Family succeeds in securing posthumous medal for IRA Volunteer who died on the same day as Terence MacSwiney

The unveiling of the memorial plaque in Pouaduff at the former home of IRA volunteer Joe Murphy

A long-running campaign to get a posthumous medal for an IRA Volunteer has finally come to a successful conclusion.

IRA Volunteer Joe Murphy Co. Cork, died on hunger strike October 25th, 1920

Joe Murphy, whose story is little known outside of Cork, died on hunger strike in Cork Gaol on the same day, October 25, 1920, as Terence MacSwiney, then Lord Mayor of Cork, who also died from hunger strike, but in Brixton Prison.

The scene outside Cork County Jail during the Republican hunger strike in October 1920

His father, Timothy Murphy, requested a pension as recognition for Joe’s Volunteer service as early as May 1, 1923, but was denied this from the Department of Defence.

However, at some later point, Timothy was granted a gratuity payment of £75.

The requests for recognition of his Volunteer service continued from his wife, Nora Murphy, after the death of her husband. Further family requests were made up to 1954, but again proved unfruitful.

In recent times the family persisted again and eventually the Minister with responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, announced that the family would receive a 1917-1921 Service Medal in recognition of Murphy’s service to the State.

It was presented tonight to members of the extended Murphy family at a reception in City Hall hosted by Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn.

Murphy was born in Massachusetts to Irish parents who subsequently returned to their native Cork when he was a young child. He joined the Volunteers in 1917 and became a member of H Company, 2nd Battalion, Cork No.1 Brigade.

He was involved in several attacks on British military posts and a well-publicised attack on Farran RIC barracks. He was arrested by British forces on July 15, 1920, and was imprisoned.

Murphy was among a group of 60 prisoners who went on hunger strike when their political status was taken away from them and regular newspaper articles would cover the condition of the men.

On October 8, Joe Murphy and the others on hunger strike in Cork Gaol wrote a letter to MacSwiney in Brixton expressing solidarity with him and urging him to hold fast.

British prime minister Lloyd George was asked to show mercy to the prisoners. Instead, he said they were hastening their own deaths by refusing food.

A further appeal was made for Murphy to stand formal trial for the possession of a bomb, the charge on which he was imprisoned. However, it was denied by the British authorities on the basis that he wasn’t in a proper condition due to his hunger strike.

Murphy’s condition deteriorated sharply in the meantime and he couldn’t even drink water.

On October 17, Commandant Fitzgerald died and eight days later so did Murphy, in the presence of family and friends.

A plaque was erected to his memory at his family home in Pouladuff and some years later the then Cork Corporation named a road after him in Ballyphehane.

The commemorative plaque at the house of hunger striker Joe Murphy at Ballyphehane, Co.Cork

Fiona Hennessy, whose mother, Ann O’Sullivan, is a niece of Joe Murphy, said the entire family is delighted with the special reception in City Hall “and needless to say, very proud about the awarding of the medal”.

“That he’s finally being rewarded with an official service medal of honour is just and right and credit to his family for pursuing it for almost a century. It means his memory and place in history will live on even more,” Cllr Finn said.

The ceremony was attended by senior military personnel, including Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett.

With many thanks to: Breaking News Co Cork and Sean O’Riordan for the original story

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On this day in Irish history 28th November 1920 is the anniversary of the Kilmichael Ambush Co Cork. The IRA ambush a convey of British Auxiliaries and kill seventeen of them.

A road they drove every day.
A week after Bloody Sunday an IRA column of 36 men under the command of Tom Barry in a well-planned and thought out ambush at Kilmichael, Co Cork. Three IRA men belonged to the Column were killed in the ambush. It was the largest loss of life for British forces in Ireland in the War of Independence.
In the days after this amubsh Martial Law was enforced by the British Authorities here in Ireland – photo is Tom Barry with his comrades and survivors of the Ambush taken at the site in 1966

The 19th March marks the 13th anniversary of my old comrade Charlie Ronayne (Midleton Co. Cork), who died in 2004.

Left to Right: Jim Lane. Charlie Roayne – O’Mahony, Seán Murry, ‘Gypo’ O’Mahony and Jerry Madden.

Charlie and I first met as we went together with others, across the Border on 11th December 1956 to fight the forces of occupation in the Six North Eastern Counties of Ireland.

18 Cork IRA Volunteers went on active service the following night, 12th December 1956. The attached photo was taken at Easter 1960 in Trafalgar Square, London. All 6 in the photo were Irish Republicans. In 1962, Charlie was best-man at my wedding. In later years, Charlie was a Town Councillor representing Sinn Fein on Midleton Town Council. He was re-elected several times. We remained the best of comrades all through the remainder of his life. Ní beidh a leitéid ann arís.


With many thanks to: Jim Lane, Ann Connolly. 

After the killing of RIC Sergeant Maunsell at Macroom on Saturday 21st August, 1920 a lorry load of police, including the RIC County Inspector, drove to Macroom from Bandon the next morning to investigste the incident.

They passed through the village of Lissarda on the way. After this was noted a group of local volunteers made preparations to engage them on their return.

Location of Lissarda ambush!/gillean.miller/posts/pcb.796573260465518/?photo_id=873777746024045&mds=%2Fphotos%2Fviewer%2F%3Fphotoset_token%3Dpcb.796573260465518%26photo%3D873777746024045%26profileid%3D100002093504519%26source%3D48%26refid%3D7%26_ft_%3Dqid.6211555487327669247%253Amf_story_key.2253397057148860668%26cached_data%3Dfalse%26ftid%3Du_m_7&mdf=1

The memorial to Michael Galvin just outside the village of Lissarda, on the main Cork to Macroom Road.

With many thanks to: Gillean Robertson Miller – 1916 Easter Rising Historical Society.