Anti-Treaty Soldier (Brigadier General) Gibbs Ross
Anti-Treaty Soldier (Brigadier General) Gibbs Ross (aged about 30) of Glandarta near Skibbereen (William Street, Bantry)
Date of incident: 29-30 Aug. 1922
Sources: FJ, 31 Aug., 5 Sept. 1922; Belfast Newsletter, 1 Sept. 1922; Derry Journal, 1 Sept. 1922; CE, 1, 5, 25 Sept. 1922, 29 Aug. 1923; SS, 2 Sept. 1922; II, 5 Sept. 1922; MSPC/DP6399 (Military Archives); Rebel Cork’s Fighting Story, 207; Last Post (1976 ed.), 97; Boyne (2015), 180; Keane (2017), 300, 417; http://www.irishmedals.org/anti-treaty-killed.html (accessed 12 July 2017).
Note: IRA Commandant Gibbs Ross died while leading an attack by anti-Treaty IRA forces on the Post Office in Bantry. ‘An entrance [to the Post Office] was just effected by tunneling through from the adjoining building, and bombs were about being placed in position if the [National Army] garrison did not surrender. At this moment a shot came through the fan-light of the Post Office side entrance and hit Mr Ross in the head, piercing the brain and coming out at the other end. He lived for about 15 or 20 minutes thereafter and was attended by Very Rev. Canon [Martin] Murphy.’ See CE, 5 Sept. 1922.
This incident was part of a long-running battle in the town on the night of 29 August and most of the following day. Besides Ross, three other IRA soldiers were reportedly killed, while casualties among the National Army troops were said to have been ‘one dead and two wounded’. See CE, 1 Sept. 1922. The engagement was described as ‘the most alarming and terrifying fight ever witnessed . . . in the West Cork area and lasting [sic] well on 17 hours’. Killed along with Ross were his IRA comrades Patrick Cooney, Daniel McCarthy, and Michael J. Crowley as well as the National Army soldier John Hourihan. Ross, his three IRA comrades, and Hourihan were all interred on 1 September 1922 ‘in various cemeteries in the area’. Gibbs Ross ‘was a young man in the prime of life, unmarried, and a member of a very respectable county family, most widely and influentially connected’. See CE, 5 Sept. 1922. He had been a member of both the Bantry Rural District Council and the Bantry Board of Guardians. He was interred in the family burying place in Caheragh parish near Skibbereen. See SS, 2 Sept. 1922.
The pension file of Gibbs Ross provides valuable information about his record of IRA service and his prior activities. After joining the IRA in 1919, he held a series of high-ranking posts. According to Liam Deasy, Ross served as adjutant of the Seventh Battalion of the Cork No. 3 Brigade up to April 1921, then as adjutant of the Cork No. 3 Brigade from April to August 1921, and finally as commandant of the Cork No. 5 Brigade from August 1921 until his death on 30 August 1922. According to his mother, Gibbs Ross had served as a wireless operator on a British merchant ship during the First World War and had been shipwrecked off the Bantry coast in 1918. Ross had been born in 1891 and was said to have been 30 years old at the time of his death. His mother Jane Ross was awarded a partial-dependant’s allowance of £112 10s. in 1934 under the Army Pensions Acts. In 1945 his brother Samuel Ross was the recipient of a posthumous award to Gibbs Ross of a Service Medal (1917-21) with Bar in recognition of his distinguished IRA career. See MSPC/DP6399 (Military Archives).
Gibbs Ross was in 1911 one of the eleven children of the Glandarta farmer John Ross and his wife Jane. Of their eleven children, ten (seven sons and three daughters ranging in age from 10 to 32) co-resided with them on the family’s farm in that year. Gibbs Ross (then aged 14) was the youngest of the seven co-resident sons.