Civilian Maurice Fitzgerald (aged 38) of Kilbehenny (near Fermoy)
Date of incident: 29 Oct. 1921
Sources: Military Inquest (WO 35/150, TNA); Military Inquest (WO 35/163, TNA); II, 30 Oct. 1921; CE, 31 Oct., 8 Nov. 1921; FJ, 31 Oct. 1921; SS, 5 Nov. 1921; CWN, 12 Nov. 1921; https://theirishrevolution.ie/1920-155/ (accessed 1 April 2018); http://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/incidents/prendergast-murder/prendergast-murder.html (accessed 1 April 2018); http://theauxiliaries.com/INCIDENTS/prendergast-murder/prendergast-murder.html (accessed 1 April 2018).
Note: An unmarried labourer aged 38, Maurice Fitzgerald died at Fermoy District Hospital on 4 November 1921 after having been admitted on 29 October. The cause of death was given as laceration of the brain and other violence. No evidence was cited at the military inquest as to why the fatal violence had occurred. Fitzgerald had recently returned from America to his home at or near Kilbehenny. See Military Inquest (WO 35/150, TNA); Military Inquest (WO 35/163, TNA); CWN, 12 Nov. 1921.
On Friday night, 28 October 1921, ‘a number of soldiers came into conflict with civilians [in Fermoy], and although shots were heard and several persons roughly handled, nobody appears to have been seriously injured. The local police gave it as their opinion that the affair was “only a drunken brawl amongst the military”, and that no injured persons were at either the military barracks or [the] public hospital. Commandant George Power, I.R.A., late liaison officer for Waterford, Kilkenny, Wexford, and South Tipperary, made the following statement yesterday [30 October]:—“The conduct of the military here [in Fermoy] for the past month has become most aggressive. Amongst the rank and file it has broken out in acts of aggression towards civilians, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights [such as 28 and 29 October]. Last night [29 October] was the worst case of the kind. Previously, these assaults were regarded as isolated incidents, but last night’s occurrences seemed to be pre-arranged, as they started simultaneously in several parts of the town. Breaches of the Truce are not confined to the rank and file. A military intelligence officer on two occasions has inquired at the Royal Hotel for particulars of my movements, where I slept, what time I took my meals, whom I saw at my office, etc. This particular intelligence officer, with another officer, goes into the country parts regularly, and this week several staff officers, including some senior officers, went out in private motor cars, mapping, sketching, taking notes, etc. I consider these operations breaches of the Truce, and notwithstanding the frequent complaints that have been made, they are continued, and now even on a greater scale since the deadlock in the liaison arrangements.’ See CE, 31 Oct. 1921.
At the Fermoy quarter sessions held at the end of October 1921 the Recorder of Cork awarded £1,000 to the widow of Nicholas de Sales Prendergast, the deceased Fermoy hotel proprietor, for the murder of her husband by British forces (members of the Auxiliaries) on the night of 1-2 December 1920. See SS, 5 Nov. 1921; https://theirishrevolution.ie/1920-155/ (accessed 1 April 2018); http://www.cairogang.com/other-people/british/castle-intelligence/incidents/prendergast-murder/prendergast-murder.html (accessed 1 April 2018); http://theauxiliaries.com/INCIDENTS/prendergast-murder/prendergast-murder.html (accessed 1 April 2018). The publication of these court proceedings and the revisiting of this notorious murder, which cast the British military garrison in Fermoy in a very poor light, may have contributed to the military misconduct in Fermoy on 28 October and especially 29 October 1921. It also appears that the mortal injuries suffered by Maurice Fitzgerald on 29 October 1921 were the result of actions connected to this breach of the Truce by British officers and other ranks in Fermoy.
When admitted to the Fermoy District Hospital on 29 October 1921, Maurice Fitzgerald of Kilbehenny ‘was suffering from injuries to the head. It is stated that the deceased had some altercation with another man, in the course of which he was struck on the head. Dr Magnier and the nursing staff at the hospital did everything possible for [the] deceased, but to no avail, and he died on Friday night [4 November] about 9 o’clock. Further details are lacking, but it is probable that an inquest will be held. The remains were removed by the military to the [Fermoy] Military Hospital on Saturday evening [5 November].’ See CE, 8 Nov. 1921.