Civilian Thomas O’Keeffe or O’Keefe


Civilian Thomas O’Keeffe or O’Keefe (aged 23) of 8 Corporation Buildings, Cork city (Ballyvolane or Goulding’s Glen, Cork city)

Date of incident: 9 June 1921

Sources: CE, 10, 15 June 1921; FJ, 10, 15 June 1921; CC, 11 June 1921; CWN, 18 June 1921; Military Inquests, WO 35/157A/20 (TNA); Borgonovo (2007), 165.


Note: O’Keeffe and a young friend were resting in a field at Ballyvolane near Cork Military Barracks when two soldiers approached and told them to leave. ‘Shortly after they had done so, a rifle was discharged and young O’Keeffe fell. A bullet struck him in the hand, entered his body near the hip, and passed right through.’ Medical assistance was unavailing and he quickly died. See CE, 10 June 1921.


His father publicly denied that his deceased son had been connected with Sinn Féin or any other illegal organisation. At a subsequent military inquest the testimony of the civilian with O’Keeffe indicated that a British soldier likely shot and killed O’Keeffe at Goulding’s Glen. Colonel Commandant Higgenson thought that the evidence threw suspicion on members of a military piquet of the South Staffordshire Regiment, but the leader of the piquet claimed that he had checked the ammunition supply of his men upon their return to barracks and that no rifles had been fired. See Military Inquests, WO 35/157A/20 (TNA). Members of the 2nd Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment serving in Cork city and county since 1919 had acquired a well-earned reputation for lawless and at times savage behaviour.


Thomas O’Keeffe was in 1911 one of the six living children (eight born) of William O’Keeffe and his wife Annie of 8 Corporation Buildings in Cork city. These six children (four sons and two daughters), ranging in age from under one year to 13 years, all co-resided with them in 1911. Thomas O’Keeffe (then aged 13) was the oldest child. His father William was employed as a machine worker in a newspaper office.      

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