Cumann na nBan Member Margaret (Maggie) Dunne


Cumann na nBan Member Margaret (Maggie) Dunne (aged about 27) of Adrigole near Castletown (Drumlave, Adrigole, near Castletown)

Date of incident: 8 April 1923

Sources: Death Certificate (Castletown District, Union of Castletown), 8 April 1923; CE, 11, 21, 23, 28 April 1923; FJ, 11 April 1923; II, 11 April 1923; SS, 14 April 1923; Connaught Telegraph, 14 April 1923; CW OPS/04/02, Daily Report of 12 April 1923 (Military Archives); O’Dwyer (1977), 108; Cal McCarthy (2nd ed., 2014), 203, 214-15, 232-34; Keane (2017), 357, 422.


Note: According to an official report from National Army GHQ, issued on Monday, 9 April 1923, and then published in the Cork Examiner and the Southern Star (among other newspapers), ‘Troops from Glengariffe came into touch with irregulars at Adrigole last evening [8 April]. Two irregulars and one girl were shot dead. Lieut. Cassidy was wounded.’ See CE, 11 April 1923; SS, 14 April 1923. Margaret Dunne was killed in this encounter between National troops and Irregulars at Adrigole (more precisely Drumlave) near Castletown on Sunday, 8 April 1923. Whether two Irregulars were also killed in this engagement remains uncertain. There seems to be no surviving evidence of two such deaths. See Keane (2017), 357. Nevertheless, without providing any names, a National Army report of 12 April 1923 did indicate that two Irregulars had been killed in this incident. See CW OPS/04/02, Daily Report of 12 April 1923 (Military Archives).

In his book Cumann na mBan and the Irish Revolution (2nd ed., 2014), Cal McCarthy reports that one Margaret Duggan [sic], a member of Cumann na mBan, was shot dead by a Free State military officer in West Cork, and that an IRA firing party appeared at her funeral and fired shots over her grave (see p. 203). For this information McCarthy cites Eire—The Irish Republic of 23 June 1923. In his book Beara in Irish History (New York, 1977), Liam O’Dwyer, a senior figure in the Beara IRA, noted that ‘in an “Adrigole roundup”’, Margaret Dunne had been ‘shot dead as she slipped away through the fields to alert men on the run’. See O’Dwyer (1977), 108.

Margaret Dunne was in 1911 one of the six living children (eight born) of the farmer Daniel Dunne and his wife Mary. All six of these children co-resided with their parents in that year in the townland of Cappaleigh South in the district electoral division of Adrigole (Kilcaskan parish) near Castletown. There were five daughters and a son named Eugene, ranging in age from 13 to 23. Maggie Dunne (then aged 15) was the fourth daughter, with one younger sister.  

Her funeral drew a large crowd and exhibited an impressive display of sympathy infused by politics: ‘The funeral of Miss M. Dunne, who lost her life at Adrigole under tragically sad circumstances during the engagement between National troops and irregulars, took place from her father’s home the Tuesday following [10 April] and was largely attended, [with] many people coming from places as distant as Castletown and Glengariffe, where she was well known and had many friends. The coffin, which was draped in the tri-colour flag, was borne on the shoulders of the men from the house to the cemetery a half mile distant, where Father [John] Godley, P. P., [Adrigole], officiated at the obsequies. A party of National troops on duty brought their arms to the salute as the cortege passed along.’ See CE, 23 April 1923.

A subsequent effort to hold an inquest into Margaret Dunne’s death was fruitless. On Tuesday, 17 April 1923, Gerald Hegarty, the deputy coroner for the district, attended at Drumlave, Adrigole, ‘for the purpose of inquiring into the circumstances attending the death of Miss Margaret Dunne, who was shot dead during the engagement between National troops and irregulars at Droumlave [or Drumlave] on Sunday, April 8th. Owing to the non-arrival of the Civic Guard in the Berehaven district yet, the officer in charge of the National troops in the area attended to watch the proceedings on behalf of the state. On his arrival he handed Mr Hegarty a copy of a wireless message he received immediately before leaving Castletown, which stated that the officer who was in charge of the column conducting the operations against the irregulars when the deceased met her death would be unable to attend. Mr Hegarty handed the telegram to the jury, and it was decided to adjourn the inquest until one o’clock on Wednesday, April 25th. Mr Eugene Dunne, brother of the deceased, who was present, stated that this course was agreeable to him.’ See CE, 21 April 1923. It appears that the adjourned inquest never met. See Keane (2017), 357. The National Army clearly wished to avoid responsibility for Dunne’s death.  

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