Civilian Thomas Fitzgerald

 

Civilian Thomas Fitzgerald (aged about 31) of Ballyshehan near Mallow (near Killavullen, about 6 miles east of Mallow)

Date of incident: 28 May 1921 (killed as suspected spy by IRA)

Sources: FJ, 30 May 1921; CE, 31 May, 17 June 1921; CCE, 4 June 19021; II, 7 Oct. 1921; RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork City and East Riding, May 1921 (CO 904/115, TNA); Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA); Thomas Barry’s WS 430, 27, 33 (BMH).

 

Note: A railway gatekeeper, Thomas Fitzgerald and his brother Henry were killed as spies by the IRA, according to Irish Chief Secretary Sir Hamar Greenwood speaking in the House of Commons: ‘Before his death Henry Fitzgerald stated that he and his brother were called out at one a.m. by eight or nine men armed with revolvers and told they were to do their share in cutting some trenches. When some distance away from their home, they were told they were spies and were ordered to halt and face the ditch. Their hands were tied behind them, and the murderers then fired into their backs.’ See CE, 17 June 1921. Fitzgerald was the gatekeeper at a level crossing of the Great Southern and Western Railway at Ballyshehan between Mallow and Killavullen. In this incident on 28 May 1921 Thomas Fitzgerald was killed outright. Thomas and Henry Fitzgerald appear to have been the suspected informers mentioned in his BMH witness statement by Thomas Barry (O/C, Castletownroche Battalion) when he called attention to ‘two spies executed near Kilavullen [sic], suspected of informing on Tom Hunter. He was lucky to escape when the raid took place [in May 1921].’ Hunter was a member of the Castletownroche Volunteer Company. See Thomas Barry’s WS 430, 27, 33 (BMH).

 

The Recorder of Cork, sitting at Mallow in October 1921, awarded £1,000 to Mrs Anne Fitzgerald, the widow of Thomas Fitzgerald, a gatekeeper on the Great Southern and Western Railway between Mallow and Killavullen, ‘who with his brother Henry, a demobilised soldier, was taken out and shot dead on the night of 28 May [1921]’. In addition, the Recorder granted £600 to each of the widow’s three chidren and £350 to the mother of the two executed men. Shortly before his death, said a solicitor for the plaintiff to the Recorder, ‘the government gave Henry [Fitzgerald] £75 to buy a horse and car, and that might be the cause of his death’. See II, 7 Oct. 1921. The IRA, if it knew about this payment, might well have regarded it as one given for informing on the Volunteers. The name of Thomas Fitzgerald appears in the Compensation Commission Register under 28 May 1921, with the notation that British liability was accepted, and with a note that £2,800 was awarded. See Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA).

 

In reporting the IRA’s killing of Thomas Fitzgerald and fatal wounding of his brother Henry as suspected spies, the RIC concluded, ‘So far no light can be thrown on the affair.’ This comment implies that the two brothers had not been passing information to the police at least. See RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, Cork City and East Riding, May 1921 (CO 904/115, TNA). 

 

Thomas Fitzgerald and his brother Henry were two of the eight children of the railway gateman Edmund Fitzgerald (aged 76 in 1911) and his wife Bridget (aged 55) of Lissanisky (Carrig) in the Mallow district. Only two of the eight children still co-resided with their parents in 1911; one of them was Thomas (then aged 21). His brother Henry was living elsewhere. The Fitzgeralds were Catholic.   

 


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