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Clonmult Ambush

In January 1921 the active service unit of the Fourth Battalion of the First Cork Brigade took possession of a disused farmhouse in a secluded position overlooking the village of Clonmult. Commandant O'Hurley decided to ambush a military train at Cobh Junction on Tuesday February 22nd 1921. He set out to make the necessary arrangements accompanied by Vice-Commandant Joseph Aherne and Captain Patrick Whelan. On Sunday February 20th Michael Desmond and John Joe Joyce left the farmhouse to go to the nearby spring when they noticed that the house was being surrounded by British forces. They both died as they fought to return to the house, but not before they had warned those inside of the situation. A sortie from the house was attempted in the hope that assistance could be organised from the local company. The acting O/C, Captain Jack O'Connell managed to break through but was unable to bring help on time. The Volunteers trapped inside made a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to escape through a narrow opening in the gable. With the farmhouse burning around them an attempt was made to surrender but many of the Volunteers were killed in a hail of bullets from the Black and Tan forces who had come to reinforce the British regulars. Of the prisoners taken two were later executed, five others had their sentence commuted and one, Captain Higgins, who had been shot through the mouth had his life spared by the advent of the Truce.
 
Surname Firstname Rank Company Outcome
Aherne James Captain Cobh Killed while jumping a fence 200 yards from the house, attempting a sortie to organise aid
Aherne Jeremiah Volunteer Midleton Killed
Aherne Joseph Vice-Commandant Midleton Left Clonmult prior to the ambush to make arrangements for the Columns transfer to Dooneen
Aherne Liam Volunteer Midleton Killed
Dennehy Donal Volunteer Midleton Killed
Desmond David Volunteer Midleton Killed
Desmond Michael Volunteer Midleton Killed while attempting to fight his way back to the house from the spring
Garde   Volunteer   Captured, death sentence commuted
Glavin James Volunteer Cobh Killed while trying to breach the gable
Hallahan Michael Volunteer Midleton Killed on the doorstep while attempting a sortie to organise aid
Harty   Volunteer   Captured, death sentence commuted
Hegarty Richard Volunteer Garryvoe Killed at a fence in front of the house while attempting a sortie to organise aid
Higgins Paddy Captain   Captured, sentenced to death, saved by the Truce of July 11
Joyce John Joe Volunteer Midleton Killed while attempting to fight his way back to the house from the spring
Moore Maurice Volunteer Cobh Captured and executed at Cork military barracks April 28th 1921
Morrissey Joseph Volunteer Athlone Killed
O'Connell Jack Captain, Acting O/C Cobh Succeeded in crossing the British lines and attempted to organise local aid
O'Hurley Diarmuid Commandant Bandon Left Clonmult prior to the ambush to make arrangements for the Columns transfer to Dooneen, Killed May 28th 1921
O'Leary J. Volunteer   Wounded while trying to breach the gable, captured, death sentence commuted
O'Sullivan Christopher Volunteer Midleton Killed
O'Sullivan Paddy Volunteer Cobh Captured and executed at Cork military barracks April 28th 1921
Terry Edmund Volunteer   Captured, death sentence commuted
Walsh   Volunteer   Captured, death sentence commuted
Whelan Patrick Captain   Left Clonmult prior to the ambush to make arrangements for the Columns transfer to Dooneen

 

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