Timothy A. Smiddy – the Ballymacoda Connection to Ireland’s First Ambassador

Evident from my research for the Ballymacoda History Project is the fact that people from Ballymacoda have made their mark on the world. We have successful and noted businesspeople, clergymen, academics, poets and patriots that we can claim as our own. Very often I come across surprising links also, and this is the story of one of those – Timothy Aloysius Smiddy, a contemporary of Michael Collins, and the first man to be appointed ambassador to another country by the Irish Free State.

Timothy A. Smiddy

Timothy A. Smiddy was born in Kilbarry, a small townland on the northside of Cork City, near Blackpool. He was born on April 30th, 1875, and was the son of William and Honora (nee O’Mahony) Smiddy. His father William Smiddy is what gives us our link the Ballymacoda – William was born in Ballycrenane, Ballymacoda on May 9th 1848, as were his parents (Timothy’s grandparents) – Timothy Smiddy (1793-1873) and Mary Boozan (Beausang – a distant relative of my own) (1806-1883).

William Smiddy, father of Timothy Smiddy, born in Ballycrenane, Ballymacoda in May 1848

By the time of Timothy’s birth in 1875, his father William had built up a successful merchant business in Cork city and ran a victualler business on Grand Parade, thus allowing Timothy the benefit of receiving a fine education. He attended St Finbarr’s College (Farranferris) on the northside of Cork City, and later, with his contemplation of becoming a priest, studied in Paris for a number of years, before moving to Cologne, Germany, to study commerce and economics.

Kilbarry House, the Smiddy family home in Cork

Returning home to Cork, Timothy married Lilian (Lily) O’Connell at St Finbarr’s Cathedral in October 1900. He went on to study at University College Cork (then Queen’s College Cork), and graduated with a B.A. (1905) and an M.A. (1907). He became staff at the University in 1909, accepting a position to teach in the Faculty of Economics, later becoming Dean of Faculty and Professor of Economics. Timothy and Lily had six children, and the 1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland records show them living in Cobh. It is interesting the see the evolution of Timothy’s listed profession on the Census forms. It was listed as ‘Timber merchant‘ in 1901, which he worked as while studying, and listed as ‘Professor of Economics and Commerce B.A.,M.A‘ in 1911.

Obviously, the most notable event from an Irish perspective at the time period we are discussing was Ireland’s ongoing struggle for independence. In 1921, following the War of Independence and the resulting truce, Timothy Smiddy was appointed by fellow Cork-man and friend Michael Collins to be his Economic Adviser to Plenipotentiaries for the treaty negotiations that were to happen in London between October and December of that year. Smiddy was one of four economic advisors appointed to the Irish delegation. At the time, Collins’ official role in the government of the proclaimed Irish Republic was Minister for Finance.

In 1922, Smiddy was called upon again by Collins and sent to the United States to be the Irish Free State’s financial representative in Washington. His role was officially recognized in 1924, and he served as Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary to the United States of America for the Irish Free State until 1929. During this time he facilitated the visit of William T. Cosgrave to the United States in 1928, the first leader of the Irish Free State, accompanied by Desmond Fitzgerald, Minister for Defence.

WT Cosgrave arrives in Washington DC, Timothy Smiddy, who flanked Cosgrave for much of his visit, can be seen on the far left

The appointment of Timothy Smiddy as the representative of Ireland in the United States was an important development in the history of the Irish state. Not only was he the first ambassador to another country to be appointed, but it was also the first attempt by a British dominion or colony (as the Irish Free State then was) to appoint a recognized ambassador to another country.

Following the end of his appointment in the United States, Timothy Smiddy later served as the Irish Free State’s High Commissioner to London (during 1929–1930), was a member of the Tariff Commission (from 1930–1933) and later became chairman of the Commission on Agriculture (1939–1945). He also continued to advise the Irish government on economic matters. He died on February 9th, 1962 at the age of 86, and is buried in Deansgrange Cemetery in Dublin.

In early 2022, a book entitled The Men and Women of the Anglo-Irish Treaty 1921 was released which details the lives of all delegation members involved in the Treaty negotiations in 1921. Joint editor of the book, Eda Sagarra, is a granddaughter of Timothy Smiddy. Sagarra is also author of the 2018 book, Envoy Extraordinary: Professor Smiddy of Cork, which comprehensively documents the life and achievements of Timothy Smiddy in his six decades of public service to Ireland.

References & Further Information

Ireland, Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911 [Available Online]

Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915 [Available Online]

Ireland, Civil Registration Births Index, 1864-1958 [Available Online]

National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, Kilbarry House

Census of Ireland, 1901 Record for Timothy A. Smiddy

Census of Ireland, 1911 Record for Timothy A. Smiddy

Law Society Gazette Ireland, The people behind the 1921 Treaty, Fiona Murray, April 2022

Documents in Irish Foreign Policy, Letter from William T. Cosgrave to Timothy A. Smiddy, March 5th, 1928

The Men and Women of the Anglo-Irish Treaty 1921, Dingle Publishing

The 1856 Fishing Tragedy at Knockadoon

This is the story of possibly the worst fishing related accident to occur in Knockadoon – the loss of five men to the sea in the summer of 1856.

At 6am on Wednesday morning, August 20th 1856, five men and their fishing boat set off from Barry’s Cove for the purpose of hauling their nets (the concrete slipway in Knockadoon didn’t exist at this time). There was a heavy sea and a north-easterly wind blowing. Not a single member of the crew would return alive.

According to newspaper reports at the time, the boat and crew were seen by witnesses on the shore between 7am and 8am that morning, and were in the process of hauling their nets. The sea was rolling and the north-easterly wind was now blowing hard. According to the witnesses, what happened next was to decide the fate of the men – their boat suddenly capsized in the heavy sea.

Three of the men managed to rest on the keel of the upturned boat, and the other two were seen to use the heavy wooden oars of their fishing boat to attempt to support themselves in the water. The men on the keel were seen to call for assistance and attempt to signal to those on the shore that urgent help was needed.

On the shore, the crew of another boat who had just put in, Jeremiah McCarthy, Michael Barry, and John Sheehan attempted to gallantly re-launch their own fishing vessel and reach the men in distress. Ultimately, their brave efforts failed and the men narrowly avoided being drowned themselves in the worsening conditions.

Those on the shore watched helplessly, as their friends and neighbors were lost to the sea. The men on the oars disappeared after a short time, and the men on the keel were eventually beaten off by the terrible conditions. Some time later, their empty boat was driven on to the rocks at Knockadoon and smashed to pieces. It was reported in newspapers of the time that two of the bodies of the men washed ashore that day, but it is unclear when/if the others were recovered from the sea. An inquest was held on the following Friday at Castlemartyr by Henry Barry, coroner for the district, with a verdict of ‘Found drowned‘ being recorded for the men.

The following are the details of the men who drowned, as reported by the Cork Reporter at the time:

William Ahern – aged 47, leaving a wife and three children.

William Barry – aged 45, leaving a wife and five children.

William Lynch – aged 45, leaving a wife and six children.

Garret Barry and Daniel Barry – brothers aged 23 and 20 respectively, reported as leaving an aged mother and father.

Reports of the tragedy at Knockadoon carried widely in both national and international newspapers of the time. Later, an appeal was made to support the families of the deceased fishermen.

Report carried in the Cork Constitution, September 4th 1856

It is a wonder we don’t have some sort of simple memorial to these men at Knockadoon in the form of a plaque or similar. Such a tragic accident should not be lost to the ages.

References and Further Information

Kilkenny Journal, and Leinster Commercial and Literary Advertiser, August 27th 1856

Cork Constitution, September 4th 1856

A Snapshot of Ballymacoda from 1942

The Irish Tourist Association Topographical and General Survey Files were compiled in the early 1940s. As well as providing a unique glimpse into the past, these surveys contain many mentions of local folklore important to the historical record. Thankfully, these surveys have been digitized and most relating to localities in County Cork, including Ballymacoda, have been made available by Cork County Council via the Local Studies Digital Library.

The surveys were compiled by the Irish Tourist Association, a predecessor to what we know today as Fáilte Ireland. The purpose was to survey the major towns and villages of Ireland and record cultural and tourism-related attractions in these areas. These were detailed documents, containing five forms to be completed by the appointed surveyor:

  • Form A: This dealt with natural features, topography and the geology of the area. In addition, detailed descriptions of antiquities and archaeological sites were recorded.
  • Form B: This section gives information on sports and games played in the area.
  • Form C: This section provides information on amenities and public services such as beaches, bathing and swimming facilities, parks, etc.
  • Form D: Similar headings and categories to Form C such as amenities and general information about the town or village, though without references to facilities relating to seaside areas which were recorded in Form C.
  • Form EThis section details information about accommodation in the local area and the names of hotels, guest houses and boarding houses, as well as the names of local restaurants and cafés.

The survey for Ballymacoda is dated August 16th, 1942 (which interestingly was a Sunday), and while the rest of the survey is sparsely populated, Form A is where the most interesting information is to be found.

Excerpt from the first page of the Ballymacoda survey conducted in 1942

The first point of note in the Ballymacoda survey, as visible in the above image, is that the village of Ladysbridge was included as a secondary village, and there are some references throughout. Form A is full of local folklore, some of which I certainly wasn’t aware of previously, and which will be covered here.

The ‘Geology’ section at the start of Form A makes reference to copper mines in Knockadoon:

At one time Copper mines were supposed to exist at Knockadoon, and a deep cave in the coast marks the spot where pits were sunk for mining purposes.

The subject of copper mining having existed in Knockadoon was covered previously on the Ballymacoda History Project in the post ‘A Copper Mine in Knockadoon?‘. This is yet again another fragment of evidence that this may actually have been the case.

The ‘Antiquities’ section of Form A covers everything you would expect in the locality – Ightermurragh Castle, Ballycrenane Castle, the castle (signal tower) at Knockadoon, Kilcredan church etc. An interesting item mentioned about Kilcredan church is that it was ‘used as Irish Headquarters during the war of Independence‘. This would certainly warrant further investigation.

Under ‘Historic Sites‘, unsurprisingly the Coastguard Station Cottages at Ring are mentioned in the context of the 1867 Fenian Rising. The interesting thing is that there is an explanation of how ‘The Block‘, as it is known locally, got its name:

About 25 years ago the coastguard station was referred to, by a local priest, as ‘The block of blazes’, owing to petty squabbles amongst the residents. Since then it has been abbreviated ‘The Block’ which is now its recognized term.

The ‘Historic Sites‘ section also contains a very interesting piece of folklore about Capel Island, off Knockadoon Head.

Three brothers from Wales were out fowling when a storm arose, blew them across the channel and they landed on this island where they were stranded for some time. In order to provide food they used their firearms to kill sea fowl on the island. The explosions were heard by the local chieftain, one of the Senaschals of Imokilly, which at the time was expecting an attack on his territory. He enlisted the Capel’s, which with their fowling pieces caused havoc amongst the enemy. For their services they were given tracts of land in the district. This is reputed to be the first occasion in which firearms were used in Ireland.

Of course we know that the island’s name derives from the Norman de Capelle family, granted the island after the Norman invasion of 1169, but the above is nonetheless interesting from a folklore perspective – especially the claim regarding this incident being the first use of firearms in Ireland.

The next example of interesting folklore comes surprisingly in the ‘Spas or Mineral Springs‘ section of Form A:

At Barnfield, one mile from Ballymacoda village, is a large limestone rock with oval centre about eight inches deep. Rainwater lodges in this basin, and is said to be a cure of warts, sore fingers, etc. A significant point is that the land around is all brownstone.

The above is certainly not the strangest thing to be found in Form A. The ‘Curiosities‘ section yields yet more interesting local folklore. For example, there are two mentions of note regarding the construction of St. Peter in Chains church in Ballymacoda. The first is that some of the beams in the roof came from timber washed ashore at Knockadoon, and the other is that the stone used in the construction was all quarried by one man! Reference is also made in the ‘Curiosities‘ section to the cargo of gin washed ashore at one point, with overindulgence killing two local residents. Again, this is something covered on the Ballymacoda History Project previously in the post ‘The Ballymacoda and Knockadoon Gin Craze in 1851‘ by guest author Tony Harpur.

The survey mentions that the practice of ‘Keening‘ was seemingly commonplace in Ballymacoda, this being a vocal lament (essentially wailing) for the dead, carried out at funerals. The description would suggest that the graveyard being referred to is the Hill Cemetery, as opposed to the graveyard at St. Peter in Chains.

“Keening” was regularly practised in this district, and for funerals to Ballymacoda churchyard which is situated on the top of a steep hill, the Keener rode on horseback up this slope, the animals being supplied as part of the normal funeral equipment.

In the ‘Antiquities‘ section, another local story is recounted which I have never heard. Listed under the heading of Knockadoon Rock, is the following:

On a rock near the headland are three impressions, somewhat indistinct but said to resemble the apparel worn by the clergy. The story is that the bodies of a bishop and two priests were washed ashore at this point. The sailing vessel in which they were travelling being brought to destruction near this spot by the local ship wreckers, who enticed the vessel with night lanterns.

There is also mention in another section of the survey, when referencing the Hill Cemetery, that the Bishop and two priests mentioned above who were shipwrecked at Knockadoon were buried there.

Yet another interesting piece of local folklore contained in the survey is the mention of an annual meeting of poets in the locality.

At the confluence of the rivers, Dower and Womanagh, an annual meeting of the bards or poets was held. It was called Crisc na mbárdán (contention of the bards). The chairman of the meeting held in his hand a token of his position, a cane or stick known as bata na barla (staff of staves). The chairmanship was secured and held by open superior knowledge competition and women also took part in the discussions.

Piaras Mac Gearailt (1702-1795), local born Irish language poet, is mentioned as being a long standing chairman of this gathering.

In Form B, and the rest of the survey as mentioned earlier, the information is sparse, but a few bits of information here are interesting. Some local fishermen of the time are listed as having boats available for hire at Knockadoon:

Punts – R. Shanahan, P. Lynch, Wm. Aherne, Wm. Walsh, Knockadoon. No fixed prices, an arrangement can easily be made with any of the above fishermen, but definite prices could not be obtained.

These surveys were completed with inputs from people in the locality, and thus provide a snapshot of local folklore and stories known at the time. Much of this information would likely have been lost in the generations since then. The digitization of these records has enabled the committal of this information to the historical record, and ensures that interesting folklore such as shown here is not lost.

A link to the full Ballymacoda survey can be found below.

References & Further Information

Irish Tourist Association, “Ballymacoda” Local Studies Digital Library, accessed July 1, 2022

Michael Farrell – From Ballymacoda to the Crimean War

The Crimean War, in which the Russian Empire fought against an alliance of France, England, the Ottoman Empire and later the Kingdom of Sardinia between 1853 and 1856 was notable for a number of reasons. It has become known as the first modern global war, even often referred to as ‘World War Zero‘. It was also known as the first ‘media war‘ – in that there was widespread coverage in newspapers of the day, and huge interest amongst the general population. It is estimated that approximately 30,000 Irishmen fought in the conflict, and one of those was Michael Farrell from Ballymacoda.

Michael Farrell was born in Ballymacoda on January 8th 1835. After schooling he worked as a laborer for a period before signing up to the British Army on October 8th 1852 in Cork city, aged just 17. Michael initially served in 99th Lanarkshire Regiment, before being transferred to the 77th East Middlesex Regiment, serving with the rank of Private and carrying regimental number 2856.

In September 1854, after Britain had declared war on Russia, the 77th East Middlesex Regiment was sent to serve in Turkey and then Crimea, the British forces fighting alongside their allies from the French and Turkish armies. The 77th saw action fighting at the Battle of the Alma (September 1854), the Battle of Inkerman (November 1854) and the Siege of Sevastopol (October 1854 – September 1855). Michael Farrell was injured twice at the Siege of Sevastopol during 1855. His first wounding occurred on July 25th, and was minor. But on August 28th he was wounded by shell fragments which required the amputation of two fingers on his left hand. The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1856, brought an end to the Crimean War.

After the returning from the war, records show that Michael Farrell was discharged from the British Army at Chatham in Kent, on January 22nd 1856, having served just over three years. He was still a young man, aged just 21. For his service in the war, Michael Farrell was awarded the Crimea War Medal, a silver medal containing a bar for each of the battles he had been involved in. He was also awarded a pension of 8d. per diem (8 pence a day), which was to later increase to 9d. per diem in 1874, and 18d. per diem in 1903.

The Crimea War Medal. Bars for the battles of Alma, Inkerman and Sevastopol are visible at the top

The following year, having returned to Ireland, Michael married Catherine O’Brien, a native of Cappaquin, Co. Waterford. In 1858, Michael signed up to the Enrolled Pensioner Force (also known as the Pensioner Guards). This force consisted entirely of discharged soldiers on a pension, who would travel working as guards on prison ships bound for Western Australia. For Michael and his young wife, this meant free passage to Australia, and the added benefit of being eligible for a land grant in Western Australia after seven years of service had been completed.

Michael and Catherine were assigned to the convict ship the Edwin Fox, which coincidentally had been chartered by the British government to transport troops between Calais and the Baltic during the Crimean War.

The Edwin Fox left Plymouth on August 26th 1858 under Captain John Ferguson. Its destination was the Swan River Colony in Western Australia (what we know as Perth today). In addition to its convict cargo of 280, it carried 82 passengers including Michael and Catherine Farrell and 30 other men and their spouses of the Enrolled Pensioner Force. The ship arrived in Fremantle on November 20th 1858 after a voyage of 86 days.

The Edwin Fox, the ship on which Michael and Catherine Farrell emigrated to Western Australia. Today it is on display in Picton, New Zealand as a tourist attraction

Michael and Catherine settled in the town of Geraldton about 400km North of Fremantle, and he continued his work in the Enrolled Pensioner Force as a Prison Warder. They had at least ten children: Mary Jane (born 1859), Michael Jr. (born 1862), Margaret (born 1864), Ellen (born 1866), Edward (born 1869), William (born 1871), Mary Ann (born 1874), Lancelot (born 1876), Patrick (born 1876), and Katherine (born 1885).

In 1868, Michael Farrell was awarded a land grant at the Greenough Flats, just South of Geraldton. According to the records he was awarded locations ‘G36’ & ‘G37’, comprising of 20 acres each. Records indicate that this may have been a partial grant/purchase, in that Michael paid for a portion of the land in addition to the grant awarded as part of his earlier work in the Enrolled Pensioner Force.

Michael worked farming this land at Greenough for a period, but there is evidence he later worked as a lead miner which was a prevalent industry in the area. This may be because of some of the natural disasters that impacted the Greenough Flats in the ensuing years. Located on a flood plain, the flats were more susceptible to these events, and a major cyclone in 1872 and major flooding in 1888 contributed to the gradual decline in the number of settlers in the area.

Michael Farrell died in 1914 in Geraldton, a long way from his place of birth. In his life had been a soldier in the Crimean War, a guard on a prison ship bound for Australia, a farmer, and a lead miner. Catherine died 2 years later in 1916.

News of Catherine Farrell’s death, carried in the Geraldton Guardian, January 13th 1916

The thousands of descendants of Michael Farrell from Ballymacoda and his wife Catherine continue to live in Western Australia, and I wonder if they know of the village in East Cork where their ancestor came from?

References & Further Information

Crimean War Veterans in Western Australia, Record for Michael Farrell

UK, Royal Hospital, Chelsea: Pensioner Soldier Service Records, 1760-1920

UK, Royal Hospital, Chelsea: Regimental Registers of Pensioners, 1713-1882

UK, Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1949

Enrolled Pensioner Force, Western Australia

Enrolled Pensioner Force, Western Australia, Record for Michael Farrell

The Edwin Fox Ship and Visitor Centre

Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922

Western Australian Pioneer Index, 1841-1905

Pensioner Land Records, Government of Western Australia, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Wikipedia Entry for Greenough, Western Australia

Searching for Missing Friends: Ballymacoda Emigrant Advertisements in the Boston Pilot

With mobile technology being pervasive today, it may be difficult for us to imagine a time where we cannot almost instantly connect with a family member or friend, be they in the next room, town, or on another continent. Such communication posed a more difficult challenge in the past, when historical events such as the Great Famine forced our people to emigrate en masse and seek a new life. This coupled with an immature international postal system, meant that family and friends lost contact, often for years at a time.

The Boston Pilot, founded in 1829, is a Catholic newspaper and since 1908 the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston. It was an important newspaper from the perspective of Irish emigrants in the 1800s, becoming the voice of Boston’s Irish community by 1850.

From 1831, and for the next 90 years, the ‘missing friends‘ column of this newspaper was a popular mechanism of attempting to find information on missing family and friends in the United States. In this time, approximately 45,000 advertisements were published seeking information on missing people.

The first ad published in the Boston Pilot in October 1831 seeking information on a missing person

Through researching these ads, there is valuable insight to be gained with regards to Ballymacoda, which was no exception to the rest of Ireland in terms of emigration. There are literally 1000s of records of migrants to the United States in particular, and it is easy to see how families and friends lost contact.

A sample of locations where emigrants from Ballymacoda ended up in the 1800s (not all data and showing only the North-Eastern United States)

The first ad in the Boston Pilot referencing Ballymacoda and seeking information on a missing person was published on August 27th 1853 by John Ray, seeking information about his brother William.

Boston Pilot, August 1853

The next ad referencing Ballymacoda is five years later, when Mary Foley, of Thompsonville, Connecticut seeks information on her brother Patrick Leahy and a man named John McGrath, presumably his travelling companion.

Boston Pilot, Volume 21, Number 21, 22 May 1858

Ten years pass before we find another reference to Ballymacoda, when Patrick Power seeks information on his sister Honoria from Glenawilling, last heard from seven years previously and living in Boston with her uncles.

Boston Pilot, Volume 31, Number 13, 28 March 1868

In the 1870s and 1880s, there was a large increase in the number of ads seeking information on people from Ballymacoda. An ad seeking information on Patrick Kelly & family was published in three consecutive issues of the Pilot on March 9th, 16th and 23rd in 1872.

Boston Pilot, Volume 35, Number 10, 9 March 1872

The same cadence of ads over three issues was also seen seeking information on James Gleeson of Ballydaniel in November 1874.

Boston Pilot, Volume 37, Number 48, 28 November 1874

Information was also sought about John Ahern from Ballymacoda in 1874, who was last heard from ten years previously, living in Virginia at that time.

Boston Pilot, Volume 37, Number 48, 28 November 1874

In 1878, Mary Cronin was seeking information on her brother Daniel. Often times these ads were used to attempt to connect new emigrants with family members who had emigrated in years past.

Boston Pilot, Volume 41, Number 17, 27 April 1878

In November 1880, Patrick Lawton, the nephew of William and David Fehilly from Ballymacoda, who emigrated ‘some 20 or 24 years ago‘ seeks information on them.

Boston Pilot, Volume 43, Number 46, 13 November 1880

The longest ad found in my research concerns David Hyde from Lisquinlan, and was published in the Christmas Day 1880 edition of the newspaper by his brother Nicholas, and again in a January 1881 edition.

Boston Pilot, Volume 43, Number 52, 25 December 1880

In June 1881, an ad seeking information on Elizabeth and Margaret Cullen who had emigrated from Ballymacoda 19 years previously is published.

Boston Pilot, Volume 44, Number 23, 4 June 1881

The final two ads published in the Boston Pilot seeking information on emigrants from Ballymacoda were published in 1885 and 1886. In 1885, the sister of John O’Neill (who interestingly is noted as a grandnephew of Fr. Peter O’Neill) looks for information on her brother who was last heard from 32 years previously. This ad was published in two issues of the Pilot in July and August 1885.

Boston Pilot, Volume 48, Number 29, 18 July 1885

The final ad relating to Ballymacoda was published in September 1886 with information being sought on John Maguire and his wife who had emigrated to Boston 39 years previously (this is the longest timespan observed in any ad relating to Ballymacoda).

Boston Pilot, Volume 49, Number 38, 18 September 1886

One has to wonder if any of the ads were successful, and how often family and friends were reunited as an outcome. It is certain that the individuals being sought were important to the submitter of the ad – the cost of $3 dollars to publish such an ad in the Pilot was likely a sizable chunk of their regular income.

As well as providing a fascinating insight into the past, these ads in the Boston Pilot have been a rich source of genealogical information over the years based on the information they contain, and it is easy to see why, using these ads relating to Ballymacoda as an example. Key information is present, such as dates of emigration, last known locations, ships travelled on etc. – all of which can be cross-checked and validated with other available records to help build out a picture of an emigrants life after leaving Ireland.

The Ballymacoda Emigrants Database

I am also using this post to announce a new sub-project of the Ballymacoda History Project – the Ballymacoda Emigrants Database.

This is a database which I have been building from scratch, which combines multiple sources of data pertaining to emigrants from Ballymacoda to the United States, Canada, Australia and further afield. When the database goes live later in 2022, it will be fully browsable, searchable and allow anyone to delve into the key information of the 1000s of emigrants from Ballymacoda. It will also be a useful reference for anyone researching family genealogy or family roots in Ballymacoda.

References & Further Information

Boston College Libraries, Boston College Newspapers Archive

The Irish Classifieds, A lost-and-found for the American Migration, Boston College Magazine, Spring 2005 Edition

Pádraig Phiarais Cúndún

Pádraig Phiarais Cúndún was an Irish language poet who emigrated from Ballymacoda in the 1800s. From the United States, he wrote several letters home to his friends in Ballymacoda. The content of many of these letters survived and was published in a collection by Risteard Ó Foghludha in 1932.

Pádraig was born in Shanakill, Ballymacoda in 1777, the son of Mary & Piaras Cúndún. He had a brother and at least two sisters – although different sources give conflicting information here, indicating that he may have had two brothers. Pádraig eventually took over the family farm, and in 1811 he married Margaret McCarthy, the daughter of Charles and Christina McCarthy from nearby Beanfield. They had a son, Piaras, and three daughters, Eibhlin, Caitlin and Maighread.

In 1825, Pádraig emigrated to the United States with his wife and family. There isn’t a clear reason as to why he decided to emigrate at that time (Pádraig was in his late-forties by then), but some sources show that his landholding in Shanakill was prone to flooding. Passenger lists confirm 1825 as his year of arrival, when, embarking from Cobh, Pádraig and his family landed at Quebec in Canada where they remained for some time, before travelling to New York where some of his cousins were living.

The 1830 United States Federal Census shows Pádraig living in Deerfield in Oneida County in the state of New York. He is listed using the English version of his name, Patrick Condon. He had settled there in an area known as Deerfield Hills, near the town of Utica.

Entry for Patrick Condon in the 1830 United States Federal Census

In the Christmas of 1834, Pádraig wrote letters home to Ballymacoda for the first time, to four of his friends. His first letter home contained nearly 300 lines of verse.

An excerpt from Pádraig’s first letter home in 1834, with English translation

Pádraig’s writings home give a unique insight into the times, and cover such topics as his thoughts on living in the United States, the prices of day-to-day goods in comparison to home, and the status of his crops. His letters also contain requests for news from home, as in 1848 when he wrote to his old friend Tomás Ó Briain in Mountcotton, Ballymacoda, enquiring of the status of the crops at home, which he had heard were ‘wretched, deficient, scanty, and miserable‘. This was at the height of ‘An Gorta Mór‘, the great famine in Ireland.

While it is evident from some of Pádraig’s letters home that he missed Ireland, with him even having said ‘Níl áit fón ngrein do b’fhearr liom bás dfhagáil ioná in Éirinn…‘ – ‘there’s no place I know of under the sun I would rather die than in Ireland‘, his writings also indicate the poverty he had escaped, and his opinion that he was much better off having left Ireland:

…for a day never dawned on me that I thought more sorrowful than the day I left Shanakill – me and my big, poor family – to make our way across the sea to an unknown land. Nonetheless, the mournful, melancholy day I went through then turned into today’s beautiful, sunny, mirthful day, for I have a fine farm in freehold now, and thus I think I am better off as I am rather than having to pay a cruel yearly rent for Shanakill.

Another excerpt from a letter Pádraig wrote home (translated to English from the original Irish)

With regards to poetry, his most famous work is likely ‘Tórramh an Bhairille‘ (‘The Wake of the Barrell‘), written in praise of the people of Ballymacoda. In the composition, he tells of the generosity of the people of Ballymacoda; that the people of these parts will drink alcohol but never drink soda, and that there will always a meal on the table for a visitor.

First verse of ‘Tórramh an Bhairille’, with English translation

Pádraig Phiarais Cúndún died in Deerfield on March 13th 1857, having lived the remainder of his life there. This is confirmed by entries in the United States Federal Census in 1840, 1850 and also in the New York State Census of 1855, all listing Patrick Condon as living in Deerfield.

He is buried in St. Agnes Cemetery in Utica, New York, beside his wife who had died in 1840. What is amazing to learn is that throughout his life, Pádraig remained a monoglot – having never learnt to speak the English language fluently. This was helped no doubt by the large number of Irish emigrants who spoke Gaeilge living in Deerfield and the surrounding area, some of which, as with his old friends in Ballymacoda, Pádraig had correspondence by letter. In recent years, his gravestone has been up-righted and restored by the Irish Cultural Center in Utica.

The restored gravestone of Pádraig Phiarais Cúndún in St. Agnes Cemetery, Utica, New York

Pádraig’s son Piaras, arranged for some of his fathers poems to be published posthumously in the New York based newspaper, The Irish American in 1858. In 1932, Risteard Ó Foghludha published a collection of Pádraig’s poems and letters home to Ballymacoda, having previously published excerpts between 1908 and 1910 in The Gaelic American. Kerby Miller, the noted American historian who transcribed over decades hundreds of letters from Irish immigrants in America, also repeatedly quoted Cúndún’s poetry in the 1985 book Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America.

The poetry and letters of Pádraig Phiarais Cúndún continue to be consulted by scholars and used as teaching materials today. Professor Kenneth E. Nilsen (1947-2012), professor and chair of Celtic Studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Canada described the writings of Pádraig Phiarais Cúndún as representing ‘the most important body of pre-famine writing in Irish from the United States‘.

References & Further Information

Thanks for Kay Cullen for sharing her existing research notes on Pádraig Phiarais Cúndún.

Thanks to Michael Hoke of Utica, New York for providing the pictures of the restored headstone in St. Agnes Cemetery.

U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2010.

1830, 1840, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2010.

Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., State Census, 1855 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.

Cúndún, Pádraig Phiarais, Entry in the Dictionary of Irish Biography

Risteard Ó Foghludha, ed., Pádraig Phiarais Cúndún, 1777-1856, Baile Átha Cliath, 1932.

North American Gaels: Speech, Story, and Song in the Diaspora (McGill-Queen’s Studies in Ethnic History, 2.49), edited by Natasha Sumner, Aidan Doyle, November 2020

The Manchester Martyrs

The execution of three Irishmen in Manchester on November 23rd 1867 caused anger and revulsion across the island of Ireland. William Philip Allen, Michael Larkin, and Michael O’Brien were executed outside the New Bailey Prison in Salford in front of a crowd of thousands. Allen, born 1848, was a native of Tipperary, but grew up near Bandon, Co. Cork. Larkin, born 1835, was a native of Co. Offaly. Michael O’Brien was from Ballymacoda.

The Manchester Martyrs, Allen, Larkin & O’Brien

Michael O’Brien was born in Ballymacoda on January 17th 1838, the son of John & Johanna O’Brien (née O’Neill). His family rented a large farm, but were evicted in 1856. After school, he was apprenticed to a draper in nearby Youghal, where he worked for Arnott, Grant & Co., and later moved to the Queen’s drapery in Cork city. He became involved in the Fenian movement there, through contacts with Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, and for three years he served as deputy to Brian Dillon, leader of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) in Cork city.

In late 1861, he lost his job and decided the following year to emigrate to the United States. At this time, the Northern and Southern states were engaged in the American Civil War (1860-1865). In August 1862, O’Brien joined a Union Army regiment from New Jersey. Records available from the 13th New Jersey Infantry Regiment (Company E), confirm that O’Brien enlisted on August 14th 1862 with the rank of Private, for a period of 3 years. The same record also shows that he was discharged at Eckington U.S. Army General Hospital in Washington, D.C. on February 5th 1863, with the discharge noting ‘Disability‘ as the reason, which one would assume meant he was recovering from some injury received in battle. This seems to be confirmed in October 1864, when O’Brien signed up for the Union Army once again – this time for a period of 1 years service in the 10th Regiment of the Ohio Infantry. The official soldier roster for the Ohio Infantry (seen below), confirms this service, and that he was discharged at San Antonio, Texas on October 17th 1865, having completed his service.

Entry for Michael O’Brien in the Official Soldier Roster, Ohio Infantry

After discharge, he returned to Ireland where he obtained a job as a shop assistant in Cork city and lived for a period with his sister Mary in Glenagare, Ladysbridge. During this time, O’Brien became involved in procuring arms for the Fenian movement in Ireland and England, and travelled regularly for this purpose. In late 1866, he was arrested in Liverpool along with three other Fenians on charges of possession of firearms, after police found army rifles in the basement of a house which they used at the time. Remarkably, all four were acquitted in November that year due to lack of evidence against them.

The Fenian Rising of March 5th 1867 is the next significant event in the story. In the aftermath of the failed rising, two men fled to Britain in an attempt to re-organize. Thomas J. Kelly and Timothy Deasy had fought in the American Civil War similar to Michael O’Brien. They had both been involved in the Fenian Rising and were now on the run from authorities. O’Brien himself had been involved in the rising and had also fled to England, where he stayed with Edward O’Meagher Condon in Manchester, using the assumed name ‘William Gould‘. On September 11th 1867, Kelly and Deasy were arrested in the early hours of the morning in Oak Street in Shudehill, Manchester. Police suspected them of being about to commit a burglary, and didn’t realize until later that the men they had in custody were the wanted Fenians, Kelly and Deasy.

On September 18th, Kelly and Deasy were being transferred from the courthouse to Belle Vue Gaol in Manchester, a Victorian age prison which was known for its deplorable prisoner living conditions. The police van in which they travelled was heavily guarded by mounted police officers. The van contained six prisoners, including a 12 year old boy and two women. Police Sergeant Charles Brett travelled inside the van with the prisoners. As the van travelled along Hyde Road and passed under a railway arch, a man ran into the road and forced the driver to stop at gunpoint. At that moment, a large group of Fenians, including Michael O’Brien and Edward O’Meagher Condon, appeared and attempted to surround the van and the mounted officers, with the goal of liberating Kelly & Deasy.

The scene of the ambush today, the railway arch replaced by a modern bridge

The Fenian rescuers had great difficulty in opening the van door, and called for Sergeant Brett inside to open the door, who refused. His words of reply, “I dare not. I must do my duty,” were later inscribed on his gravestone. One of the Fenians, later alleged to be a Dublin man by the name of Peter Rice, in an attempt to blow the lock, took aim and fired at it just as Sergeant Brett was looking through the keyhole from the other side to see what was going on outside. He was hit in the head by Rice’s shot and killed. One of the women prisoners took the keys from Sergeant Brett’s corpse, and passed them to the group outside through a ventilation hole. Most of the Fenian’s then escaped, having secured Kelly & Deasy, but some including Michael O’Brien, William Allen, and Michael Larkin were later arrested.

The handcuffs worn by Deasy, and purportedly the gun used to kill Sergeant Brett

Sergeant Charles Brett was the first police officer killed whilst on duty in Manchester, causing outrage and a significant backlash from the population and policing authorities. Over the proceeding weeks, many innocent Irishmen were targeted for arrest. A £300 award was offered for information leading to the capture of Kelly & Deasy. By this time, both had already escaped to the United States via Liverpool.

Sergeant Charles Brett (1815-1867)

In late October, proceedings began against the men accused of participating in the attack, via a Special Commission overseen by Mr. Justice Blackburn and Mr. Justice Mellor. In total, there were twenty-six accused before the court – with the principal defendants being Michael O’Brien, Edward O’Meagher Condon, William Allen, Michael Larkin and Thomas Maguire. Maguire was a young Irishman and a member of the Royal Marines, who had been on leave and had been seized by police close to the scene of the attack, just because he was Irish. After the fifth day of the trial, the jury retired to consider its verdict. It took them just over an hour to come back with a guilty verdict for each of the five defendants. The men were invited to speak, had they anything to say before sentence was passed. Michael O’Brien, having received U.S. citizenship for his service in the American Civil War, spoke eloquently claiming that as an American Citizen, he should not be facing trial in England. Perhaps the most famous and enduring remarks came from O’Meagher Condon’s address to the court, at the end of which he shouted “God save Ireland!“, which later inspired the popular Republican song of the same name, written by Timothy Daniel Sullivan, and almost became the second national anthem of Ireland.

The fate of the defendants when handed down by the court, was of no surprise to anyone. The only sentence permitted at the time for murder, was the sentence of death by hanging. Thomas Maguire, the young marine arrested near the scene of the ambush, was later pardoned due to the uncertainty of the evidence against him. Similarly, O’Meagher Condon’s sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment because of his American Citizenship. This left Allen, Larkin and O’Brien to face the gallows.

The execution of the Manchester Martyrs at Salford Prison

The executions took place on the morning of November 23rd 1867, on a specially built gallows outside Salford prison. Large crowds gathered from the previous evening to witness what would become the last public executions to take place in Manchester. The executioner was William Calcraft, a man described as “particularly incompetent“. He had purportedly received death threats in advance from the Fenians, and this coupled with his incompetence meant that he bungled two out of three of the executions. Allen was reported as having died instantly, but Larkin and O’Brien struggled after the ropes dropped, indicating they were still alive. Calcraft descended from the scaffold and pulled on Larkin’s legs until he was dead. A Catholic priest, Fr. Gadd who had ministered to the condemned men, refused to allow him to kill O’Brien in the same way, and so for nearly 45 minutes, the horror continued with Fr. Gadd kneeling before O’Brien, reciting the prayers for the dying. One has to take the times into account, but even for 1867 this was a particularly gruesome execution carried out by a demonstrably incompetent executioner.

Reports of the executions carried in news all over Ireland, including this one in the Waterford News (O’Brien referred to using his pseudonym Gould)

The remains of Allen, Larkin and O’Brien were buried in the New Bailey prison graveyard. When the New Bailey closed a year later, their remains were moved to the cemetery at Strangeways prison (HM Prison Manchester). In the publication “Glasnevin Cemetery: Being a Record of Ireland’s Heroic Dead in Dublin City and County” published by the National Graves Association much later in 1932, a mock funeral procession at Glasnevin in Dublin with an empty coffin for each of the men was referenced:

When the news of their execution reached Ireland, solemn funeral processions were held, and three coffinless hearses proceeded to Glasnevin Cemetery, followed by 60,000 mourners. Allen was a native of Tipperary, O’Brien came from Ballymacoda, Co. Cork, and Larkin from Lusmagh, Offaly.

From “Glasnevin Cemetery: Being a Record of Ireland’s Heroic Dead in Dublin City and County” published by the National Graves Association in 1932

In 1991, the remains of the Manchester Martyrs were once again disturbed by the authorities when they were exhumed, cremated, and reinterred at Blakley Cemetery in the northern suburbs of Manchester, along with the remains of 63 other executed prisoners.

Plaque at the sight of the ambush on Hyde Road, Manchester.

Today, there are numerous monuments remembering the Manchester Martyrs, both in England and Ireland:

  • A monument in Glasnevin Cemetery in Co. Dublin.
  • A monument in Birr, Co. Offaly.
  • A monument in Kilrush, Co. Clare.
  • A memorial at the east end of the Quays in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
  • A Celtic cross in Ladysbridge, Co. Cork.
  • A monument in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Moston, Manchester.
  • A plaque denoting the location of the ambush on Hyde Road, Manchester.
Monument in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Moston, Manchester.

Michael O’Brien, in his last letter dated November 14th, 1867 said:

..much though I would like to live… I cannot regret dying in the cause of Liberty and Ireland. Let no man think a cause is lost because some suffer for it. It is only a proof that those who suffer are in earnest, and should be an incentive to others to be equally so – to do their duty with firmness, justice and disinterestedness

Excerpt from the last letter of Michael O’Brien, preserved at St Patrick’s Church, Livesey Street, Manchester

O’Donovan Rossa wrote of Michael O’Brien in his book ‘Irish Rebels in English Prisons’ describing him as “one of the truest and one of the noblest; as devoted as a lover and as courageous as a lion.”

The Celtic cross commemorating the Manchester Martyrs in Ladysbridge Village

An interesting thing happened in 1870, three years after the execution of the Manchester Martyrs. A relative of the landlord who had evicted Michael O’Brien’s family was threatened with death unless his family was reinstated. This story carried in the many Irish and English newspapers of the time.

Three years after, or three hundred years after, the Manchester Martyrs will always be remembered and revered for their sacrifices for Ireland.

References & Further Information

Dictionary of Irish Biography, Entry for Michael O’Brien

Find a Grave, Entry for Michael O’Brien

Records of the 13th Regiment, Company E, New Jersey Volunteers

Official Soldier Roster, Ohio Infantry

“Glasnevin Cemetery: Being a Record of Ireland’s Heroic Dead in Dublin City and County”, National Graves Association, 1932

Irish Rebels in English Prisons: A Record of Prison Life, by Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa (1880)

Irish Volunteers, Entry for the Manchester Martyrs

The Waterford News, November 29th 1867

The Leeds Mercury, May 7th 1870

A Copper Mine in Knockadoon?

A while ago, I received this question from a reader (a Ballymacoda ex-pat now based in Berlin):

I wonder if you know anything about the mine that you find just around the edge of the Knockadoon head – roughly on the cliff underneath the signal tower. We used to explore the opening of the mine shaft when we were kids but never knew the history of it – it’s totally flooded apart from the opening.

This was intriguing, as I had never heard of any mining that may have happened in Knockadoon. The first reference to mining in Knockadoon I can find is contained in Griffith’s Valuation. Richard John Griffith was appointed to carry out a complete land survey of Ireland in 1825, marking the boundaries of every county, town etc. and providing a valuation and listed owner for each parcel of land. Since there are little surviving Irish Census records before 1901, Griffith’s Valuation is always a useful reference. Griffith’s Valuation for County Cork, completed in July 1853, lists the ‘Mining Co. of Ireland‘ as having an office in Knockadoon, which would surely suggest some local mining activities. The Mining Company of Ireland was formed in 1824, and active until the 1860s.

Luckily, Mining Heritage of Ireland has two entries which seem to suggest that at least two copper mining trials were conducted at Knockadoon Head, which are referred to as the ‘eastern trial‘ and the ‘western trial‘.

Location of copper mining trials a Knockadoon Head, as per Mining Heritage of Ireland

The trials were conducted to see if copper mining could be viable at Knockadoon, likely between 1825 and 1850, but I’ve been unable to find a reference to exact dates. The trial holes are partly hidden today by fallen slabs of rock. It is unclear if the trials were successful, or if any large scale copper mining ever actually took place, however that seems extremely unlikely.

Location of the ‘eastern trial’ at Knockadoon

This is further backed up by references to copper trials at Knockadoon by T.J. Duffy, when he wrote in a 1932 Geological Survey of Ireland report of one of the copper trials conducted at Knockadoon:

There is an old tunnel driven along the strike of a green grit bed in the face of the cliff above high-water mark. Owing to deep water in the tunnel the latter is accessible for a short distance only but apparently it is driven for a considerable distance. Some copper ore was formerly brought to the surface here, and a little residue of it can still be seen on top of the cliff. It does not appear to have been rich.

Copper deposits in Southwest Ireland, Geological Survey of Ireland, 1932

Have you ever heard stories of this mining activity in Knockadoon? I would love to add more information to this article if you have, get in contact.

Additional photo of the location of the eastern trial’ at Knockadoon

References & Further Information

Griffith’s Valuation, Ask About Ireland

Mining Heritage in Ireland (Facebook Group)

Duffy, T. J. 1932. Copper deposits in Southwest Ireland. Geological Survey of Ireland Unpublished Report.

Ballymacoda & World War I

Unsurprisingly, Ballymacoda was not left untouched by the events of July 1914 to November 1918. In this post, we will discuss the men from the parish who served during World War I, some of whom never saw their homes again.

At that time, Ireland was still part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. At the outbreak of war in August 1914, many Irish people, both Nationalist and Unionist supported the war. Many Irishmen, like those from the Ballymacoda area, signed up to serve in the British armed forces. The generally accepted figure is that approximately 200,000 men from Ireland signed up to fight. About 30,000 of these men were killed in action during the course of the war.

WW I recruitment poster used in Ireland

The men from Ballymacoda served across the armed forces, in both the Army & Navy. Based on research carried out using the National Archives of the UK, I have been able to collate information on those who served. Note that this focuses solely on those from Ballymacoda who served during World War I. There are of course numerous records of those who served but were discharged before the war began in 1914, those individuals are not included here.

Royal Navy

Based on my research, the following is a list of those from Ballymacoda who served in the Royal Navy. This list is based on ‘Place of Birth‘ being listed on the official Navy personnel records available from the National Archives of the UK, as well as available naval pension records. Interestingly, there were two men named Patrick McCarthy & two men named Robert Rumley from Ballymacoda who served – indicated by distinct records, service numbers and different dates of birth.

NameDate of BirthNotes
Bartholomew Ronayne18 Apr 1886Discharged 1926
Jeremiah Prior1 Sep 1883Discharged 1919
John Hennessy13 May 1883Discharged 1924
John McCarthy18 May 1886Discharged 1919
John Morrissey25 May 1880Discharged 1918
John Smiddy20 Mar 1898Discharged 1919
Michael Garde29 Sep 1890Discharged 1935
Michael O’Grady26 Dec 1887Discharged 1928
Patrick Donovan15 Aug 1877Discharged 1920
Patrick Hyde3 Mar 1877Discharged 1919
Patrick McCarthy20 Apr 1874Discharged 1920
Robert Rumley1 Nov 1878Discharged 1919
Robert Rumley11 May 1883Discharged 1919
Michael Walsh1869Discharged 1919
Jeremiah Shea1893Discharged 1918
Richard RumleyUnknownDischarged 1916
John O’BrienUnknownDischarged 1919
Jeremiah FoleyUnknownDischarged 1919
Patrick WalshUnknownDischarged 1914
Patrick ShanahanUnknownDischarged 1919
William Daly1883Discharged 1920
William Shanahan1878Discharged 1918
Patrick Lynch1871Discharged 1919
James Irwin2 Jul 1881Discharged 1923
Patrick GardeUnknownDischarged 1919
John Ronayne20 Aug 1882Died in 1914
Maurice QuirkeAbt. 1894Died in 1916
Patrick SheaUnknownDied in 1916
Richard Ahern 10 Apr 1877Died in 1917
Michael McCarthy23 Apr 1888Died after discharge in 1918
Michael Canty12 Aug 1876Died in 1918
Patrick McCarthy17 Jun 1884Died in 1919

The following gives more information on those who died.

John Ronayne was born in Ballymacoda on August 20th, 1882. He served aboard HMS Bullfinch with the rank of Stoker 1st Class. He died on August 15th 1914 when the Bullfinch was involved in a collision with a merchant steamer in British waters. He was buried at Scartho Road Cemetery, Scartho Road, Grimsby, Lincolnshire, UK.

The memorial to John Ronayne from Ballymacoda in Lincolnshire, killed in August 1914

Maurice Quirke was the son of John and Margaret Quirke and lived in Garryvoe. He served aboard HMS Indefatigable with the rank of Stoker 1st Class. He died aged 22 on May 31st 1916, when the Indefatigable was sunk by the German ship Von der Tann during the Battle of Jutland. Of a crew of 1,019 aboard Indefatigable, only 3 survived. He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 16.

Patrick Shea was from Knockadoon, and was the son of Timothy & Nora Shea, and the husband of Hannah Shea. He died on December 8th 1916, when the ship he was serving on, HMT Dagon, was torpedoed in the Dover area (the only trawler to be torpedoed in this area during WWI). The Dagon was a fishing vessel which had been hired by the Royal Navy and converted to an armed trawler to be used as a minesweeper in 1915. On December 8th 1916, all crew were lost when the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine. He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 19.

Richard Ahern from Knockadoon was born on April 10th, 1877, the son of Daniel and Mary Ahern. He served aboard the SS Polandia with the rank of Leading Seaman. He was killed in action at sea on March 11th 1917, when the Polandia was sunk by a German submarine while on route from Birkenhead in England to Cherbourg in France. He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Panel 23.

Michael McCarthy from Ballymacoda served in the Royal Naval Reserve with the rank of Seaman. He was born on April 23rd, 1888 and was the son of Michael & Mary McCarthy from Ballyskibole. He was honorably discharged due to tuberculosis in 1915, and died on February 7th, 1918. He was awarded the Silver War Badge, given to those who had been honorably discharged due to wounds or sickness from military service. He is commemorated at the Brookwood 1914-1918 memorial, Panel 1, in Surrey, UK.

Michael Canty was born in Ballymacoda on August 12th 1876. He served in the Royal Navy with the rank of Leading Stoker, and died on October 26th, 1918. His cause of death was recorded as ‘died from disease‘. He was buried at the Weston Mill Cemetery, Weston Mill, Devonport, Devon.

Memorial to Michael Canty from Ballymacoda, at Weston Mill Cemetery, Devon, UK,

Patrick McCarthy served in the Royal Navy aboard HMS Bellerophon with the rank of Leading Stoker. He was born in Ballymacoda on June 17th 1884, the eldest son of William & Bridget McCarthy of Gortcorcoran. He died on January 19th 1919 in an accidental drowning (just a few months after the war had ended). He was buried in the Hill Cemetery in Ballymacoda.

Army

As well as the Navy, men from Ballymacoda also served and in the army during the Great War, although to a lesser extent based on my research of the available records. Below is the list of men who served in the army. Where available, the Notes column contains the name of the unit in which they served.

NameDate of BirthNotes
Timothy McCarthyApril 1896Served in the Royal Munster Fusiliers.
Thomas McCarthy
Abt. 1899Served in the Royal Irish Regiment.
Jerome TwomeyUnknownServed as Corporal in the Guards Machine Gun Company.
James ConnollyUnknownServed in the Irish Guards. Discharged in 1919.
John MearaUnknownServed in the Royal Engineers.
John Smiddy1895Died 1915 (see below)
John CondonAbt. 1890Died 1917 (see below)
Richard HydeAbt. 1876Died 1918 (see below)
Michael Daly2 Jan 1876Died 1918 (see below)
James O’NeillAbt. 1895Died 1918 (see below)

Based on my research, the following is a list of the men from Ballymacoda who served in the army, and were killed in action.

John Smiddy from Ballykeneally, Ballymacoda served in the Grenadier Guards, 1st Battalion with the rank of Guardsman. He was killed at the Battle of Loos in France on October 17th, 1915. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial in Pas-de-Calais, France.

John Condon from Ring, Ballymacoda, the son of David and Ellen Condon, served in the Royal Irish Regiment, 7th Battalion with the rank of Private. He was killed in action in France on December 12th 1917. He was buried in Templeux-Le-Guerard British Cemetery in France.

Richard Hyde from Ballydaniel, Ballymacoda served in the Royal Munster Fusiliers, 1st Battalion with the rank of Private. He was killed in action at Flanders on September 30th 1918. He was buried in the Cantaing British Cemetery in France.

Memorial to Richard Hyde from Ballymacoda, in Cantaing-sur-Escaut, Departement du Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France

Michael Daly from Ballymacoda served in the Irish Guards 2nd Battalion with the rank of Private. He died of wounds sustained in battle in France on May 29th 1918. He was buried in Doullens Communal Cemetery, Doullens, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France.

James O’Neill from Warren, Ballymacoda served in the Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment with the rank of Private. He died on February 20th 1918. He was buried at Villers-Faucon, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France.

Memorial to James O’Neill from Warren, in
Villers-Faucon Communal Cemetery, France

I was aware that some people from Ballymacoda served during WWI, but after concluding this research, I was surprised at the extent of the involvement of men from the parish.

In a future post, I will look at WWII and the involvement of people from Ballymacoda there.

References & Further Information

Ireland, World War I Casualties, 1914-1922 [database online]

UK, Royal Navy Registers of Seamen’s Services, 1848-1939 [database online]

UK, Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 [database online]

Commonwealth War Graves, Entry for John Ronayne

Commonwealth War Graves, Entry for Patrick Shea

Commonwealth War Graves, Entry for Richard Ahern

Commonwealth War Graves, Entry for Michael McCarthy

Commonwealth War Graves, Entry for Patrick McCarthy

Commonwealth War Graves, Entry for Maurice Quirke

Reference for Michael Canty – UK, Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 [database on-line]

UK, World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 [database on-line]

In Flanders Fields Museum, Ireland’s Memorial Records [available online]

Reference for John Condon – UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 [database on-line].

Commonwealth War Graves, Entry for John Smiddy

The Ballymacoda Company, Cork No. 1 Brigade, 4th Battalion

During the Irish War of Independence, the Ballymacoda company of the I.R.A. was part of the Cork No. 1 Brigade, 4th Battalion – designated as company ‘O‘.

Rough map of the operational area for the Cork No. 1 Brigade, 4th Battalion (from the Military Archives of Ireland)

The records available from the ‘Military Service Pensions Collection‘ for the Cork No. 1 Brigade, 4th Battalion indicate that the commander of the Ballymacoda brigade was Captain John Ahern, with Lieutenant Matt Walsh as second in command. Note that these were likely the last officers in charge of the company when the records were compiled after the War of Independence. There is evidence of previous commanders contained in the witness statements taken by the Bureau of Military History. For example, the witness statement of Joseph Aherne, captain of the Midleton company, makes reference to Pat Gumbleton being commander of the Ballymacoda company at one point. The company was 60-strong – comparatively larger than other similar areas, for example the Ladysbridge (‘I’ company) and Killeagh (‘J1’ company) groups each had 35 members, and Carrigtwohill (‘D’ company) had 32.

There is some evidence to be found of the activities of the Ballymacoda company in the witness statements of the Bureau of Military History. The statement of Patrick J. Whelan, who was Vice Commandant of the Cork No. 1 Brigade, 4th Battalion, provides evidence that the Ballymacoda company was involved in the attack on the R.I.C. barracks in Cloyne on May 8th 1920. The objective of this raid was to obtain arms, and it was successful, with the R.I.C. surrendering the barracks and their guns being secured. However, based on the account of Whelan the men from Ballymacoda got a bit over excited in the aftermath of the raid:

We fell in on the Main Street and sang the “Soldiers song”, with great gusto. The boys from Ballymacoda were in great form. but were foolish enough to identify their presence by shouting, “Up Ballymacoda”, until ordered to stop by Mick Leahy.

From Patrick Whelan’s account of the attack on the R.I.C. barracks in Cloyne, May 1920

There is also evidence, from the witness statement of Edmond O’Brien who was a member of ‘C’ company (Shanagarry), that members from the Ballymacoda company participated in a failed attack on a lorry travelling between Youghal and Ballycotton, at Ballylanguane, Shanagarry in August 1920, with the plan being to dig a trench across the road, capture the lorry with minimal damage, switch uniforms with the occupants, and drive to Ballycotton in disguise in an attempt to capture the R.I.C. barracks there. However, this plan ultimately failed when the lorry arrived sooner than expected and was able to drive over the half completed trench with just a few shots being fired by the attackers.

O’Brien’s witness statement also describes the building of a ‘dug out’ (for concealing arms and ammunition) at Shanagarry in late 1920. In order to make the dug out waterproof, specific materials would be required which were not easily available at the time. O’Brien describes the successful raid on a partially built and sparsely guarded aerodrome at Ballyquirk, Killeagh where members of the Shanagarry company, assisted by members of the Ballymacoda and Ladysbridge companies overpowered the guards and secured cement and corrugated iron for the purpose of waterproofing the dug out.

Perhaps the most famous member of the Ballymacoda company was Richard (Dick) Hegarty of Moanroe, Garryvoe, and his story has been told many times in much better words than I can express here. In September/October 1920, a flying column was organized within the 4th battalion. The flying column was to be composed of men already on the run, or men in imminent danger of arrest, and Richard Hegarty was a member from its formation. In the worst loss of life suffered by the I.R.A. during the War of Independence, the flying column was to be decimated in February 1921 at Clonmult, when the farmhouse they were billeted in was surrounded by British forces.

So, there is plenty evidence available of the activities of the Ballymacoda company and their involvement in key operations and events in East Cork during the War of Independence, but what of the members themselves? The following is a list of the 60 recorded members of the Ballymacoda company. This list is compiled from the pension records available from the Military Service Pensions Collection. Please see the notes below.

Notes

  • This data is transcribed from a very old (1930s), handwritten document, so it may contain transcription errors.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the names presented by searching the closest reference point – the 1911 Census of Ireland – the data in the Address column is compiled from these Census records.
  • Where the Census records returned multiple matches, e.g. a person of the same name and appropriate age living in a different townland in the locality, all results are included.
  • As names are transcribed from a handwritten document, 4 entries are only partially legible – these are captured at the end of the table for completeness.
  • Except for the illegible entries, the names appear in the same order as in the pension records.
NameAddress
Pat ManningGarryvoe
Peter HegartyGarryvoe
Richard HegartyGarryvoe
John FinnBallypherode
Pat MorriseyGarryvoe
Pat DonoghueBallymacoda
John HennessyBallymakeagh, Monagoul, Mountcotton or Shanakiel
William HennessyMountcotton or Shanakiel
Pat MurphyGlenawilling, Shanavagoon, Ballymacoda or Ballydaniel
John LeahyBohillane
Tom LeahyBohillane
Pat LeahyBohillane
William LeahyUnknown
Pat AhernBarnfield
Martin WalshBarnfield or Knockadoon
William WigmoreBallymacoda
Pat WigmoreBallymacoda
James RussellBallyfleming
Pat GumbletonBallymacoda
John SlocumUnknown
James JoyceGarryvoe
John AhernBarnfield
Mick ShanahanUnknown
Pat ShanahanKnockadoon or Ring
Maurice ShanahanUnknown
John CondonBallyskibbole or Ballymacoda
Michael FoleyKnockadoon
James Walsh SnrUnknown
James Walsh JnrUnknown
Tom WalshUnknown
William HydeGlenawilling
Charlie HydeGlenawilling
James CondonGlenawilling
Richard CondonRing or Ballyskibbole
William KinieryBallykinealy
William FinnBallypherode
Tom HigginsBallypherode
Tom QuinnMountcotton
Pat QuinnMountcotton
John O’BrienMountcotton
Richard O’BrienMountcotton
Pat O’NeillWarren
Tom O’NeillWarren
Jeremiah O’NeillGarryvoe
John HegartyGarryvoe
William WalshKnockadoon or Shanakill
Tom CurtinUnknown
Pat WalshUnknown
Michael CullinaneLoughane
David CashmanKilcredan
Richard CashmanBallycrenane
Maurice PowerGlenawilling
Tom ConnorsUnknown
Michael PowerUnknown
Pat PowerGlenawilling
William ConnorsUnknown
<illegible> Leahy
David <illegible>
David <illegible>
Pat <illegible>

References & Further Information

Military Service Pensions Collection, Cork No. Brigade, 4th Battalion, Military Archives of Ireland

Bureau of Military History, Witness Statement 1449, Commandant Patrick J. Whelan

Bureau of Military History, Witness Statement 1367, Joseph Aherne

Bureau of Military History, Witness Statement 623, Edmond O’Brien