Volunteer Tadhg or Timothy Sullivan or O’Sullivan


Volunteer Tadhg or Timothy Sullivan or O’Sullivan (aged 28 or 29) of Annagh Beg, Rathmore, Co. Kerry (82 Douglas Street, Cork city)

Date of incident: 19 April 1921

Sources: CC, 20 April 1921; II, 20, 21 April 1921; CE, 21, 22, 23 April 1921; FJ, 20, 21, 22, 25, 30 April 1921; CCE, 23 April 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/157A/49 (TNA); MSPC/RO/29 and MSPC/FE/5 (Military Archives); Michael Murphy’s WS 1547, 41 (BMH); George Hurley’s WS 1630, 1 (BMH); Roll of Honour, Cork No. 1 Brigade (Cork Public Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork); Rebel Cork’s FS, 25; Last Post (1976), 85; Ó hÉalaithe (2014), 208-9; Volunteer Tadhg O’Sullivan Memorial, 82 Douglas Street, Cork.


Note: A Kerry native living in Cork city, O’Sullivan was shot dead in Douglas Street while running away from British military and police intelligence officers patrolling in civilian dress and ‘searching for certain wanted men’. See CE, 22 April 1921. He was the captain of C Company of Second Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade. He had been employed at Ford’s Motor Works in Cork city and had participated in the republican hunger-strike in Belfast in 1920. He had been arrested in ‘the big round up at Cork Union [Workhouse] some months ago but was released’. See II, 21 April 1921.


His close friend and comrade Michael Murphy, O/C of the Second Battalion, provided a graphic account of O’Sullivan’s last moments in his BMH witness statement: On 19 April 1921 ‘one of my best company captains named Tadhg Sullivan was held up in Douglas St by two British intelligence officers in mufti. He made a dash to escape and got into a house—No. 80 [recte 82] Douglas St. He ran upstairs and got out on the roof through a landing window, closely followed by the two British officers. Sullivan got on to the roof of the adjoining house when the offcers appeared at the landing window and shot him dead. He was unarmed.’ See Michael Murphy’s WS 1547, 41 (BMH).


For a time O’Sullivan had been the head of the Fianna Éireann in Cork city; this was the nationalist youth organisation linked to the Volunteers. This body had swelled to about two hundred members in the city at the time of the conscription crisis in mid-1918. Its headquarters was initially located in An Grianán in Queen Street (the Gaelic League headquarters too) and later (until 1919) in premises in South Main Street, also used by the Volunteers as a meeting place. McGurk’s in North Main Street served as its headquarters from 1920 to the Truce. See George Hurley’s WS 1630, 1 (BMH).


Volunteer O’Sullivan’s funeral drew the close attention of British military headquarters in Cork and attracted huge crowds, as shown by contemporary photographs and newspaper reports: ‘The funeral of Mr Tadg O’Sullivan took place yesterday afternoon [22 April 1921] at 3 o’clock from St Finbarr’s Church to the New Cemetery, where they [his remains] were interred in the Republican Plot. The cortege was limited in extent by order of the military, and armed soldiers walking on foot at both sides of the hearse, in lorries, and accompanied by an armoured car, were present to see that this order . . . was obeyed. The streets from the church, over Parliament Bridge, along the South Mall, Grand Parade, and Washington Street, were lined with people. The coffin was draped in the tricolour flag. Private carriages headed the impressive procession. Then came a number of clergy [at least seventeen were present], followed by the hearse, after which walked the chief mourners and general public, including representatives of public boards and national organisations.’ At the Solemn High Requiem Mass on the previous day, the ceremonies had been equally impressive. See CE, 23 April 1921. Volunteer O’Sullivan was survived by at least four brothers and five sisters, all of whom attended the funeral along with his parents. A report in the Last Post that O’Sullivan was buried in Rathmore, Co. Kerry, is incorrect.  

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