Volunteer Patrick Tarrant

 

Volunteer Patrick Tarrant (aged 18 or 19) of Ballintemple, Cork city (GPO, Cork city/Pembroke St entrance)

Date of incident: 21 Dec. 1920

Sources: CE, 22, 28 Dec. 1920; II, 22 Dec. 1920, 7 Jan. 1921; Kerryman, 25 Dec. 1920; Military Inquests, WO 35/159B/18 (TNA); RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork City and East Riding, Dec. 1920 (CO 904/113, TNA); Weekly Summary of Outrages against the Police, Dec. 1920 (CO 904/148-50, TNA); ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 141.

 

Note: On the night of 21 December 1920 a daring attempt was made by three men to rob the General Post Office in Cork city. This robbery was ‘evidently planned with much deliberation’, according to the editor of the Cork Examiner. In the course of the attack an Auxiliary policemen shot dead Patrick Tarrant, one of the raiders (he was standing guard at the Pembroke Street entrance), and one of the police was himself wounded. In addition, a civilian named Timothy Donovan, who was in the process of delivering parcels to the GPO, was shot in the abdomen and died of his wounds the next day at the Mercy Hospital. See CE, 22 Dec. 1920. A police account succinctly summarised the bloody event: ‘At 7.30 p.m. on 21.12.20 a party of armed men raided the GPO. Two plainclothes policemen in the [Post] Office at the time counterattacked the attackers and shot one dead [Tarrant] and wounded another. One of the police was wounded.’ See Weekly Summary of Outrages against the Police, Dec. 1920 (CO 904/148-50, TNA).

 

Republicans were apparently among the perpetrators of this attack. The police later reported that Tarrant (aged 19) had been a prominent Sinn Féiner and had previously been active in collecting funds for the republican cause. See RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork City and East Riding, Dec. 1920 (CO 904/113, TNA). Evidence given at the military inquest indicated that Tarrant, who was in training to become a creamery manager, was connected with the Volunteer movement. See Military Inquests, WO 35/159B/18 (TNA). This attempted robbery of the GPO in Cork soon assumed the appearance of a republican enterprise that came to be connected to the former Alexian lay brother Finbarr Darcy, who was killed by British forces on the night of 4-5 January 1921.

 

The only Patrick Tarrant resident in Cork city in 1911 was one of the five children of Nicholas Samuel Tarrant of 5 Spring View Terrace and his wife Bridget, who then had four sons and a daughter living with them. Nicholas Tarrant was then employed as a commercial agent for butter and machinery.


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