Civilian David Nagle


Civilian David Nagle of Waterfall near Cork city (near Allen’s Grove, Clashanure, Ovens)

Date of incident: 12 March 1921 (abducted, executed, and disappeared as suspected spy by IRA)

Sources: Letter from HQ First Southern Division, 3 March 1921; IRA Executions in 1921 (Collins Papers, A/0649, Military Archives); Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA); Patrick Cronin’s WS 710, 1-2 (BMH); WS 810 of Timothy Herlihy et al., 31 (BMH); Michael O’Regan’s WS 1524, 5 (BMH); Borgonovo (2007), 169-70; Murphy (2010), 41; Ó Ruairc (2016), 120; White and O’Shea (2010) 380. 


Note: An ex-RIC constable and a rural postman, Nagle was ‘arrested’ by the IRA on 12 March 1921, charged with espionage, promptly tried, and executed on the following day. See Letter to Mary Nagle (his wife), 8 Feb. 1922, IRA Executions in 1921 (Collins Papers, A/0649, Military Archives). The background to the killing of Nagle and another suspected spy was detailed in the following BMH witness statement by eight members of the Third Battalion (Ballincollig) of the Cork No. 1 Brigade: ‘About the end of the summer 1920 a raid for mails was made at Waterfall which resulted in the capture of a letter from Nagle, a local postman, to a man by the name of O’Sullivan, an ex-British soldier. They arrested Nagle, who gave all information, also a photo of O’Sullivan and details of the place in Cork city where he was to meet with him. Leo [Murphy, O/C Third Battalion] and some others went there instead of Nagle and shot him dead. Later Nagle was also tried and also shot. Nagle had been in the R.I.C. and actually had a brother still in the force and stationed at Tuckey Street Barracks in Cork city.’ [His name was John Nagle.] See WS 810 of Timothy Herlihy et al., 31 (BMH). According to John Desmond of Bandon, Nagle was secretly buried in Allen’s Grove, Clashanure, Ovens. In local memory Nagle dug his own grave (information provided by Timothy O’Sullivan of Clashanure, as recalled by his father).


The name of David Nagle appears in the Compensation Commission Register under 12 March 1921, with the notation that British liability was accepted, and with a note that compensation of £1,400 was awarded. See Register of Compensation Commission (Ireland) Cases of Private Persons (CO 905/15, TNA).  David Nagle’s son, Gunner Thomas Nagle, Royal Field Artillery, was killed in France during 1917.  See White and O’Shea (2010), 380.  The Nagles were Catholic.  

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