Civilian and Ex-Soldier James Malone


Civilian and Ex-Soldier James Malone (aged about 34) of 31 Gerald Griffin Avenue, Cork (Fair Hill, Cork city)

Date of incident: 10 Dec. 1922 (probably killed as suspected spy by IRA)

Sources: Death Certificate (Cork Urban District, Union of Cork), 10 Dec. 1922; CE, 11, 12, 18 Dec. 1922; FJ, 13 Dec. 1922; Belfast Newsletter, 13 Dec. 1922; Nenagh News, 16 Dec. 1922; Evening Herald, 19 Dec. 1922; II, 18, 19 Jan. 1923; Murphy (2010), Appendix 2, 338; Keane (2017), 337-8, 420; http://www.irishmedals.ie/Civilians-Killed-Civil-War.php (accessed 11 Aug. 2017). 


Note: Two armed men came to James Malone’s sister’s house on the north side of Cork city at ‘about two o’clock’ in the morning of 10 December 1922 and took him a short distance away to the bottom of Fair Hill, where they and other accomplices riddled him with bullets. His body was removed to the mortuary of the North Infirmary. See CE, 11 Dec. 1922.

It emerged at a subsequent court of military inquiry that one of Malone’s brothers, who resided with him and their three sisters, had told Malone ‘to cheer up’ on the night when armed men came to the door, and had said that these nocturnal visitors ‘could not shoot him’, as he was a sick man with heart disease who had been under a doctor’s care for the last ten months. This brother admitted that prior to the arrival of the National Army in Cork in the previous August, James Malone was associated with the anti-Treaty IRA and used to provide military instruction and take part in drilling. His connection was said to have ceased with the coming of Free State troops to the city. The real problem was that about three weeks before his death James Malone had been arrested by the National Army and released after many days in custody. He was clearly worried about what might happen now, according to his brother: ‘He was very nervous when he came back to the house. . . . He used to be frightened and scared since his release.’ The court suspected that Malone had been shot as a spy or an informer since it asked one of the witnesses if any label had been found on Malone’s body. None had been, but the suspicion of his having become an informer was in all likelihood the reason why he was killed. The court recommended that since Malone’s death had deprived his three sisters of their sole support, the Free State military authorities might consider the release of William Malone, another brother, who was currently interned at the Curragh Camp in County Kildare. See CE, 18 Dec. 1922.

But as the Evening Herald noted about the three-day military inquiry into the death of the ex-soldier James Malone, ‘The evidence of the relatives was that the men that called to his house and took him out wore the uniform of National troops. A military witness gave evidence that National troops could not have shot him. The court found that [the] deceased died from wounds inflicted by persons unknown, [with] the said persons being guilty of wilful murder.’ See Evening Herald, 19 Dec. 1922.

National troops from Carrignavar, however, reported the discovery of an arms dump at Dublin Pike on 17 January 1923. Besides finding arms and ammunition of various types, these soldiers also discovered ‘3 [National] Army jackets and caps, which, it is believed, were recently used by men who shot the civilian James Malone in Gerald Griffin Street’ in Cork city on 10 December 1922. See II, 18 Jan. 1923.  This story was almost too convenient and too confident to have been accurate. 

James Malone was in 1911 one of the (at least) seven children of the widow Margret Malone of 9 Gerald Griffin Street in Cork city. These seven children (four daughters and three sons) co-resided with their mother in that year. They ranged in age from 7 to 25. Her eldest son James (then aged 23) was employed as a quay labourer. His elder sister Hannah, the oldest of the siblings, was aged 25 and worked as a general domestic servant. Her second son Stephen was employed as a messenger boy. And her third and youngest son William (who would later become a prisoner at the Curragh Camp) was still in school.

The Irish Revolution Project

Scoil na Staire /Tíreolaíocht

University College Cork, Cork,