Volunteer Christopher (Christy) Lucey

 

Volunteer Christopher (Christy) Lucey (aged 22) of 3 Pembroke Street, Cork city (Tooreenduff, Ballingeary/Macroom)

Date of incident: 10 Nov. 1920

Sources: II, 31 July, 11, 12 Nov. 1920; CWN, 7 Aug., 20 Nov. 1920; CE, 11, 12, 13 Nov. 1920; CC, 11 Nov. 1920; CCE, 13 Nov. 1920; Interview with Jamie Moynihan, Ernie O’Malley Notebooks, P17b/112 (UCDA); WS 558 of Mark Wickham et al., 3 (BMH); Daniel Harrington’s WS 1532, 10 (BMH); Cornelius Cronin’s WS 1726, 7 (BMH); IRA Roll of Honour, Cork No. 1 Brigade (Cork Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork); Rebel Cork’s FS, 25; Ó Suílleabhhaín (1965), 159-60; Last Post (1976), 74; McCall (2010), 130; ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 139; Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 141; http://www.ballingearyhs.com/journal2000/moonlighting_case.html (accessed 9 Oct. 2015); http://theauxiliaries.com/companies/c-coy/c-coy.html (accessed 28 April 2016); IRA Memorial, The Square, Macroom.

 

Note: Lucey was killed at Túirín Dubh, Ballingeary, on 10 November 1920. Described as ‘one of our best men’, Lucey ‘had stayed with his friends and comrades, the Twomeys of Túirín Dubh, during the summer months. Having taken part in all the activities of the local company, he had decided to remain with them in the coming struggle.’ He slept in the rough on a hillside across the road from the Twomeys’ dwelling, but one morning as he made his usual descent to their house, he was trapped unarmed by a band of Auxiliaries of C Company from Macroom and shot dead as he tried to escape. See Ó Suílleabhhaín (1965), 159-60. According to an official report from Dublin Castle, Lucey fired at the Auxiliaries before they returned fire and killed him. See CE, 11 Nov. 1920.

 

Previously a resident of Pembroke Street in Cork city and a former pupil —‘a brilliant student’—of the Christian Brothers and then of the medical faculty in University College Cork, Lucey ‘was prominently identified with the Volunteers and was arrested during a raid near Skibbereen and sentenced by court martial to 3 years’ imprisonment’. He had served a portion of his sentence in Cork city, but he was then transferred to Mountjoy in Dublin. He went on hunger strike there with many others and was released earlier in 1920. Since then he had been on the run. See II, 11 Nov. 1920.

 

Along with his cousins Liam and Tadhg Twomey and other Volunteers, Christy Lucey had participated in the successful ambush and capture of two British military lorries that had travelled through the village of Ballingeary on 28 July 1920. See http://www.ballingearyhs.com/journal2000/moonlighting_case.html (accessed 9 Oct. 2015). Lucey was arrested on suspicion of having participated in this ambush of two military lorries in the Pass of Kéimaneigh near Gougane Barra on 28 July. Three soldiers were reportedly wounded in this ambush, two rather seriously. The twelve soldiers in the second lorry, eleven of them armed, were surrounded by Volunteers and disarmed. The Volunteers seized all the ammunition in the two lorries and then sprinkled them with petrol and set them on fire. Of the four arrests made after the ambush, three took place at the Munster Irish Training College in Ballingeary; Lucey was among those arrested. He was then known to have been one of the Mountjoy hunger-strikers. See II, 31 July 1920.

 

A former member of B Company of the First Battalion (Cork No. 1 Brigade) in Cork city, Lucey was given an impressive funeral and burial in St Finbarr’s Cemetery that captured wide attention, including hostile attention from British military forces in Cork city: ‘Shortly before the [funeral] cortege started, an armoured car, accompanied by 2 lorries full of armed soldiers, arrived near the church, and the officer in charge served a notice on Rev. J. F. Murphy, Adm., that only 100 would be allowed to participate in the cortege. Elaborate military preparations were in evidence to ensure that the official instructions would be carried out, and when the funeral, having left Dunbar St, emerged into George’s Quay, an armoured car took up a position in the procession immediately before the mourners’ carriages. The two lorries of soldiers followed after the funeral. The coffin, which was draped in the republican colours, was carried on the shoulders of 4 Volunteers, and the pallbearers at the hearse, which was covered with beautiful wreaths, were also Volunteer colleagues of the deceased. The side paths along the route were lined with spectators, who saluted with reverent sympathy.’ See II, 13 Nov. 1920.

 

Lucey was section commander of B Company of the First Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade, but he later joined the Ballingeary Volunteer Company. Christy Lucey’s family had deep roots in northwest Cork, particularly in Kanturk and in the Inchigeelagh and Ballingeary districts, as shown in part by the list of chief mourners at his funeral. His uncle Michael Lucey (a retired Kanturk shopkeeper), and Michael’s son Denis and daughter Nan (Christy’s cousins), attended his funeral, as did his aunts Miss Kate and Miss Julia Lucey of Dromanallig (Ballingeary), and his cousins Ellie, Patrick, and Peggy Lucey, all of Inchigeelagh, along with still other cousins (the Twomeys) from Ballingeary. Leading the mourners were Christy’s widowed mother Nora, his younger brother Seán, and his sister May. See CE, 13 Nov. 1920. 

 

The Auxiliary who shot and killed the unarmed Lucey on 10 November was himself soon executed by the IRA, as Volunteer Jamie Moynihan later recalled: ‘When the Tans returned to Macroom that evening, they entered the Market Bar and began to celebrate. They were toasting one man in particular, and he described in detail how he had taken aim and fired the fatal shot. The barman, an ex-RIC man named Vaughan, was able to identify the man, and he informed the Macroom Volunteer officers. All companies in Mid-Cork and city were notified about his man, and a few weeks later he was again identified by Volunteers in Cork city when he signed his name to a docket when ordering military supplies. When he returned to collect his order, he was taken prisoner and executed.’ See

Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 141.  


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