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Encyclopedia > Dunmanway Massacre

The Protestant Massacre refers to the killings of thirteen Protestant civilians, allegedly by maverick elements of the Irish Republican Army, in West Cork] between 26 April/28 April 1922, apparently triggered by the killing of a member/volunteer of the IRA, Michael O'Neill, Acting Officer Commanding of the Bandon Battalion by one of those subsequently killed. The IRA, plus pro and anti Treaty Sinn Fein representatives, immediately and vociferously condemned the killings. This article is about the historical army of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic (1919–1922) which fought in the Irish War of Independence 1919-21, and the Irish Civil War 1922-23. ... April 26 is the 116th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (117th in leap years). ... April 28 is the 118th day of the year (119th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 247 days remaining. ... Year 1922 (MCMXXII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar). ... The Officer Commanding (OC) is the commander of a sub-unit or minor unit (smaller than battalion size) in British and Commonwealth military usage. ... Sinn Féin (in the Irish language ourselves or we ourselves; not as sometimes incorrectly translated, ourselves alone) is an Irish political party. ...



The killings took place during a truce period after the end of the Irish War of Independence (July 1921) and before the outbreak of the Irish Civil War in June 1922. During this period, the IRA was left in effective control over much of Ireland due to the withdrawal of British troops and the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) to barracks and the absence of any Irish authority to fill the power vacuum. In this situation several IRA units continued attacks in spite of the truce ordered by their headquarters in Dublin. Between December 1921 and February of the next year, there 80 recorded attacks by the IRA on the soon to be disbanded RIC, leaving 12 dead [1]. The killings at Dunmanway led controversial historian Peter Hart to conclude that sectarian conflict between Catholics and Protestants was a central part of Ireland's war of independence - his findings have been challenged and contradicted by Meda Ryan (2003), Brian Murphy (2006), and John Borgonovo (2007). Combatants Irish Republic United Kingdom Commanders Michael Collins Richard Mulcahy Cathal Brugha Important local IRA leaders Henry Hugh Tudor Strength Irish Republican Army c. ... The Irish Civil War (June 28, 1922 – May 24, 1923) was a conflict between supporters and opponents of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 6, 1921, which established the Irish Free State, precursor of todays Republic of Ireland. ... The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) was one of Irelands two police forces in the early twentieth century, alongside the Dublin Metropolitan Police. ... Peter Hart is a Canadian historian, specialising in modern Irish History. ... Sectarianism is an adherence to a particular sect or party or denomination, it also usually involves a rejection of those not a member of ones sect. ...

Dunmanway had been garrisoned during the 1919-1921 conflict by a company of the Auxiliary Division. When they evacuated their barracks, situated in the old workhouse, in early 1922, the IRA discovered intelligence documents that were left behind, including a list of local loyalist activists and informers. The Auxiliaries' files showed that some Protestants in Dunmanway had formed a group known as the "Loyalist Action Group" or "Protestant Action Group", affiliated to the Anti-Sinn Fein League and the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. The group was suspected of passing information to the British forces during the fighting [2]. Those killed in the massacre were all named as active loyalists in the Auxiliary intelligence documents. The Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary, generally known as the Auxiliaries or Auxies, was a paramilitary organization within the RIC during the Anglo-Irish War. ... This article does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... An Informant is someone who provides information to law enforcement agencies. ... The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland is the governing body of the Orange Order in Ireland. ...

The killings

On April 26, a group of IRA men, led by Michael O'Neill, arrived at the house of Thomas Hornibrook, a former magistrate and Protestant loyalist, seeking to seize his car. They demanded a part of the engine mechanism that had been removed, presumably to prevent such commandeering. Hornibrook refused, at which point the IRA party broke in a window. There was a dispute in the hall of the Hornibrook's home and Herbert Woods, another loyalist and former British soldier, shot O'Neill, wounding him fatally. O'Neill's companions took him to local priest before he died and then left for Bandon to report the incident to their superiors. Bandon is the name of several places Bandon in Oregon, USA Bandon in Ireland the River Bandon in Ireland the old name of Surat Thani in Thailand the Bandon Bay near Surat Thani This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share...

According to Ryan (2003), Some days later (though it is not reported in the Irish daily newspapers) Capt Woods, Thomas Hornibrook and his son Samuel went missing, unaccounted for, and in time presumed killed. Although an exaggerated account is given in the Morning Post of, 'about 100' IRA men who 'surrounded the house and smashed in the door', definite records are not available to confirm their deaths. Their house was burned sometime after the incident.[3] The Morning Post was a conservative daily newspaper published in London from 1772 to 1937, when it was acquired by The Daily Telegraph. ...

A spate of what are assumed to be revenge killings of Protestant loyalists took place over the next two days. In the late hours of 26th and the early hours of the 27th, David Gray, Francis Fitzmaurice and James Buttimer were shot dead in the doorways of their homes on the Main St. in Dunmanway and a number of other Protestants in Dunmanway were attacked. Next evening, two men (Robert Howe and John Chinnery) were shot dead at their farms in Ballaghanure, east of Dunmanway. In the nearby village of Ballineen, a 16 year-old, Alexander McKinley was shot dead. In the nearby Murragh rectory, the son of the rector (Robert Harbord who was himself a curate) was shot dead on the doorstep). In a house in Caher (to the west of Ballineen) John Buttimer and Jim Greenfield were shot dead. Ten miles away, Robert Nagle was shot in his home in MacCurtain Hill in Clonakilty. Other houses in Clonakilty were raided. The following night (28 April), John Bradfield was shot dead in his home in Killowen, east of Murragh and other Protestant homes raided. The twin villages of Ballineen (Béal Átha Fhínín in Irish) and Enniskean (Inis Céin in Irish) in County Cork are located 43 km southwest of Cork City, Ireland, on the R586 road. ... WGS-84 (GPS) Coordinates: 51. ... Killowen (from Irish: Church of Owen) is a small village in County Down, Northern Ireland, near Rostrevor. ...

The men targeted had been named in the British intelligence files referred to above. However in two cases, the IRA killed the brother and son of those they were looking for. In their case, exceptionally, the British Auxiliary intelligence document had listed surnames only, without first names.[4]

In the aftermath of the attacks, over 100 Protestant families fled West Cork [5]


The perpetrators of the massacre were never identified or prosecuted. It is not clear who ordered the attack or carried it out. Local IRA commanders, Tom Barry, Liam Deasy and Sean Moylan, ordered that armed guards be put on the homes of other known loyalists to prevent further violence. Tom Barry, who had returned immediately from Dublin on hearing of the killings, ensured that some who attempted to take advantage of the situation by stealing livestock owned by Protestants were firmly discouraged. For this he earned a friendship and respect of Protestant families in the area lasting until his death in 1980.[6] Tom Barry is also the name of an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter. ... Liam Deasy was an Irish Republican Army officer in the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War of the 1920s. ... Seán Moylan (November 19, 1888 - November 16, 1957), was a senior Irish Fianna Fáil politician. ...

The massacre was condemned in the Dail by Arthur Griffith, president of the Irish Provisional Government, who stated that his government, does not know and cannot know as the National Government, any distinction of class or creed. In its name I express the horror of the Irish nation at the Dunmanway murders. Speaking immediately afterwards Sean T O'Kelly said he wished to associate the anti-treaty side with Griffith's sentiments.[7]. Speaking in Mullingar April 30th, the Anti-Treaty leader Eamon de Valera condemned the killings.[8] A general convention of Irish Protestant Churches in Dublin released a statement saying that, apart from this incident, hostility to Protestants by reason of their religion, has been almost, if not wholly unknown, in the 26 counties in which they are a minority [9]. Dáil Éireann is the lower house of the Oireachtas (parliament) of the Republic of Ireland1. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


  1. ^ Niall C Harrington, Kerry Landing, August 1922: An Episode of the Civil War, Anvil Books, 1992:8. ISBN: 0947962700
  2. ^ Meda Ryan, Tom Barry, IRA Freedom Fighter, Mercier, 2003:157. ISBN-13: 978-1856354806
  3. ^ Ryan 2003:158
  4. ^ Ryan 2003:159
  5. ^ Harrington 1992:8
  6. ^ Ryan, 2003:161
  7. ^ Ryan 2003:161
  8. ^ Dorothy McArdle, The Irish Republic, 1999:705
  9. ^ Ryan, 2003:161

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