IRA Soldier Fred Grant

 

IRA Soldier Fred Grant (aged 19) of 8 Hibernian Buildings, Cork (Drumlara, Blackrock, near Cork city)

Date of incident: 17 June 1922

Sources: Irish Times, 20 June 1922; CE, 21 June 1922; CWN, 24 June 1922; SS, 24 June 1922; CCE, 24 June 1922; IRA Company Rolls, MSPC/RO/29 (Military Archives); Keane (2017), 288, 415.

 

Note: The young labourer Fred Grant was mortally wounded in an affray at Drumlara in Blackrock near Cork city on Saturday, 17 June 1922. The lodge keeper, gardener, and watchman employed there—Timothy Kenny (aged 60)—was armed and had ordered six trespassers to leave, and when they refused, shots were fired. Grant, Kenny, and a third man named William Quirke were admitted to the South Infirmary in Cork city with bullet wounds. Fred Grant died there two or three days later (on 19 or 20 June). See Irish Times, 20 June 1922; CWN, 24 June 1922; SS, 24 June 1922; CCE, 24 June 1922. The inquest jury found that Grant had ‘died from laceration of the lung and internal haemorrhage due to bullet wounds, and . . . the jury wish to add a rider that robbery was not the motive, and we wish to convey to the deceased’s relatives our sincere sympathy on his untimely death’. See CE, 21 June 1922.

 

At the inquest Jeffery Grant Jr, a barman with an address at 8 Albert Terrace, identified the body as that of his brother Fred and stated that the victim had reached the age of 19 at his last birthday in January 1922. Another witness, Thomas Fitzgerald, a machinist at the Henry Ford and Sons car factory in Cork, testified that the shooting had occurred at about 8:30 or 9 p.m. on Saturday evening, 17 June 1922. Timothy Kenny, this witness asserted, ‘had his gun pointed at the young fellows when they were only a yard away. Freddy Grant said to him to put up his hands and he refused to do so. Grant repeated the challenge four or five times, and Mr Kenny pulled back the hammer of the gun, cocking it and at the same time walking back about three steps. Grant told him [to] put down the gun or he would fire. Grant had a revolver in his hand, and it was pointed at Kenny. Both of them fired together. Mr Kenny was swearing and cursing, and he said, “I’ll give it to you now, you b_______, and he fired at Grant, who was on his knees when the shot was fired. They both fired at each other, Kenny firing at Grant when the latter was falling on the ground. In [the] witness’s opinion Kenny was also hit but he wouldn’t swear it. Kenny came over and stood over Grant, and after the latter was a few seconds on the ground, Kenny said he was hit. There were five or six shots altogether, but nobody else fired as there were no other firearms. Witness told Billy Quirke to get into cover in the bushes, but before he got there, Kenny fired two shots at him. Kenny then picked up the shotgun and ran towards the cottage. Mr [R. H.] Tilson came over the wall and asked was anybody hurt, and witness asked him to telephone to Union Quay Barracks. Mr Tilson refused him the telephone. Witness asked him a second time but he again refused. Witness told him that there were men shot. Witness stayed with Grant for about five minutes and gave him some water. Witness then went to Blackrock Road and telephoned Union Quay. [Jim] Moore went for a priest and [Jim] Donovan for a doctor. It was about a quarter of an hour after that he learned that Quirke was wounded and he was taken in a motor car to the city. Dr Buckley came and attended the deceased, and a priest was also there. Grant was subsequently conveyed to the South Infirmary.’ See CE, 21 June 1921.

 

The same witness Thomas Fitzgerald also asserted, in response to a question from the coroner, that ‘the reason they went there [to Drumlara] was because [on] the previous night [16 June 1922] Tom Moore and Tim Healy had told them that when they were walking along Daly’s field with a dog looking for rabbits, Kenny stepped out from behind a tree and asked them what was their business there. Moore told him they were looking for rabbits, and Kenny answered that that was a lie, that they were a lot of robbers. He [Kenny] pointed the gun at Moore.’ Thomas Fitzgerald admitted to the inquest jury that he was a Volunteer; he maintained that he had sent his brother Edward Fitzgerald and Jim Donovan into the field as a test: ‘I thought the gardener [Kenny] would not fire on young fellows, and these boys were the younger of the six of us. [Thomas Fitzgerald] and the others remained in the same field they first entered. The next thing was that two shots rang out. They were fired from a little wooden hut standing in the corner of Mr Green’s garden. . . . About two minutes after the shots were fired, I saw Mr Kenny walk from the hut. . . . Jim Donovan said to Mr Kenny he had better stop firing or he would get into trouble. He had Donovan and [Edward] Fitzgerald covered with a shotgun, and he ordered them up the field in front of him.’ In response Thomas Fitzgerald told Quirke, Moore, and Fred Grant ‘to get ahead of Mr Kenny, to take the gun from him, so that he wouldn’t shoot the young fellows’. But only minutes later the fatal confrontation took place between old Timothy Kenny and young Fred Grant. See CE, 21 June 1921.

 

It seems that a few IRA men and a few Na Fianna Éireann boys had conceived a plan to get Kenny in trouble with the Irish Republican Police at Union Quay Barracks for firing a gun in unauthorised fashion. As Volunteer Thomas Fitzgerald told the inquest jury, he had gone down to Drumlara in Blackrock ‘for the purpose of seeing if Kenny would fire on the young fellows so that he [Fitzgerald] could report to Union Quay Barrack[s] that he [Kenny] had a gun’. See CE, 21 June 1921. The plan miscarried disastrously.

 

The name of Frederick Grant (with an address at 8 Hibernian Buildings in Cork) appears on the IRA company rolls as of 11 July 1921; he was listed as a Volunteer in C Company of the First Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade. See IRA Company Rolls, MSPC/RO/29 (Military Archives).

 

Fred Grant was an anti-Treaty member of Na Fianna Éireann and then of the Volunteers; he was part of a group accustomed to hunting rabbits in certain fields who was shot at the rear of the Blackrock premises of Dominic Daly by his watchman Timothy Kenny, whom Grant had allegedly threatened with action from the IRA. A leading witness in the case was R. H. Tilson, J.P.; his brother George Tilson had committed suicide in the previous year after having received a threatening letter from the IRA on account of his alleged spying for British forces. R. H. Tilson asserted that in spite to Grant’s having threatened Kenny, no excuse existed for Kenny’s shooting of Grant. See Keane (2017), 288, 415.

 

Fred Grant was in 1911 one of the four living children (seven born) of the merchant sailor Jeffery Grant and his wife Lilly. These four children (two daughters and two sons), ranging in age from 6 to 13, co-resided with their parents in that year at 8 Hibernian Buildings in Cork city. Fred Grant (then aged 8) was their third living child and the older of their two sons.     

 


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