RIC Constable Thomas King


RIC Constable Thomas King (aged 26) from Roundstone, Co. Galway (Snave Bridge/Glengarriff)

Date of incident: 12 June 1920

Sources: CE, 14, 15 June 1920; CWN, 19 June 1920; II, 14, 28 June, 18 Oct. 1920; Michael O’Driscoll’s WS 1297, 1 (BMH); Ted O’Sullivan’s WS 1478, 16 (BMH); Seán Cotter’s WS 1493, 10 (BMH); John J. O’Sullivan’s WS 1578, 10 (BMH); Hart (1998), 73; Abbott (2000), 88; irishmedals.org (accessed 28 July 2014).


Note: A British navy veteran, King had been stationed at Glengarriff only since February 1920 when four months later he was shot near Snave Bridge, a lonely part of the main road between Glengarriff and Bantry, to which he had cycled when given a few hours of leave. He was returning in civilian clothes and unarmed to Glengarriff on his bicycle when he was ambushed at about 6 p.m. on 12 June at Snave Bridge. Though wounded by a bullet lodged in his spine, King escaped to a nearby farm, where he tried to hide in a wardrobe in the house of a small farmer named Murphy after pleading, ‘Hide me, hide me!’ Murphy’s brother-in-law told him to conceal himself in the wardrobe, but his IRA pursuers closely searched both the outhouses and the dwelling house until they found him. He was then executed in the farmyard, and his body thrown on a dung heap. It was later found to have as many as ten different wounds. King was a Catholic and had reportedly gone to Confession in Bantry shortly before he died. According to Peter Hart, King was the first Black and Tan to be killed in County Cork.


Former Volunteer Michael O’Driscoll of the Coomhoola Company (Fifth Battalion, Cork No. 3 Brigade) recalled the circumstances of this deadly incident and explained why it was judged essential to kill Constable King: ‘I was one of a party under Ted Sullivan [Tadhg O’Sullivan] who were in ambush on the Bantry-Glengarriff road at Anagashel, which is about half-way. We expected an R.I.C. patrol but they did not show up. We received information that one R.I.C. man had gone into Bantry in civvies, and we waited for him to return. When he came along, we held him up and took him off the road and brought him behind a rock into cover from the road. One of our party appeared to mistake an order from Ted Sullivan, and the R.I.C. man was fired on. He was wounded and made to get away, taking refuge in a farmhouse. The R.I.C. man had seen our party. We were unmasked, and we found it necessary to finish him.’ See Michael O’Driscoll’s WS 1297, 1 (BMH).


As members of the IRA party who had participated in the killing of Constable King, Ted O’Sullivan, O/C of the Bantry Battalion, later named himself, Michael O’Driscoll, Dan O’Mahoney, Denis O’Sullivan, John J. O’Sullivan, and John Wrynne. Mentioned as the leading motive for the killing of King was his reputed involvement in the murder of IRA men named Dwyer at The Ragg in County Tipperary. See Ted O’Sullivan’s WS 1478, 16 (BMH). King had been a member of the RIC for only eight months when he was killed; he had previously been a stoker in the Royal Navy.

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