National Army Soldier (General) Denis Galvin


National Army Soldier (General) Denis Galvin (aged about 28) of Meenskeha near Millstreet (Mallow Military Barracks)

Date of incident: 20 Feb. 1923

Sources: CE, 21, 22, 23, 24 Feb., 1, 2, 3 March 1923; FJ, 21, 23 Feb., 1, 2 March 1923; II, 23 Feb., 1, 2 March 1922; Evening Herald, 26 Feb. 1923; Belfast Newsletter, 1 March 1923; MSPC/3D23 (Military Archives); Keane (2017), 351-52, 422; http://antoglach.militaryarchives.ie/PDF/1923_03_10_Vol_1_No_2_An_t-Oglac-2.pdf (accessed 30 July 2017). 


Note: General Denis Galvin, commandant of the 38th Infantry Division of the National Army, was badly wounded when a new type of bomb or hand grenade that he was personally testing exploded on 20 February 1923 at Mallow Barracks, where he was the O/C. He suffered severe injuries of the arm and chest. His right forearm ‘was so badly shattered that amputation from below the elbow was unavoidable’. The chest injuries were the result of shrapnel from the grenade. See CE, 22 Feb. 1923. The amputation was considered successful, but he died at the Mercy Hospital in Cork city on the morning of 28 February of septicaemia resulting from his wounds. See CE, 1 March 1923. The date of his death given in his pension file is incorrect. See MSPC/3D23 (Military Archives).

Galvin was a native of Meenskeha, situated between Kanturk and Millstreet. A labourer in civilian life, he had been active in the Volunteer movement since 1914. During the Anglo-Irish War he had been ‘in command of the active service unit of the 4th [or] North Cork Brigade, and he and the men under his charge bore the brunt of all the hard fighting in that area’. He had taken part in several of the most notable ambushes of the time, including those at Rathcoole, Rathmore, and Clonbannin. ‘His bravery was the admiration of North Cork, where he succeeded in bringing most of the fighting men under the National flag.’ He had also served as vice-chairman of the Millstreet Rural District Council. See CE, 1 March 1923.

An t-Óglách reported on Galvin’s career in its issue of 10 March 1923: ‘His record with the Army goes back to 1914. He was out in 1916. During the intense portion of the Anglo-Irish War he was O/C of the Active Service Unit of the 4th [or] North Cork Brigade. North Cork people remember the conflicts at Rathcoole, Cloonbanin, and Rathmore and the parts that Denis Galvin played in them. He was in the thick of everything and never found wanting. He had no hesitation in following the late Chief [Michael Collins] on the Treaty question, and his influence brought hundreds of men from his district into the National ranks. It is hard that he should go with the end so near at hand.’ See

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