National Army Soldier Denis McCarthy


National Army Soldier Denis McCarthy (aged 22) of 86 Barrack Street, Cork city (Barrack Street, Cork)

Date of incident: 29 Aug. 1922

Sources: Death Certificate (Cork Urban District No. 7, Union of Cork), 29 Aug. 1922; CE, 30, 31 Aug. 1922; FJ, 31 Aug. 1922; Belfast Newsletter, 1 Sept. 1922; Kilkenny People, 2 Sept. 1922; MSPC/2D413 (Military Archives); Murphy (2010), Appendix 2, 338; Boyne (2015), 177; Keane (2017), 299, 416; http://www.irishmedals.ie/National-Army-Killed.php (accessed 7 July 2017).


Note: A member of the First Cork Reserves, Private Denis McCarthy had just left his residence at 86 Barrack Street in Cork city at about 10 p.m. on 29 August 1922 to return to his military station when a party of armed men shot him dead through the heart. Having heard the shots, his wife ‘at once ran to where her husband was lying in a pool of blood to find that the poor man was beyond all human aid’. His assailants were unsuccessfully chased ‘by many of the large crowd who were on the street at the time’. McCarthy was unarmed; he ‘had only joined the National Army when the troops arrived in Cork’. McCarthy had taken the benefit of a day’s leave to visit his wife and child at their home. See CE, 30 Aug. 1922.

At the inquest on 30 August the victim’s father, the labourer Patrick McCarthy of 20 Rochford’s Lane in Cork, identified the body as that of his son Denis, who was married and aged 22. A relative of the deceased soldier, Miss M. O’Donoghue of Bandon Road in Cork, reported having spoken to the victim on Barrack St on the night of his death and shortly afterwards having seen ‘three young men at the top of Vicar Street. They were in the centre of the lane, which was dark. These men wore big heavy trench coats and black velour hats which were pulled down over their eyes. She didn’t know them and she went home. About twenty minutes later, she heard two shots, and on returning to Barrack St, she saw the deceased dead in Mr Kenefick’s publichouse. She did not see the deceased having any firearms.’ See CE, 31 Aug. 1922. The inquest jury returned a verdict of ‘wilful murder’ in the killing of National soldier Denis McCarthy on Tuesday, 29 August. See FJ, 31 Aug. 1922.

Private McCarthy had previously served in the British army with the Royal Irish Regiment and was discharged with a weekly pension of 12s. Subsequently, he worked for Messrs R. H. Hall, corn merchants on the South Mall in Cork. Though this employment was not constant, he earned about 16s. a day or roughly £4 a week. His widow Ellen McCarthy had two very young children and was not in employment. She received an allowance of £4 11s. each fortnight from army funds up to 6 May 1924. She was eventually awarded (in January 1925) a regular allowance of 17s. 6d. per week during her widowhood. Her two children were also granted small allowances. When she later remarried, she received a remarriage gratuity of £45 10s. See MSPC/2D413 (Military Archives).

Denis McCarthy was in 1911 one of the six living children (nine born) of the general labourer Patrick McCarthy and his wife Mary of 158 Bandon Road in Cork city. Of these six children, five (all sons) co-resided with them in that year. They ranged in age from 4 to 14. Denis McCarthy, the third of these sons, was then 10 years old.

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