Volunteer Captain Frank (John Francis) Hurley


Volunteer Captain Frank (John Francis) Hurley (aged about 30) of Laragh near Bandon (Castle Bernard Park, Bandon)

Date of incident: 9 May 1921

Sources: CE, 11 May 1921; FJ, 11, 12 May 1921; IT, 11 May 1921; Irish Bulletin, 5:5 (7 June 1921); Anna Hurley-O’Mahony’s WS 540, 3 (BMH); Lieutenant-Colonel John M. McCarthy’s WS 883, Appendix, 11-12 (BMH); Charles O’Donoghue’s WS 1607, 7, 10 (BMH); Rebel Cork’s FS, 207; Deasy (1973), 272-73; Last Post (1976), 86; IRA Memorial Cross, bottom of Cork-Screw, Dunmanway Road, Bandon.


Note: A farmer’s son, Hurley lived at Laragh and was killed at Bandon. There was a general IRA plan to seize bicycles: ‘Hurley had gone with two local Volunteers to collect bicycles near Bandon. As the trio entered Scott’s yard, they ran into a patrol and were captured.’ Their captors ordered them to enter Castle Bernard Park when they reached it. These Volunteers no doubt recalled the fate of Volunteer John Connolly, who had been murdered there earlier by members of the Essex Regiment, and the fate of ‘others captured and shot nearby’. Hurley made ‘a gallant bid to escape by making a bolt into the nearby wood. In his dash for freedom Hurley was shot down, and his death deprived the brigade of a great and inspiring leader.’ See Deasy (1973), 272-73.


His sister Anna Hurley-O’Mahony told the Bureau of Military History: ‘[Frank Hurley] was killed on the 9th May 1921, being captured while in possession of a revolver. When crossing a small bridge in Castle Bernard Park, he made a run for it and might have got away had not one foot got caught in a rabbit hole and he stumbled and so lost his life, being shot down. The story of his end was told by another Volunteer captured at the same time, but unarmed. My brother would have been shot anyway, no doubt, following a drumhead court-martial, for having a gun.’ See Anna Hurley-O’Mahony’s WS 540, 3 (BMH).


A different interpretation was given by the author of a note in the Irish Bulletin, who asserted that British soldiers had assassinated Hurley at Bandon Military Barracks, and that they had then dumped his body in Castle Bernard Park. See Irish Bulletin, 5:5 (7 June 1921). In view of the two other corroborative accounts this claim is probably incorrect.


Volunteer Hurley was one of the eight children (nine born) of the Laragh (Kibrogan) farmer Daniel Hurley and his wife Julia. Only three of the children remained at home in 1911—John Francis (then aged about 20) and two of his unmarried sisters (aged 22 and 24 respectively). Volunteer Hurley, who appears to have been the youngest son, was buried in Kilbrogan Graveyard near Bandon.

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