National Army Soldier Michael McDonald


National Army Soldier Michael McDonald (aged 22) of Cassestown near Thurles, Co. Tipperary (Ring near Clonakilty)

Date of incident: 26 Dec. 1922

Sources: Death Certificate (Timoleague District, Union of Clonakilty), 26 Dec. 1922; CE, 29 Dec. 1922; MSPC/2D210 (Military Archives); O’Farrell, Who’s Who, 207; Keane (2017), 344-45, 421. 


Note: Free State troops patrolling in the Clonakilty district on St. Stephen’s Night in 1922 decided to conduct a raid on a public house at Ring, where suspicious activity had previously been observed. No sooner had they entered the pub than one of the six or seven ‘well-known Irregulars’ inside fired his revolver at them, killing National Army soldier Michael McDonald. One of McDonald’s comrades returned the fire and wounded a republican, but then the lights of the pub were extinguished, and by the time that light was restored, a few of the IRA men had escaped from the pub with their wounded comrade. Three republicans were subsequently caught, however, and taken prisoner. In a search of the premises afterwards, a Thompson gun was discovered under the counter of the pub. See CE, 29 Dec. 1922.

According to his death certificate, Private Michael McDonald (aged 22) had been struck by a bullet to the heart and died instantly. See Death Certificate (Timoleague District, Union of Clonakilty), 26 Dec. 1922. The Cork Examiner, the death certificate, and other sources commonly rendered this soldier’s surname as McDonnell or MacDonnell. See Keane (2017), 421.

Private Michael McDonald was a member of the Third Cork Brigade in the National Army. According to a Civic Guard report of 8 May 1924, his father possessed a small farm of just 11 acres, with a poor-law valuation of £5. There were six surviving children aged 6 to 18. Two of the six had been born since the 1911 census. Prior to joining the National Army, Michael McDonald had worked as ‘a labourer with contractors and earned on an average two pounds per week’, of which £1 15s. had gone to his mother for the upkeep of the family. His mother Mary Anne McDonald, considered heavily dependent on her deceased son, was awarded a gratuity of £75 in July 1924. She had previously received a dependant’s allowance of 28s. every fortnight from April to October 1923, along with  a lump sum in arrears (amounting to £34) calculated at this fortnightly rate back to the date of her son’s enlistment as a soldier on 1 May 1922. See MSPC/2D210 (Military Archives). 

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