Civilian Thomas Henry Hornibrook Sr (aged about 78) of Ballygroman House near Killumney/Ovens (probably near Newcestown)
Date of incident: 26 April 1922 (executed by IRA and disappeared)
Sources: CE, 28 April 1922; CCE, 6 May 1922; Irish Times, 14 April 1923; II, 3 Sept. 2006; Criminal Injuries Book, Cork East Riding, 1920-22 (Claim ID 37/163, 165, 167, NAI); Malicious Injury Claims, Ballincollig, Cork County Secretary Files, Box 16, Item 2 (Cork City and County Archives); Application of Edward Woods to Irish Grants Committee, 31 Jan. 1927 (CO 762/133/4, TNA); Application of Matilda Warmington Woods to Irish Grants Committee, 31 Jan. 1927 (CO 762/133/5, TNA); Application of Matilda Warmington Woods to Irish Grants Committee (undated separate application), received 4 March 1927 (CO 762/133/5, TNA); Witness Statement 810 of Tim Herlihy et al., 4 (BMH); Preparatory Material Relating to Pensions for Members of the West Cork Brigade (in the possession of Diarmuid Begley, Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork; Ó Broin (1985), 177; Hart (1998), 273-92; Crowley (2005), 464-65; Bielenberg, Borgonovo, and Donnelly (2014), 20-21; Keane (2014), 121-42; Keane (2017), 85-89, 117-19, 285; Ireland, Civil Registration [of] Births Index, 1864-1958 (database on-line), Provo, Utah, U.S.A., Ancestry.com Operations, 2011; England and Wales, Civil Registration [of] Deaths Index, 1916-2007 (database on-line), Provo, Utah, U.S.A., Ancestry.com Operations, 2007; Scotland, National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1936 (database on-line), Provo, Utah, U.S.A., Ancestry Operations, 2015.
Note: Thomas Hornibrook was already 67 years old and a widower at the time of the 1911 census. Residing with him in that year were his 34-year-old son Samuel Wood Hornibrook and a Catholic female servant named Margaret Cronin. The elderly father had made his anti-republican reputation in dramatic fashion in 1919, when he put up very stiff resistance to an IRA arms raid against Ballygroman House. Former Volunteer Timothy Herlihy recalled the pluck with which the aged gentleman had fought to defend his arms cache: ‘He spoke out of a window to them and said he would resist. In the course of his declarations he quoted Mr Gladstone as having once said that every man’s house was his castle. And he was going to defend his. And so he did, and defended it well. He was a good shot, but after half an hour’s fight the Volunteers forced their way in and compelled his surrender. No one was hurt on either side, but three revolvers with about 300 rounds of ammunition and two shotguns were secured.’ See Witness Statement 810 of Tim Herlihy et al., 4 (BMH). As mentioned in the previous note, Thomas Hornibrook and his son Samuel had been given other reasons by the IRA to dread nocturnal visits such as the one that tragically ended with the killing of Commandant Michael O’Neill.
In her January 1927 application to the Irish Grants Committee, Matilda Warmington Woods, daughter of Thomas Henry Hornibrook Sr, asserted that her father, her brother Samuel, and Captain Herbert Woods had been ‘dragged out of the house’ by the IRA. ‘Herbert Woods, it was ascertained afterwards [she claimed], was hung, drawn, and quartered in the presence of my father and brother. Then my father and brother had to make their own graves and were shot and buried. My father was an old man and was on the most affectionate terms with me, his only daughter, and my three infant children. We used to visit constantly at Ballygroman, having the entire freedom of the house and constantly supplied with garden and farm produce. After my father’s death I took out administration, his sole next-of-kin being myself and my brother Thomas H. Hornibrook [Jr] living abroad for a number of years.’ Matilda Woods asked the Irish Grants Committee in January 1927 for compensation of £5,000—£4,000 for her father and £1,000 for her brother Samuel Woods. See Application of Matilda Warmington Woods to Irish Grants Committee, 31 Jan. 1927 (CO 762/133/5, TNA).
No reliable documentary evidence is known to exist about how or exactly where the three Ballygroman House occupants met their deaths. Barry Keane explores the folkloric and oral-history accounts in his book Massacre in West Cork (2014). In the 2005 book, From Newce to Truce: A Story of Newcestown and Its Hinterland, local historian Seán Crowley makes the case for the secret burial of these three men in a bog at Scarriff in Templemartin parish (near Newcestown). See Crowley (2005), 464-65. Dr Andy Bielenberg, Dr John Borgonovo, and Barry Keane met with Seán Crowley in Newcestown on 17 October 2012. They ‘also visited Quinlan’s boreen in Farranthomas bog, Newcestown, with archaeologist Damien Shiels, who concluded that it would take massive resources to search the bog’. The tape of this interview is in Barry Keane’s possession. See Keane (2014), 246.
Soon after the killings of Thomas and Samuel Hornibrook and Captain Herbert Woods, the IRA set fire to Ballygroman House and burned it down along with its furniture and other contents. A District Judge in Cork granted a rebuilding claim for £1,362, but as in other cases, the Free State Minister for Finance later appealed against the judge’s order, which had given Matilda Woods the ‘liberty to substitute buildings elsewhere in the County of Cork in lieu of rebuilding Ballygroman House. This appeal [noted Matilda to the Irish Grants Committee] is still pending [in March 1927], and as it would be impossible for me to live at Ballygroman after what has occurred, I claim the sum for loss of the dwelling house [£1,362]. . . .’ In addition, she called attention to other losses. After Ballygroman House had been destroyed by fire, ornamental plantations of oak, ash, and fir had been cut down and carried away. Some two hundred trees had been cut down, including a hundred ‘full-bearing fruit trees’. Fancy paling on the avenue (a quarter-mile of it) was destroyed, and in addition shrubs, the brick gate, and the cement pillars were cut down or knocked down. Matilda Woods claimed £500 for loss of the use of Ballygroman House over five years and £350 for the destroyed paling, gate, pillars, and shrubs. Then there were the lost profits on the farm (120 acres), estimated at £1,250 over the five years. The selling value of the farm (calculated at £2,500 before April 1922) had been greatly reduced to about £1,000, because ‘the farm buildings were wrecked and destroyed within 12 months after the murders’. The total sum claimed for property damage or loss by Matilda Woods from the Irish Grants Committee in March 1927 came to almost £5,500. See Application of Matilda Warmington Woods to Irish Grants Committee (undated separate application), received 4 March 1927 (CO 762/133/5, TNA). See also Irish Times, 14 April 1923; Criminal Injuries Book, Cork East Riding, 1921-22 (Claim ID 37/167, NAI); Bielenberg, Borgonovo, and Donnelly (2014), 19; Keane (2014), 117-19.
Thomas Henry Hornibrook Sr (1844-1922) was twice married and twice widowed. His first wife was Mary Jane Woods (1831-74), with whom he had two children—Samuel Wood Hornibrook (1872-1922) and Thomas Henry Hornibrook Jr (1874-1960). The latter left Ireland before the First World War and immigrated to New Zealand. He married there in 1912 and died in 1960 at Napier, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand at the age of 86. After the death of his first wife in 1874, perhaps in childbirth, Thomas Henry Hornibrook Sr married Elizabeth Warmington Hornibrook (1851-95) on 6 September 1881 in Essex; with her he had five more children—Charlotte (died in infancy); Thomas John Hornibrook (3 March 1881-1927); Catherine Elizabeth Hornibrook Crawford (1882-1918); Edward Warmington Hornibrook (1884-[?]); and Matilda Warmington Hornibrook Woods (1886-1934). It was therefore correct for Matilda Warmington Woods to describe herself after April 1922 as the only daughter of her slain father Thomas Henry Hornibrook Sr. Her half-sister Charlotte and her sister Catherine (or Kate) had both already died—the latter fairly recently and the former many years previously. See Ireland, Civil Registration [of] Births Index, 1864-1958 (database on-line), Provo, Utah, U.S.A., Ancestry.com Operations, 2011; England and Wales, Civil Registration [of] Deaths Index, 1916-2007 (database on-line), Provo, Utah, U.S.A., Ancestry.com Operations, 2007.
Matilda Warmington Woods died on 3 March 1934 at Burlescombe House, Burlescombe Road, Thorpe Bay, in Essex. The probate of her will was granted in London on 20 April 1934 to the National Provincial Bank and was certified in Edinburgh on the following 16 May. The value of her estate at death was calculated at £17,437. Her husband Edward Woods had predeceased her on 15 July 1933 at the same address. The value of his estate at death was calculated at the much lower figure of £1,757. See Scotland, National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1936 (database on-line), Provo, Utah, U.S.A., Ancestry Operations, 2015.