be recovering but took a turn for the worse on 18 December and died at the Mercy Hospital on 20 December. See CE, 21, 22 Dec. 1922. 

The notorious incident was the subject of a court of military inquiry, which concluded that Feehely had ‘died as a result of an abscess of the lung, caused by a splinter of a bomb thrown at members of the National Army by some persons unknown in armed opposition to the Irish people’. See CE, 22 Dec. 1922. Yet another bomb was thrown at a military lorry in Washington Street on 22 December 1922 shortly after 6 p.m. as the streets were crowded with Christmas shoppers. Numerous civilians were wounded by splinters or pieces of shrapnel when the bomb bounced off the lorry and onto the roadway, where it exploded ‘with terrific force’. The noise could be heard all across the city. At least seven named civilians were wounded, several of them seriously. See CE, 23 Dec. 1922.

Catherine (Kay) Feehely was in 1911 one of the eight children (eleven born) of the Cork city house painter Charles Feheely and his wife Mary. Of these eight children, five (three sons and two daughters) co-resided with their parents at 19 Bachelor’s Quay. The children still living at home ranged in age from 14 to 27. Except for one brother, Catherine Feheely (then aged 15) was the youngest sibling.

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