Cork Spy Files: Civilian Patrick Toomey

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6. Civilian Patrick Toomey (or Twomey)

Age unknown (Macroom)
Place of Death: Macroom
Date of incident: Sept.-Dec. 1920 [?]

In his diary the Macroom-based RIC Auxiliary Lieutenant Raymond Oswald Cafferata discussed the case of a cattle drover named Patrick Toomey (or Twomey) who had been shot dead in the town of Macroom as a suspected informer.


In Cafferata’s telling, Paddy Toomey was not only the town drunk but was also ‘a bit simple in the head, so we used to pick him up and take him to his bit of a one roomed cottage and wrap him up in a few old blankets he had and leave him to sober up. We often gave him a few bob hoping he’d buy a bit of food with it or something for his chest and lungs, which were in a dreadful state. This bit of kindness led to the rumour getting round the village that we were giving Paddy money in exchange for information as to the I.R.A. Paddy couldn’t have given information on anything, let alone the I.R.A. . . . But rumour is a dangerous thing, however, however founded, and one night one of our curfew patrols heard a couple of shots and on investigation found Paddy up a dark alley face downwards with a couple of Colt .45 Automatic bullets through him. On him was pinned a small note with one word on it, “Informer”! This was the first time that any of us really realised that we were in the middle of a serious business. Poor Paddy was just a harmless old cattle drover, and here he was shot to ribbons on suspicion only.’1


Civilian Patrick Twomey


This passage in the undated Cafferata diary stands in agreement with a note in one of the Ernie O’Malley Notebooks recording an interview with Daniel Corkery, O/C of the Macroom Battalion. Corkery recalled for O’Malley that two spies had been shot in the area, one of whom ‘was a half fool who wanted to be in with the other crowd’.2



Since C Company of the Auxiliaries, to which Cafferata belonged, came to Macroom in the summer of 1920 and departed shortly after the famous Kilmichael ambush of 28 November 1920, taking the diarist Cafferata with them, we have a rough date for the killing of Toomey as sometime between September and December 1920.


In all likelihood Twomey was Catholic. Twomey’s death was not reported in any newspaper. All searches, at least, have been in vain. Nor was there a military inquest. The entry must therefore be treated with some caution.


1. See The Auxiliaries – Cafferata Diary (accessed 27 April 2016).^
2. See Interview with Daniel Corkery, Ernie O’Malley Notebooks, P17b/111 (UCDA).^
Sources: Interview with Daniel Corkery, O/C, Macroom Battalion, Ernie O’Malley Notebooks, P17b/111 (UCDA); Brown (2007), 39; Brady (2010), 170-84; (accessed 27 April 2016).

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