The Killing of Captain Liam Hoare in Ballymacoda, April 8th 1921

On April 8th, it will be the 100th anniversary of the killing of Captain Liam Hoare. The world is a very different place from the afternoon of Friday April 8th 1921 when the 24 year old was killed in Ballymacoda, another brutality to be attributed to the forces of the crown in Ireland at that time.

William (Liam) Hoare had come to live with his Aunt and Uncle, Michael and Margaret Cunningham, at Beanfield in Clonpriest near Youghal a few years earlier. The 1911 Census of Ireland records show only one William Hoare in the entirety of the country who would be the right age at that time (14) as the William Hoare who was killed in Ballymacoda 10 years later. He is recorded as living in Kilbarraree, a townland in the parish of Cloyne, where he had lived before moving to Beanfield.

William (Liam) Hoare captured in the 1911 census records

Captain Liam Hoare was a member of the Ballymacoda company (‘O‘ company) of the 4th Battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade of the IRA . There are a couple of versions of the story of how Hoare came to meet his end in Ballymacoda.

One story goes that at approximately 13:45, Constable Harold Thompson of the RIC who was driving the leading vehicle in a convoy, spotted Hoare leaving his bicycle against a hedge in Ballymacoda village. Constable Thompson stopped, and ran towards Hoare causing him to run into Gumbleton’s house at the bottom of the village. Allegedly, the RIC only fired after Hoare did first, firing four shots in their direction, but that is impossible to verify, and highly unlikely to be true. Hoare was killed, and allegedly a Mauser automatic pistol and revolver were found to be in his possession.

A further account, given by a Constable Connaughton, says that when Hoare spotted the convey, he had immediately jumped from his bicycle and ran. When ordered to stop by Constable Thompson, he failed to comply and was shot and killed.

There is an interesting side note here that I’ve not seen mentioned anywhere before relating to Constable Harold Thompson, involved in both versions of events as outlined above. As well as being the constable who spotted the young Captain Hoare in Ballymacoda that afternoon, he also had a connection to the Battle of Clonmult. Constable Thompson, who was an Australian, was killed just over a month later on May 14th in Midleton along with two other RIC members. This was seen as a reprisal for the killing of two IRA prisoners taken at the Clonmult ambush in February 1921.

The IRA version of the killing of Captain Liam Hoare, as mentioned in the book “Cork’s Revolutionary Dead” is very different, as recalled by Kevin Murphy from Cobh, a member of Fianna Éireann, in a witness statement:

I was arrested and taken to the military camp at The Hutments, Belmont, Cobh, where I was put into the guardroom. Here two soldiers stood in front of me, loading and unloading their rifles and all the time threatening to shoot me if I failed to give information regarding the IRA. After half an hour or so of this sort of business, and failing to make me give them any information, I was put into a cell adjoining the guardroom and left there for the night without a bed of any kind on which I could lie. In the morning I noticed what appeared to be clotted blood on the floor of the cell, and after a while the soldiers brought me a bucket of water, a scrubbing brush and cloths to clean up the floor. I refused point blank to do this. I learned later that an IRA prisoner named Hoare from East Cork who had been shot by the Cameron Highlanders, tied with ropes to a military lorry and dragged for miles along the road, had been thrown into the cell which I now occupied. This accounted for the clotted blood on the floor which I was ordered to wash.

Kevin Murphy, Bureau of Military History, Witness Statement 1629

Liam Hoare’s remains were brought to St Ita’s Church at Gortroe on the evening of Saturday April 9th, with the coffin draped in the republican flag. The funeral mass took place on April 12th, with huge crowds reported as being in attendance. The funeral procession from Gortroe to Ballymacoda was reported to have taken over 2 hours, where Liam Hoare was laid to rest in the churchyard near Fenian leader Peter O’Neill Crowley, and his comrade Richard Hegarty, killed at the Battle of Clonmult earlier that year. He was survived by his Aunt and Uncle, and two younger sisters, with his parents being already dead. Interestingly, in the Military Service Pensions Collection archive it is noted that an application was made by Liam Hoare’s sister for a service medal which was approved, but it is unclear from the file if the medal was ever issued to his surviving family.

In 1946, on the 25th anniversary of his death, a monument was unveiled to Captain Liam Hoare in the churchyard at Ballymacoda. Orations were given by Florrie O’Donoghue and Sean O’Hegarty.

O’Donoghue, who was intelligence officer of the Cork No. 1 brigade said of Hoare in his oration:

“Hoare was typical of the men of the IRA at a time when the Army had attracted to its ranks all that was brave and virile, all that was chivalrous, unselfish and high-spirited,” presenting “the best of the young manhood of the nation.”

The book “Historical Remains of Ballymacoda and Ladysbridge” lists the memorial committee members as Michael Shanahan (chairman), Patrick Lawton (honorary secretary), J. Hegarty (treasurer), and John O’Keefe and W. Wigmore (committee members).

The monument to Captain Liam Hoare in Ballymacoda Churchyard

References & Further Information

The Irish Revolution, Volunteer Liam Hoare

The National Archives of Ireland, 1911 Census Records

The Dead of the Irish Revolution, Eunan O’Halpin, Daithi O Corrain, Yale University Press, October 2020

Cork’s Revolutionary Dead by Barry Keane

Bureau of Military History, Witness Statement 1629, Kevin Murphy

Historical Remains of Ballymacoda and Ladysbridge, Ballymacoda / Ladysbridge Community Council Historical Society

Irish Military Archives, Military Service Pensions Collection