National Army Airman (Second Lieutenant) John McDonagh


National Army Airman (Second Lieutenant) John McDonagh (age 21 or 22) of 566 North Circular Road, Dublin, and Fermoy Aerodrome (near Fermoy)

Date of incident: 25 June 1923

Sources: Death Certificate (Fermoy District, Union of Fermoy), 26 June 1923; CE, 26, 29 June 1923; Belfast Newsletter, 27 June 1923; Derry Journal, 27 June 1923; SS, 30 June 1923; MSPC/3D289 (Military Archives); CW/OPS/04/04 (Military Archives). 


Note: Second Lieutenant John McDonagh was badly wounded in the accidental crash of an aeroplane near Fermoy Aerodrome on 25 June 1923. He died of multiple injuries the following day at the Fermoy Union Hospital some fifteen hours after admission. McDonagh was acting as an obsever on the aeroplane when the crash occurred. He was a member of the Irish Air Service. See MSPC/3D289 (Military Archives). The chief cause of death was a fracture at the base of the skull (among other injuries). See Death Certificate (Fermoy District, Union of Fermoy), 26 June 1923. See also CW/OPS/04/04 (Military Archives) for the Daily Report of the 40th Battalion of the National Army for 27 June 1923 on the crash of McDonogh’s DH 9 airplane and on his death.

The Cork Examiner carried the following report about the crash: ‘Lieuts. McCullogh, pilot, and McDonagh, observer, Fermoy Aerodrome, sustained serious injuries this evening [25 June 1923] whilst flying over Fermoy. The aeroplane had been flying for some time and apparently was working all right, when, it is presumed, engine trouble took place. The aviators made a forced landing, [with] the machine crashing into a tree on an upland farm. The accident was witnessed by some persons who immediately communicated with the military, who had the injured officers removed to hospital.’ See CE, 26 June 1923. The pilot Lieutenant McCullogh appears to have survived. Photographs of Lieutenant McDonagh and of his funeral passing through Fermoy appeared in the Cork Examiner of 29 June. 

In its report on McDonagh’s funeral in Fermoy the Cork Examiner observed: ‘The deceased was an old Volunteer from the County Dublin and saw a good deal of service in the Black and Tan regime, after which he joined the National Army, from which he was transferred to the Irish Air Service. In this branch he got on rapidly, with the result that he received his commission a few days previous to his death. He was a general favourite with the men as well as with his fellow-officers, all of whom marched for a considerable distance with the funeral. . . . There was a big gathering of the townspeople following the cortege, which slowly wended its way through the town on its way to Dublin.’ See CE, 29 June 1923.   

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