Anti-Treaty Soldier (Section Commander) Patrick Francis McCarthy Jr


Anti-Treaty Soldier (Section Commander) Patrick Francis McCarthy Jr (aged about 22) of Murrahin Cross, Aghadown (Kilcoe parish) near Ballydehob (Skibbereen)

Date of incident: 3 July 1922

Sources: Death Certificate (Bandon District, Union of Bandon), 4 July 1922; CE, 5, 6 July 1922; CC, 6 July 1922; SS, 8 July 1922; MSPC/7700 (Military Archives); William Crowley’s WS 1502, 15 (BMH); Rebel Cork’s Fighting Story, 207; O’Farrell, Who’s Who, 217; Last Post (1976 ed.), 96; Bielenberg et al. (2015), 126-27; Keane (2017), 289-90, 415; Cork No. 5 Brigade Memorial, Bantry.


Note: IRA Section Commander Patrick McCarthy Jr was seriously wounded early on the moring of 3 July 1922 in the encounter between Free State and republican forces at Skibbereen. He died the next day at a Bandon hospital (Clancoole Nursing Home) from the wounds he had received while fighting against the Provisional Government. See CE, 5, 6 July 1922; SS, 8 July 1922. He was interred in Kilcoe parish near Skull. See Last Post (1976 ed.), 96. His burial site is located near Lisheen in a graveyard beside the ruined Protestant church along the estuary. His name is recorded on the memorial of the Cork No. 5 Brigade situated in the middle of Bantry.   

On Saturday night, 1 July 1922, a column of IRA soldiers (drawn from the Cork No. 1, No. 3, and No. 5 Brigades) under the command of Brigadiers Gibbs Ross and Tom Hales entered Skibbereen just before midnight. Ross and Hales called upon the Free State forces to vacate the barracks and hand it over to the anti-Treaty IRA. The National Army leaders in Skibbereen refused to comply, declaring that ‘they were appointed custodians of the barracks by the Provisional Government and would hold them for that body’. Beginning at about 8 p.m. on Sunday, 2 July, the anti-Treaty forces invested the barracks and occupied a series of important buildings in the town. Full-scale hostilities commenced at 10 p.m. on Sunday and continued until a truce was declared at about 7 p.m. on Tuesday, 4 July. Under the terms of the agreement then reached between the two sides, ‘the defenders handed over the barracks, together with all arms and munitions’, and the forces led by Ross and Hales occupied it. Casualties were described as ‘light’, but there was one fatality on the IRA side—Volunteer Patrick McCarthy Jr of Skeaghanore Company, First Battalion, Cork No. 5 Brigade. See SS, 8 July 1922.

Another report of McCarthy’s death was accompanied by a succinct account (dated 5 July 1922) of the battle waged for control of Skibbereen: ‘After a siege since Sunday last [2 July], the Free State garrison occupying the barracks here evacuated the place, handing it over to the Republican forces, who are in possession. The end of operations was very prolonged and persistent, [with] a terrible fire being poured upon the building [occupied by National troops], which was responded to with equal vigour by the defenders. All classes of arms were used. The streets, particularly Market Street, overlooked by the barracks, bear evidence of the intensity of the fire. Windows were smashed and window frames torn from their places. In the walls are opes [openings] through which guns were trained, while walls and roofs are pitted with hundreds of bullet marks. The Bank of Ireland, a fine building, was early occupied by the Republican troops, and it too bears the marks of conflict in gaping window[s] and broken masonry. No shops were opened during the battle, and the pedestrians deserted the streets swept by rifle fire. To-day [5 July] the streets are patrolled by the Republican guards, but otherwise the normal life of the town has been resumed.’ Quoted from Cork Constitution, 6 July 1922, in SS, 8 July 1922.

Patrick McCarthy’s pension file indicates that he served with the IRA from 1919 onwards, first with the Cork No. 3 Brigade during the War of Independence and then with the Cork No. 5 Brigade during the Civil War. He reportedly took part in the IRA ambush at Kilmichael and in the attack on Skull Barracks during the War of Independence. In civilian life he had worked as a fisherman. The copy of his death certificate in the file states that he was 22 years old at the time of his death on 4 July 1922. He had been born in 1899. His sister Elizabeth Jane McCarthy was finally awarded a dependant’s allowance under the 1953 Army Pensions Act after having submitted unsuccessful applications between 1933 and 1938. See MSPC/7700 (Military Archives).

Patrick McCarthy Jr was in 1911 one of the four living children (seven born) of the Murrahin South farmer Patrick McCarthy Sr and his wife Fanny, whose land lay near Skull and Ballydehob. In that year three of these children (two sons and one daughter named Elizabeth Jane), ranging in age from 8 to 19, co-resided with their parents at Murrahin. Of those still living at home, Patrick McCarthy Jr (then aged 11) was described as a farmer’s son in the census.

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