Civilian William O’Sullivan or Sullivan


Civilian William O’Sullivan or Sullivan (aged about 35) of Dromdrasdil near Dunmanway (Dromdrasdil)

Date of incident: 15 Nov. 1923

Sources: Death Certificate (Dunmanway District, Union of Dunmanway), 16 Nov. 1923; CE, 21 Nov. 1923; SS, 24 Nov. 1923; Ulster Herald, 24 Nov. 1923; Donegal News, 24 Nov. 1923; Keane (2017), 364, 423.


Note: The farmer William O’Sullivan was fatally wounded by a party of masked men at his home on Thursday night, 15 November 1923. He was a resident of Dromdrasdil near Dunmanway.  His ‘aunt-in-law’ Mary Donovan identified the body at the inquest and testified that William O’Sullivan was about 35 years old. ‘On the night of the 15th, about 9 o’clock,’ she stated, ‘she heard a strange voice in the kitchen where the deceased and a few neighbours were, and the strange voice was telling someone to come outside the door. The stranger said give yourself up, or somethink like that, and then she heard the deceased praying outside the door. After a short time she heard the stranger say, “Shove up a bit”, and the deceased said, “What have I done out of the way [?]” At this time she was looking out of the window and she heard a shot. She saw a man with something in his hand and saw [the] deceased fall. The people in the kitchen then brought in the deceased and placed him in the kitchen and the priest and doctor were sent for.’ The doctor found the victim ‘pulseless’ when he arrived at about 11 p.m., and death appears to have occurred before midnight. See CE, 21 Nov. 1923.

Another witness (a local farmer’s son named Richard Whyte from the same townland of Dromdrasdil) testified that the six people in the kitchen had been ordered by one of the masked men, who was armed with a rifle, to put their hands up. They were then individually asked their names. The masked man specifically asked William O’Sullivan if he was the owner of the house and if he had a gun. O’Sullivan replied that he was the owner and that the Civic Guards had taken the gun from him ‘a few days ago’. The stranger then said, ‘If you don’t give the gun, you will be dead in a short time.’ As O’Sullivan was being hustled out the door, he pleaded, ‘Oh, sir, what have I done; don’t shoot me; give me time to prepare.’ When he was outside the door, he was ordered to kneel. He prayed aloud, ‘Oh Jesus, save me. Oh Jesus, have mercy on me.’ He added, ‘I have no gun, sir. That is as true as God is in Heaven.’ He was instructed to say an Act of Contrition (which he did), and then he was shot at almost point-blank range.

Richard Whyte also stated that he ‘knew the deceased intimately and he never heard him say that anything was going to happen to him. Witness did not know he had enemies of that nature.’ William O’Sullivan’s brother Bartholomew O’Sullivan, who resided about a mile from Dromdrasdil, arrived soon after the shooting and was presnt when his brother William died later that night. The inquest jury concluded that William O’Sullivan had been murdered by some unknown persons. See CE, 21 Nov. 1923.

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