Civilian David Fitzgibbon

 

Civilian David Fitzgibbon (aged about 45) of Liscarroll (Killinane crossroads near Liscarroll)

Date of incident: 6 June 1921 (killed as suspected spy by IRA)

Sources: CE, 13 June 1921; CCE, 18 June 1921; CWN, 9 July 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/150/30 and WO 35/163 (TNA); RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, West Riding, June 1921 (CO 904/115, 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); Hart (1998), 299; Ó Ruairc (2016), 122.

 

Note: A shoemaker, Fitzgibbon was abducted from his Liscarroll workplace by a party of armed and masked men on 6 June 1921 and later executed by the IRA. His body was found on 9 June near Killinane crossroads, about a half-mile outside Liscarroll. ‘On the body was pinned a card bearing the words, “Shot by the I.R.A. Spies beware. This body is not to be moved.”’ Nevertheless, the reporter for the Cork Examiner remarked without much sense, ‘No clue or motive has been discovered for the tragedy.’ See CE, 13 June 1921. At a military inquest held on 14 June it was revealed that Fitzgibbon had been shot on 6 June, and that his body had been taken by neighbours and buried the next day in the churchyard at Liscarroll. On 10 June the police went to Liscarroll (where the military were also making inquiries), and the body was exhumed on 14 June so that a medical investigation could be carried out. This showed two bullet wounds—one through the right temple and another through the centre of the right cheek. See Military Inquests, WO 35/150/30 (TNA).

 

The police report on the incident acknowledged that Fitzgibbon had been suspected of giving information to the RIC. See RIC County Inspector’s Monthly Report, West Riding, June 1921 (CO 904/115, TNA). But at the military inquest Lieutenant F. C. Sherwood, intelligence officer for the Kerry Brigade of the British army, advanced the view that David Fitzgibbon was the only member of the family who had nothing to do with the IRA, and that the label placed on his dead body was engineered propaganda, as he had never been a spy. ‘It is a favourite thing for the I.R.A. at present to murder innocent people’, declared Sherwood, ‘so as to advertise their intelligence. This is done to cover their inability to locate spies.’ See Military Inquests, WO 35/150/30 (TNA).

 

Suggesting a different view was the presence of the victim’s sister-in-law Bridget Tucker, who resided with David Fitzgibbon at the time of the 1911 census, on the ‘suspect list’ of the 1st Southern Division of the IRA. 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). But Peter Hart was probably correct to give greater weight to the testimony furnished by the aforementioned British military officer who insisted at the inquest that David Fitzgibbon had not been an informer. See Hart (1998), 299.

 

The name of David Fitzgibbon appears in the Compensation Commission Register under 9 June 1921, with the issue of liability left unstated, and with a note that £2,000 was awarded. See Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA). In 1911 the bootmaker and shoemaker David Fitzgibbon (then aged 35) had lived with his wife Hannah, two very young children (aged 2 and 1), his mother-in-law Ellen Tucker, and three of his wife’s younger sisters (aged 18, 20, and 21) in a small house with only three rooms in Liscarroll. By the time of his death in June 1921 David Fitzgibbon was a widower with five young children. The Fitzgibbons and the Tuckers were all Catholics.  


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