Search for the rel­a­tives of 1918 Cork gaol break

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - NEWS - By STEPHEN FERNANE

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: paul.cos­

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