Civilian Christopher William O’Sullivan

 

Civilian Christopher William O’Sullivan (aged 22) of 132 Blarney Street, Cork city (Model Farm Road near Dennehy’s Cross, Cork)

Date of incident: 26 May 1921 (ex-soldier kidnapped and killed as suspected spy by IRA)

Sources: Death Certificate, 27 May 1921; CE, 28, 30 May, 1 June 1921; CWN, 4 June 1921; RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork City and East Riding, May 1921 (CO 904/115, TNA); Military Inquests, WO 35/163 (TNA); ‘IRA Intelligence Reports on Civilians Accused of Giving Information to and Associating with British Forces during War of Independence in Counties Cork, Kerry, Waterford, and Limerick’, ca. 1921, CP/4/40 (Military Archives); Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA); Laurence Neville’s WS 1639, 12-13 (BMH); Hart (1998), 295; Borgonovo (2007), 65, 68, 77, 100; Murphy (2010), 41; Ó Ruairc (2016), 121.

 

Note: A Catholic ex-soldier aged 22, O’Sullivan was kidnapped from his house by ‘two strong, tall, young men. He was dragged down River Lane, put into a motor car, and driven off.’ See CE, 1 June 1921. He was shot dead in a field adjoining the Model Farm Road near Dennehy’s Cross on 26 May 1921. The doctor at the inquest reported finding bullet wounds in the left ear and the forehead. A note or document found on the body stated, ‘Dear [wife], I am going to my God.’ Buried in St Joseph’s Cemetery in Cork city after a funeral Mass in St Patrick’s Church, he left behind ‘broken-hearted parents, wife, brothers, and sisters’. He was one of the sons of Daniel and Kate O’Sullivan. See CE, 30 May 1921. He had worked as a motor mechanic in Victoria Barracks but had lost that job some six weeks earlier. Borgonovo lists him as one of the numerous ex-soldiers and Victoria Barracks employees whom the IRA considered as spies and executed. See Laurence Neville’s WS 1639, 12-13 (BMH). O’Sullivan was described as a loyalist in the inquest evidence. See Military Inquests, WO 35/163 (TNA).

 

In an important document the IRA asserted that O’Sullivan had named John Rogers as a suspected spy. Rogers was an Englishman and former British navy officer whose shop on the North Mall in Cork city was reportedly frequented by ‘Black and Tans’ from the nearby Abbey Street Barracks. It was claimed that ‘when Christy Sullivan of Blarney St was about to be executed during the war, he gave Rogers away and said he was a spy’. These statements could be taken to mean that O’Sullivan had indeed been acting as an informer and knew of at least one other spy. See ‘IRA Intelligence Reports on Civilians Accused of Giving Information to and Associating with British Forces during War of Independence in Counties Cork, Kerry, Waterford, and Limerick’, ca. 1921, CP/4/40 (Military Archives).  

 

The name of Christopher O’Sullivan appears in the Compensation Commission Register under 27 May 1921, with the notation that British liability was accepted, and with a note that £1,850 in compensation was awarded. See Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA). Christopher O’Sullivan was Catholic. 

 


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