Civilian Maurice Cusack (aged about 41) of Ballycottin (now called Ballycotton)
Date of incident: 3 July 1921
Sources: CE, 5 July 1921; CC, 5 July 1921; FJ, 5 July 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/148/21 (TNA); Application of Bridget Sliney to Irish Grants Committee (CO 762/21/6); Edmond O’Brien’s WS 623, 3 (BMH); Rebel Cork’s FS, 196-97; Last Post (1976), 90; ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 150; Midleton IRA Memorial, Main Street, Midleton.
Note: Crown forces entered the seaside village of Ballycotton on the evening of 3 July 1921 and fired shots from one of their military lorries. Cusack, a British navy veteran, who was resting in a field near his house, was shot in the stomach and died shortly afterward. See CE, 5 July 1921; CC, 5 July 1921.
According to a second and slightly different (British) account, members of the Cameron Highlanders shot Cusack because they mistook him for a ‘Sinn Feiner’ who had been signaling to others and because he had refused to obey an order to halt. His father denied at a subsequent military court of inquiry that his son had been signaling to anyone or that he had refused to halt. See Military Inquests, WO 35/148/21 (TNA).
Yet a third (republican) account stated that on Sunday, 3 July 1921, Midleton-area Volunteers set off a road-mine explosion at Carrigshane Cross (North Churchtown) on the Youghal road, a little over a mile from Midleton, ‘after which many British soldiers were reported seriously wounded. As a reprisal, the enraged British forces descended on the seaside village of Ballycotton, eight miles from the scene of the explosion, and shot two men, R. Cusack and J. Whelan. Cusack died from his wounds.’ See Rebel Cork’s FS, 196-97.
The British army reported a mine attack on a party of Cameron Highlanders in that area; the attack was said to have resulted in the wounding of a non-commissioned officer. See ‘The Irish Rebellion in the 6th Division Area’, Irish Sword, 27 (Spring 2010), 150. Cusack’s name appears on an IRA ‘Roll of Honour’, but he was a civilian unlikely to have been even sympathetic to the IRA. Whelan was allegedly a Volunteer fatality in the same incident according to the Last Post, but it seems certain that he was only wounded, though seriously. See Last Post (1976), 90.
Volunteer Edmond O’Brien of the Shanagarry Volunteer Company later reported that on an undated Sunday in 1921 a party of Black and Tans, furious about being delayed by an IRA roadblock, ‘started shooting indiscriminately’ as they were entering Ballycotton. One man, O’Brien recalled, ‘was shot dead—Maurice Cusack, a naval pensioner’. A second man named Michael Whelan ‘was seriously wounded’. See Edmond O’Brien’s WS 623, 3 (BMH).
The claim that Cusack was a Volunteer is contradicted by strong evidence from a close family member. According to his sister Mrs Bridget Sliney, who applied in October 1926 to the Irish Grants Committee for compensation in regard to her brother Maurice’s death, ‘My brother, my father, my husband (since dead), and myself were always upholders of the English government. During the war, when my husband, my brother, and my nephew were away fighting, I had a dog’s life from the Sinn Feiners. My nephew is an imbecile after the Battle of Loos, where he lost a leg. My husband didn’t get a day’s health since he was demobilised from the Royal Naval Reserve. He died last May . He left me with five children.’ See Application of Bridget Sliney to Irish Grants Committee (CO 762/21/6), 27 Oct. 1926.
She and her brother Maurice were two of the nine children of the Ballycotton agricultural labourer John Cusack and his wife Mary (both aged 65 in 1911). In that year only their daughter Bridget Sliney, her husband, and two grandchildren were co-resident with the elderly Cusacks. Their son Maurice Cusack was buried at Churchtown near Midleton in July 1921.