Civilian Hannah O’Connell

 

Civilian Hannah O’Connell (aged 23) of Main Street, Mallow (Mallow)

Date of incident: night of 28-29 Sept. 1920

Sources: CE, 30 Sept., 2, 4 Oct. 1920; Death Certificate, 15 Oct. 1920 (Mallow District, Union of Mallow); Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15); American Commission on Conditions in Ireland, Evidence of Conditions, 917-18; O’Malley (1936, 1979), 195; Lankford (1980), 173; Donnelly (2010), 185.

 

Note: During the sacking of Mallow by British forces (in retaliation for a successful IRA arms raid on the military barracks there), a young woman identified by the surname Connolly spent the night cowering with other terrified inhabitants in the ‘Mallow Graveyard’, and holding her three-day-old infant Rosanna, as much of the town burned. This young mother reportedly caught pneumonia and died shortly afterwards. See American Commission on Conditions in Ireland, Evidence of Conditions, 917-18; Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15).

 

Several newspaper accounts added significant details. The Cork Examiner of 30 September 1920 reported that on the night of the sacking of Mallow a party of thirty or forty persons had spent those hours in the Catholic graveyard at the rear of St Mary’s church, including a mother and her seven-month-old baby along with another woman who sat through her weary vigil on her family’s grave. A Mallow priest whose sermon was reported in the Cork Examiner of 4 October, referring to this group in the cemetery, noted the presence of mothers with infants at their breasts seated on family graves as if the dead could help them. It seems likely that the victim named as ‘Connolly’ was Hannah O’Connell (aged 23), the wife of railway employee and locomotive fireman Christopher O’Connell and a resident of 31 Main Street, Mallow, who died on 15 October 1920 of rheumatic fever and endocarditis. Her funeral occurred at St Mary’s Church in Mallow two days later, followed by burial in St Joseph’s Cemetery. See Death Certificate, 15 Oct. 1920 (Mallow District, Union of Mallow).

 

In her book The Hope and the Sadness, Siobhan Lankford suggests that a woman took her baby to the Mallow Graveyard during the sacking of the town by British soldiers, and that the baby died a few days later from exposure. See Lankford (1980), 173. But it has proved impossible to trace this death.


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