National Army Soldier Jeremiah McDonald Jr


National Army Soldier Jeremiah McDonald Jr (aged about 38) of Froe near Rosscarbery (Tawnies near Clonakilty)

Date of incident: 18 Aug. 1922

Sources: Death Certificate (Clonakilty District, Union of Clonakilty), 18 Aug. 1922; CE, 22 Aug. 1922; II, 22 Aug. 1922; SS, 26 Aug. 1922; MSPC/2D379 (Military Archives); Keane (2017), 294, 416.


Note: The Cork Examiner reported that Private Jeremiah McDonald had been killed and another National soldier named Michael Collins had been wounded ‘at a place called Ballinanor [probably Ballinrougher], midway between Clonakilty and Rosscarbery’, on 18 August 1922, when a party of anti-Treaty republicans ambushed a force of National Army troops travelling from Skibbereen to Clonakilty. Both McDonald and Collins were said to be natives of the Rosscarbery district. See CE, 22 Aug. 1922. McDonald’s death certificate indicated that he had been killed at Tawnies in Kilgarriff parish in the Clonakilty district. See Death Certificate (Clonakilty District, Union of Clonakilty), 18 Aug. 1922. 

The Southern Star reported that as Free State forces, having already taken Rosscarbery, approached the town of Clonakilty on 18 August, ‘fire was opened on them near Mr Tom Hill’s creamery. A fatal bullet struck Volunteer MacDonald in the forehead and put an end to his young and valuable life.’ See SS, 26 Aug. 1922. The victim’s pension file indicates that he died on 18 August at ‘The Sand Pit, Clonakilty’, after having been struck in the head by a lead bullet. See Claim of Jeremiah McDonald Sr, 12 May 1924, MSPC/2D379 (Military Archives).

Following the ambush in which McDonald was killed, the Free State forces pushed eastward: ‘The Irregulars having retreated, the National troops continued their march to Clonakilty and were again ambushed within a short distance of the town. The Irregulars, after a brief action, were routed here, [with] the National troops sustaining no casualties. On entering Clonakilty, the National troops met with a most enthusiastic welcome.’ See CE, 22 Aug. 1922. 

Already by the time of the 1911 census, four of the ten living children (eleven born) of farmer Jeremiah McDonald Sr and his wife Mary had left the family farm in Froe townland near Rosscarbery. Five of their sons and one daughter remained at home; they ranged in age from 12 to 23. Jeremiah Jr was not among them. His brother Daniel McDonald was a butter maker at a local creamery, while two of his other brothers were farm assistants.

Private McDonald’s funeral ‘took place on Sunday [20 August] from the Clonakilty church to the family burying place at Rosscarbery and was the occasion of a magnificent tribute to the memory of the dead soldier. A tremendous gathering of people followed the remains to their last resting place. A section of the Free State troops stationed in Clonakilty accompanied the funeral to Cahirmore Cross, where it was met by a body of the force stationed in Rosscarbery. Full military honours were accorded at the graveside.’ Besides his father Jeremiah McDonald, the chief mourners included his brothers Patrick, Daniel, Timothy, Michael, James, and Bartholomew, as well as one married sister (Mrs Healy). See SS, 26 Aug. 1922. 

In his unsuccessful application for a gratuity under the 1923 Army Pensions Act, Jeremiah McDonald Sr maintained that his son ‘was killed in action with the National Army on the 18th August [19]22. He was shot by the irregular forces after the taking of Clonakilty. He was in charged [sic] of a company of men under the late General Shawn [sic] Hales.’ See Jeremiah McDonald Sr to Army Pensions Board, 2 Jan. 1926, MSPC/2D379.

In rejecting this claim, the board made it clear that the victim’s father was not needy enough—or at all. The Civic Guard report indicated the before joining the National Army, Jeremiah Jr had been employed as a sorter of mail at the G.PO. in London with a wage of about £3 per week (incorrectly stated as £7 weekly), from which he ‘contributed regularly’ to his father’s support. But there were as many as nine surviving children—eight sons and one daughter, ranging in age from 27 to 45. Of these nine children, three were married and did not contribute to their father’s support. But of the remaining children, one was working in the London G.P.O. and earning £5 a week; a second was employed in Cork city at £2 10s. per week; and a third was a creamery manager in Clonakilty drawing £3 a week. Of two sons working on the 12-acre family farm, one was an ex-captain in the National Army. Yet another son was a member of the Civic Guard. Except for the three who were married and the two working at home, all the other children (four in number) contributed to the support of their father. See Civic Guard Report (Superintendent’s Office, Bandon) to Secretary, Army Pensions Department, 11 June 1924, MSPC/2D379. The victim Jeremiah McDonald Jr had retired from the London G.P.O. in late November 1916 ‘on account of ill-health’, with a yearly pension of almost £35 and with a special retirement allowance of nearly £100. See S. A. Paterson (for Secretary, London G.PO.) to Secretary, Army Pensions Department, 5 Oct. 1924, MSPC/2D379.

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