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National Army Soldier Michael Francis Behan Jr


National Army Soldier Michael Francis Behan Jr (aged 21) of 15 St Paul’s Street, Dublin (Grand Parade, Cork city)

Date of incident: 2 Sept. 1922

Sources: CE, 4, 6 Sept. 1922; Evening Herald, 4, 5, 6 Sept. 1922; FJ, 4, 7 Sept. 1922; FSS Cork Civil War Deaths; MSPC/2D191 (Military Archives); Boyne (2015), 177; Keane (2017), 302-3, 417; (accessed 3 July 2017).


Note: The special Cork correspondent of the Freeman’s Journal gave the following account on Saturday, 2 September 1922: ‘The Grand Parade was the scene of the most sensational happening that has yet taken place within the city precincts, when National troops stationed at the City Club were the object of a desperate attack. The deadly onslaught, which was made with machine-gun fire from the opposite side of the river, lasted but a few minutes and resulted in the deaths of two soldiers and the wounding of several others.’ This correspondent then listed the names and addresses of the two soldiers killed and the fourteen wounded (as then known). He continued his account: ‘The firing took place shortly after 10 o’clock in a busy street crowded with people. Suddenly, the death-dealing sport of machine-gun fire, followed by a few rifle shots, created a panic among the passers-by. Then a silence followed, and the street was practically deserted, but the fusillade had done its desperate work. Soldiers were lying in pools of blood at the doorway and around the City Club.’ Just before the firing started, the soldiers had been lining up outside the City Club to collect their pay. See FJ, 4 Sept. 1922.

A member of the Engineers Corps of the National Army, Private Behan was fatally wounded in this incident. ‘When admitted [to the Mercy Hospital], he was in a very critical condition, suffering from a wound in the left side of the face and a through and through wound in the abdomen, [with] the entrance wound being on the right side. He died at 2:30 on Saturday [afternoon, 2 September]. See CE, 4 Sept. 1922.

Private Behan had been serving with the National Army for only six weeks when he was killed. He ‘was a devout member of the Third Order of Saint Francis, and a number of members of the Order assisted in carrying the remains to the grave’ in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin on 6 September. See Evening Herald, 6 Sept. 1922. Instead of being buried in the National Army Plot in Glasnevin, Behan was interred ‘in the family burial ground [there] by spcial request’. See FJ, 7 Sept. 1922. See also (accessed 5 July 2017).

Private Behan had worked in civilian life for the Dublin Gas Company and had contributed £1 per week to the support of his family. His father Michael Sr was a former employee of Guinness’s Brewery with a pension of £1 15s. per week in 1924. Another of his sons, like the deceased Michael Francis, worked for the Dublin Gas Company and earned £2 a week. There were two sisters in the family, though they were not in employment; they cared for the home, for their mother was deceased. No dependant’s allowance or other payment was made to any member of this deceased soldier’s family. The family’s combined income was calculated at £2 10s. a week. The Army Pensions Board deemed the family’s need as insufficient. See MSPC/2D191 (Military Archives).

Michael Francis Behan Jr was in 1911 one of the six living children (seven born) of the Dublin brewery labourer and widower Michael Behan Sr. These six children (three daughters and three sons) all co-resided with their father in that year at 38 Blackhall Place (West Side), off Arran Quay in Dublin. They ranged in age from 2 to 16. Michael Jr (then aged 10) was the second son and third child.  

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