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

Liam Hoare: Oration by Florrie O’Donoghue

This coming Thursday, April 8th 2021, is the 100th anniversary of the killing of Captain Liam Hoare of the I.R.A by British forces in Ballymacoda.

Following on from the last post detailing the events around the killing, below is the text of the oration given by Florrie O’Donoghue at the dedication of the monument to Liam Hoare in Ballymacoda churchyard on Sunday August 4th, 1946. O’Donoghue was head of intelligence for the Cork No. 1 Brigade of the IRA during the war of independence, and later a historian who published a biography of General Liam Lynch.

A little over 25 years ago Liam Hoare, Captain of the Gortroe Company, 4th Battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade, Irish Republican Army, was laid to rest in this place after he had been shot down and killed by the Black and Tans. He was a soldier in arms, a member of an organization then waging lawful warfare against these last and most despicable representatives of the long line of mercenaries whose services England had used for many centuries to hold this nation in subjection. He was an officer in a well-organized and disciplined force. Part of that force he had himself organized and trained – the Gortroe company of the I.R.A.

To the I.R.A., the government of the Irish Republic, elected by an overwhelming majority of the Irish people, had delegated the honor and the duty of its defense. In that service Liam Hoare served faithfully; in that service he met a soldiers death. He died at 24, with the summer of his life still before him, but the nation and the manner of his death have assured his memory has a permanent a place in the hearts of his people as the memories of these patriots of another time, whose names today are linked with his, patriot soldiers like Thomas Bowler Cullinane and Peter O’Neill Crowley.

The memories which a nation keeps in its heart are a spiritual defence against annihilation. That they are sufficient to save the nations soul even when its material defence has been destroyed, has been proved in our own history. One of the most cherished and sacred memories of the Irish people is the remembrance of the soldiers who died in battle before the firing squad, by the hangman’s ropes or in the prison cell, in the cause of Irish liberty. Ireland has always honored her patriot dead; for her soldiers she has reserved the highest place of honor and of love and that is a true instinct – an indication of adherence to something fundamental and indestructible in the national character.

In coming together to mark on an enduring stone of the last resting place of Liam Hoare the people of East Cork have borne testimony to their own faith that the memory of his life and of his death will live to sustain and inspire future generations. They have borne testimony, too, to the honor in which his memory is held in his native place. I would like to be permitted to join in paying a tribute to the committee who worked so energetically and so well for this worthy project, and to all those whose assistance made possible the erection of this fine memorial. Time has thinned the ranks of those who were his comrades in the last fight, but time has not dimmed, nor will it ever dim, the place his memory holds in the hearts of his people.

East Cork and particularly this neighborhood has intimate association with the Fenians. But the fight which they had planned in ’67 ended, as so many previous efforts had ended, in failure, in despair and apathy, in the crumbling of a high spirited but poorly armed organization when the leaders had been killed as Peter O’Neill Crowley was, or doomed to living death in prison or in exile as were John O’Leary, Thomas Clarke Luby, Jeremiah Donovan Rossa, John Devoy, Charles Kickham, Brian Dillon and many others.

Between the Fenians and the Irish Volunteers a generation of young men had failed to rise in arms against the tyranny of foreign rule. Pearse said of that failure: “There was nothing more terrible in Irish history”. And we can see more truly today perhaps how terrible a thing it was, how neatly it brought us to final extinction as a separate nation. For the first time the mass of the people turned for a whole generation to other and less worthy methods; for the first time the subtle effects of the policy of ‘purchasing the one half of us and intimidating the other’, had our apparent acquiescence; for the first time we had come perilously close to losing contact with the tradition of the soldier, with the soldiers fortitude and fidelity with his high conception of service to the nation, with his wholesome unselfish patriotism, with his loyal and steadfast spirit. The nation sickened and was dying.

But a few remained faithful to the old ideals and from the spark they nursed through those bitter years came the conflagration of 1916. There never was any hope of freedom unless the nation in arms fought for it. The Volunteers believed, with O’Donovan Rossa, that there were enough young men in Ireland to wrest her freedom from England by their own unaided efforts if they fought; that there always would be enough of them; that they needed only unity and arms and the determination to fight.

Here in the South, as for the most of the country, the testing time for the Volunteers came in the years after 1916. That the Volunteers organization after the failure of 1916 – for it was a military failure – did not crumble or run into the sand, as did the Fenian organization after the failure of ’67, is due, under God, to the young men all over the country who, like Liam Hoare, rebuilt, extended and maintained the organization, nursed and trained and hammered and hardened it, gave it vision and coherence, discipline and fighting spirit. They did not worry or grow faint hearted, at a time when public opinion had not yet braced itself to resist the shock of terrorism – terrorism against the civil population with which their enemies answered the tactics of the IRA – at a time when their own shortage of arms and of all the means of warfare were almost desperate as were those of the Fenian’s in ’67. Had these soldiers wavered then, had they remined inactive, had they thought only of themselves and their own interests, 1916 would have been just another glorious failure added to 1798, 1803, 1848, and 1867. We would still be an occupied country today, possibly a country devastated by the ruin of war.

Time had but served to emphasize that the men of the I.R.A. were not only good soldiers and good patriots in forcing the resumption of the fight in 1919, 1920 and 1921, but also that they had recaptured that clarity of vision as to means and objective, had certainty of what was right and brave and honorable, of what was truest in the national interests, which had been the guiding star of the patriot soldiers, who were their predecessors. Nowhere was that vision clearer; nowhere was that determination to fight on at all costs until victory was won more firm than in this county of Cork; nowhere were there better leaders or better soldiers as County Cork was in the van of the fight, so East Cork, the 4th Battalion to which Liam Hoare belonged, but the valor and initiative of its officer and men gained and held a high and honored place amounts the best battalions in the county. To its arms fell the honor of capturing the first police barracks to be taken in Ireland after 1916 – Carrigtwohill – on 2nd January 1920. In Diarmiud Hurley, who died on active service, the battalion had a commander who was a fearless soldier a capable leader and a patriotic Irishman.

Liam 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 in the best of the young manhood of the nation. He had to contend with the same difficulties, the same sufferings as most of his comrades in arms. He had to toil and plan, to leave his home and work, to sacrifice his worldly prospects, to suffer the vicissitudes of a fugitive, to risk his life so that he may serve full the cause and the calling which were nearest to his heart. Much – much more – was demanded of men like him than is demanded of the soldier in normal times of defence of his country; more – much more – was given and given generously. Like his comrades he realized that freedom’s sacrifice demands sacrifice. He had will to make it, and did make it to the full measure of his young life. For this we honor his memory as we honor the memories of all those who died in every age in the cause of our freedom. For this we mark their graves and make them a place of pilgrimage.

The objective for which they worked and for which they died – a free and sovereign Republic for the whole of Ireland – has not yet been attained. Each generation has its own problems and has its own contribution to make to the achievement of that ideal. Each generation must first find the road of service for itself as Liam Hoare’s generation sought and found it. The young men of the generation which has grown up since 1920 will be heartened in that service and understanding of the service given by men like him by an appreciation not alone of what they strove to do, but also of the obstacles that they had to overcome; they will be hearted by the knowledge that they men of the Irish Republican Army, though their work is incomplete, did lay the secure foundations which immutably determined the future destiny of the Irish nation.

Liam Hoare had a worthy part in that service. Because of it he has joined the ranks of those of whom it may truly be said:

“They shall be spoken of among their people; The generations shall remember them and call them blessed.”

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