Civilian Ellen Patricia (Nellie) Hayes


Civilian Ellen Patricia  (Nellie) Hayes (aged almost 17) of Montenotte, Cork city (Tracton Park, Montenotte, Cork city)

Date of incident: 13 Feb. 1923

Sources: Death Certificate (Cork Urban District No. 1, Union of Cork), 13 Feb. 1923; CE, 14, 15, 16 Feb. 1923; FJ, 15 Feb. 1923; Keane (2017), 350, 421.


Note: Ellen Hayes was killed accidentally on 13 February 1923 outside her own door at Tracton Park, Montenotte, while she, her sister Lily, and a female friend were engaged in cordial conversation with two on-duty National Army sentries. See CE, 14 Feb. 1923. The soldier whose rifle was fired accidently had thought that the safety catch was on, but the rifle went off and the bullet struck Hayes in the left cheek as he and his comrade were turning to leave. Hayes was already dead when admitted to the hospital. It was later discovered that the safety catch was not working properly. The military officer who represented the General Officer Commanding at the coroner’s inquest told the jury: ‘So many of these accidents had occurred of late that disciplinary action in each case was absolutely essential. The necessity of having to have armed men to protect the houses of the citizens of Cork was the tragedy of it.’ The jury exonerated the soldier of all blame in the tragedy. Eileen Hayes ‘had been serving her time in the drapery business’ for the better part of the last year. Her father was a gardener with two sons in the National Army and a third son employed at the Ford factory. See See CE, 15 Feb. 1923.

Lieutenant Michael Hayes, a brother of the dead girl, had earned fame in the previous September, when the Lancia car that he was driving had been ambushed near Riverstown by a party of Irregulars firing from the surrounding hills. Though wounded in three places (head, neck, and wrist), he had driven the car out of range of the attackers. Four National Army Soldiers had been wounded in that incident, but Hayes was promoted to lieutenant for his bravery. His courage was recalled in the report on the funeral of his sister Ellen. See CE, 16 Feb. 1923

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