Search for the relatives of 1918 Cork gaol break
DONNCHADH Mac Niallais was a member of the Irish Volunteers when he was rescued from Cork Goal on November 11, 1918. This Sunday will mark the one-hundredth anniversary of the event and his grandson, Paul Cosgrave, is looking to meet with the relatives of the Kerry men who took part in the daring raid.
Donnchadh, originally from Glencolmcille, in south west Donegal, was facing the prospect of the death penalty by a military court when he was rescued, while Paul believes it may have been one of the earliest operations conducted by the Irish Volunteers after the Easter Rising of 1916.
Some of the key men from Kerry involved in the raid were Florence O’Donoghue from Rathmore, and Joe Murphy (place of origin unknown). The latter was one of the organisers and he was the first of six men to enter the goal to carry out the escape. The raid took place at 3:45pm and its thought the men took full advantage of the armistice celebrations, which had been announced earlier that day, as the guards were drunk.
“This was probably the earliest major operation by the Irish Volunteers after 1916 and a number of the key men involved were from Kerry. They walked in knowing they were facing considerable risk to themselves, not least because the Gaol was guarded by the military,” said Paul.
Such was the sense of danger, the men had the presence of mind to establish a first aid station nearby with Fr Dominic lined up to administer the last rites to any fatalities that might be sustained in the raid. The men were entirely successful and managed to rescue Donnchadh. They all escaped without a shot being fired, or sustaining injury.
“That was really quite amazing. They even locked the Gaol behind them and kept the keys as mementos! To mark the centenary my family and I are hoping to meet with some of the relations of those involved. I would be very interested to hear from anyone in Kerry related to the men involved,” Paul added.
Paul believes there may also have been women who helped in the raid. Some of the man involved in the escape are: Sean O’Hegarty, Florence O’Donoghue, Joe Murphy, Jerome Donovan, Martin Donovan, Christy Mac Sweeney, Paddy Healy, Frank McCarthy, Paddy Varian, Harry Varian, Raymond Kennedy, Sean Scanlan, Tom Crofts, Mark Wickham, Jack Allard, Denis Cholan and Father Dominic.
Anyone who wants to contact Paul, email: firstname.lastname@example.org