Civilian Seán or John O’Callaghan Jr

 

Civilian Seán or John O’Callaghan Jr (aged about 27) of 13 Picketts Lane, Bandon Road, Cork (Farmers Cross, south of Cork city)

Date of incident: 15 Sept. 1920 (abducted, executed, and disappeared as suspected spy by IRA)

Sources: British Casualties (A/0438, Military Archives); Executions by IRA in 1920 (A/0535, Military Archives); Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA); Interview with Connie Neenan, Ernie O’Malley Notebooks, P17b/112 (UCDA); Jeremiah Keating’s WS 1657, 5-6 (BMH); Patrick Collins’s WS 1707, 9 (BMH); Borgonovo (2007), 51, 76, 100 (note 71), 165, 168, 169-70, 174, 179; Murphy (2010), 41; Ó Ruairc (2016), 119.

 

Note: A civilian clerk in Victoria Barracks, O’Callaghan was overheard in mid-September 1920 talking by telephone and giving information about the IRA to Captain Campbell Kelly, the intelligence officer of the British Sixth Division based at the barracks. A young woman working in the local telephone exchange heard their conversation and quickly alerted the IRA, whose members reportedly shot O’Callaghan dead later the same day. See Interview with Connie Neenan, Ernie O’Malley Notebooks, P17b/112 (UCDA). Seán Hegarty, vice-commandant of the Cork No. 1 Brigade, gave the order for the execution of O’Callaghan, which was carried out by Volunteers Jeremiah Keating, Patrick Collins, and John O’Connell. They took him ‘to the Thomas Ashe Hall on Father Mathew Quay, where he was detained until about three o’clock in the afternoon. When we were bringing him out to a car outside the door of the hall, he made a bid to escape but was chased and tripped up by one of our lads. We then got him into the car and took him out the country to the Farmers Cross district, where he was shot and his body buried.’ See Jeremiah Keating’s WS 1657, 5-6 (BMH).

 

O’Callaghan appears on a list of twenty-six civilians killed by the Cork city IRA in 1920-21. His name is given in the Compensation Commission Register under 17 September 1920, with the notation that British liability was accepted, and with a note that £950 in compensation was awarded. See Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA). John O’Callaghan Jr was in 1911 one of the four living children (five born) of the Cork city groom John O’Callaghan Sr and his wife Mary of 13 Picketts Lane. These children (a daughter and three sons) were all co-resident with their parents in that year. John O’Callaghan Jr (then aged 17) listed his occupation as ‘machine boy’ for the census-taker. The O’Callaghans were Catholic.

 


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