Mass IRA grave: A Compelling part of UCC's Architectural Heritage
The unveiling of the memorial at a grave of 13 IRA members executed by the British was an important day for University College Cork, writes Margaret Lantry
The first prisoner executed was IRA Captain Cornelius Murphy (aged 30), of the Rathduane Company, Millstreet Battalion, Cork No. 2 Brigade. He was shot by British firing squad on February 1, 1921. On February 28, six IRA Volunteers were executed, five of whom had been captured in an abortive ambush at Dripsey by the 6th Battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade. They were Volunteers Patrick O’Mahony Jr (aged 30) of Berrings, Inishcarra; Timothy McCarthy (aged 21), Fornaught, Donoughmore; John Lyons (aged 27), Aghabulloge; Thomas O’Brien (aged 20), Model Village, Dripsey; and Daniel O’Callaghan (aged 22), Dripsey.
After the successful fundraising drive and construction, the unveiling of the memorial and the plaque took place on Sunday, July 11, 1948. A procession with five bands left the Grand Parade at 2pm, arriving at UCC by 4pm when Éamon de Valéra TD (he was no longer Taoiseach) unveiled the memorial plaque on the gaol wall. He then entered the UCC grounds, where he was met by university president, Dr Alfred O’Rahilly, and the registrar, Professor Henry St J. Atkins. The monument was blessed by the Rev. Fr Augustine Hayden OFM Cap. Like other Capuchins, Fr Augustine was closely associated with the republican movement, having ministered to Padraic Pearse and James Connolly after the Easter Rising and officiated Terence and Muriel MacSwiney’s wedding in 1917.A detail of the memorial in UCC [Source: Margaret Lantry]
In 1992, three stones were laid on the grass with the names, in English, of those buried in this plot, with place of origin, along with a text: “Here lie the mortal remains of 13 Volunteers of the Irish Republican Army executed by British firing squads in the Cork Military Barracks in 1921 and buried here in what was then a part of the exercise yard of the former Cork County Jail.” The centre stone has a quotation from Padraic Pearse (this is also on the memorial plaque on the gaol wall): “Beidh iomrádh ortha i measc a muinntire cuimhneochaidh an uile ghlún iad agus mórfaid said a n-ainm Pádraig Mac Piarais”. The names of the 13 buried here were inscribed again on the flat stones of the surrounding kerb.
- Margaret Lantry is acting university curator, Heritage Services, Buildings & Estates, UCC -
First Published in the Irish Examiner, 28 March 2021