Civilian Thomas Cahill


Civilian Thomas Cahill (aged 44) of Rushbrooke, Cobh (near Rushbrooke, Cobh)

Date of death: 25 March 1923

Sources: Death Certificate (Cobh District, Union of Midleton), 25 March 1923 (registered 25 April 1923); CE, 27, 29, 30 March 1923, 25 March 1924; McCarthy (2008), 216-17.


Note: An ex-RIC man, Cahill was found dead on 25 March 1923 near his residence at Rushbrooke in Cobh under circumstances suggesting that he had been the victim of an accident. He had been dismissed from the RIC for supplying arms to the IRA during the War of Independence and had allegedly ‘suffered untold treatment by the Black and Tans’. The rigour of his life in jail adversely affected his eyesight, and this impaired vision may have resulted in his untimely end. He had served in the RIC for seventeen years at the time of his dismissal. A resolution of condolence directed to his widow and their four children came from the Executive Committee of the All-Ireland Organisation of Resigned and Dismissed R.I.C. Men. See CE, 30 March 1923.

His death certificate indicated that the cause of his death was ‘shock from wounds caused by [a] fall through a railway bridge’. Though his death was ruled accidental, the vision loss or impairment that he had suffered at the hands of certain Black and Tans during the War of Independence probably contributed significantly to his accidental loss of life in this fall from the railway bridge. An inquest was held at the Cobh Town Hall on 27 March 1923 under the auspices of County Coroner Richard Rice. See Death Certificate (Cobh District, Union of Midleton), 25 March 1923 (registered 25 April 1923).

In his book Republican Cobh and the East Cork Volunteers since 1913 (Dublin, 2008), Kieran McCarthy maintains: ‘It is almost a certainty that the victim, a blind man, could not have climbed over the 4ft high safety rail of the footbridge to jump to his death. It was commonly felt at the time that the unfortunate man was accosted by people lying in wait for him before being thrown off the bridge. No one was ever charged with the crime.’ Cahill had served a lengthy sentence in Cork Jail for ‘treason’ and for collaborating with the IRA during the War of Independence. Previously, he had served as an RIC sergeant in a police barracks in West Cork when in 1919 he was found to be ‘unreliable’. His unionist wife, a postmistress in Rushbrooke, never forgave him for his switching of sides. They separated, and Collins slept rough and turned to drink. See McCarthy (2008), 216-17.   

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