Volunteer Captain James R. (Jim) Barrett

 

Volunteer Captain James R. (Jim) Barrett (aged about 36) of Firmount near Donoughmore (wounded in abortive Dripsey ambush; died at Central Military Hospital, Cork)

Date of incident: 22 March 1921 (date of his death)

Sources: Death Certificate (Cork No. 1 Urban), 22 March 1921; CC, 31 Jan., 24 March 1921; CCE, 5 Feb. 1921; CE, 25 March 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/146A/19 (TNA); Florrie O’Donoghue, Record of Activities of 6th Battalion of Cork No. 1 Brigade (NLI); Daniel McCarthy’s WS 1457, 6-7 (BMH); Diarmuid O’Leary’s WS 1589, 9 (BMH); Michael Mullane’s WS 1689, 8-10 (BMH); Daniel McCarthy’s WS 1697, 13-14 (BMH); Roll of Honour, Cork No. 1 Brigade (Cork Public Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork); ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 142; Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 274, 357; http://www.tameside.gov.uk/museumsgalleries/mom/objectfocus/razor (17 Sept. 2015); www.irishwarmemorials.ie; http://irishvolunteers.org/cork-county-gaol-ira-volunteers-executed-memorial/ (accessed 3 Nov. 2015);

Dripsey Ambush Monument; Donoughmore Cemetery IRA Memorial; UCC IRA Memorial.

 

Note: A stationmaster by occupation, Barrett had been badly wounded in the abortive Dripsey ambush on 28 January 1921 and died of his injuries (gunshot wounds to the left thigh, followed by septicaemia) at Cork Military Hospital in Victoria Barracks on 22 March. In a vain effort to save his life, one of his legs had been amputated. He had served as adjutant of the Sixth Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade. His funeral from the Catholic cathedral in Cork city to Donoughmore on 24 March was subjected to the usual military harassment: ‘There was a party of military present in two lorries, accompanied by an armoured car, and the officer in charge informed the relatives that not more than 30 or 40 persons would be allowed to walk after the remains. When the cortege started, the military cars took up positions next to the mourners’ cars and accompanied the funeral on the journey to Donoughmore.’ See CE, 25 March 1921.

 

Despite his wounds, Jim Barrett had apparently received a severe beating while confined as a patient in Cork Military Hospital. Though the author of the following account—Volunteer Diarmuid O’Leary, one of the wounded Clonmult prisoners—misidentified Barrett with the Upton train ambush, there appears little doubt that the stationmaster Barrett was the victim of the vengeful assault described by O’Leary: ‘With me in the hospital ward were some other patients, one of whom I remember had been the stationmaster at Upton, Co. Cork. This man had fought with the I.R.A. in the Upton ambush on 19th February 1921 and had been wounded and taken prisoner. His bed was nearest the entrance door. One night, following an ambush in Cork city [on 28 February 1921] in which some soldiers were killed, a few military came into the room and proceeded to beat this man unmercifully with the butts of their revolvers. He died from the effects of the beating.’ See Diarmuid O’Leary’s WS 1589, 9 (BMH). It is unclear whether this beating contributed to Barrett’s death three weeks later.

 

James Barrett had been born at Killeen near Donoughmore. After attending Tullig National School, he became an employee of the Cork and Muskerry Railway Company. For nearly twenty years before his death, he had been quite well known as the stationmaster at Firmount. An enthusiast for the cause of the Gaelic League, he was also prominent as a sportsman with the GAA. He served as captain of the Aghabullogue Football Club and led them to victory in two Mid-Cork championships. He joined the Volunteers as early as 1914, when a local unit was established at Donoughmore. And he remained an active member of the Donoughmore Company and later of the Sixth Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade until he was severely wounded in the Dripsey ambush. Unmarried at the time of the 1911 census, Barrett (then aged 26) resided with his sister Eliza at Firmount. See www.irishwarmemorials.ie; http://irishvolunteers.org/cork-county-gaol-ira-volunteers-executed-memorial/ (accessed 3 Nov. 2015).


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