Priest killed by Black and Tans remembered in ceremony and donation to Cork Public Museum

Priest killed by Black and Tans remembered in ceremony and donation to Cork Public Museum

At the handover of the coat worn by Fr James O'Callaghan on the night he was murdered by the Black and Tans to Cork Public Museum at Fitzgerald's Park. Pictured is Mary Healy from Clogheen, grandniece of Fr James, presenting the coat to the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh and his wife Stephanie, who accepted it on behalf of the Museum. Picture: Brian Lougheed

One hundred years on since the murder of a parish priest in Cork by the Black and Tans, the coat he was wearing on the night of the killing has been donated to Cork Public Museum. 

Father James (Seamus) O’Callaghan was shot dead in 1921 in a case of mistaken identity.

He had been staying in the home of Liam de Róiste, the prominent Sinn Féin politician, in Upper Janemount, Sunday’s Well, when the house was stormed by the Black and Tans in the early hours of May 15, 1921. 

In the weeks prior to this, de Róiste had taken to sleeping in a location away from his home, fearing an attempt on his life by British Forces. 

Father O’Callaghan went to investigate the disturbance, telling the soldiers that de Róiste was not in the building. 

Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh accompanied by his wife Stephanie, who laid a wreath at the grave of Fr O'Callaghan. Fr O'Callaghan's grandniece, Mary Healy also laid a wreath accompanied by her husband Donal Healy. A commemorative mass was concelebrated by Rt. Rev. Mons. Kevin O'Callaghan; Very Rev. Canon Richard Hurley and Very Rev. Fr. Gregory Howard, Administrator, Clogheen. Picture: Brian Lougheed
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh accompanied by his wife Stephanie, who laid a wreath at the grave of Fr O'Callaghan. Fr O'Callaghan's grandniece, Mary Healy also laid a wreath accompanied by her husband Donal Healy. A commemorative mass was concelebrated by Rt. Rev. Mons. Kevin O'Callaghan; Very Rev. Canon Richard Hurley and Very Rev. Fr. Gregory Howard, Administrator, Clogheen. Picture: Brian Lougheed

His pleas fell on deaf ears, however, and he was gunned down. 

He was taken to the North Infirmary at 4:15am but died from his wounds that evening. 

On Monday, Father O'Callaghan's grandniece, Mary Healy, donated the coat he wore on the night he was killed to Cork Public Museum on behalf of his family.

The bullet hole and bloodstain on the coat are still visible. 

The Lord Mayor accepted the artefact on behalf of the people of Cork.

"We often think of 1921 in terms of the famous patriot figures whose names appear in our school history books, but the loss of civilian life is rarely given as much thought," the Lord Mayor said.

"Father James O’Callaghan was innocent victim of the conflict, a beloved parish priest shot dead by Crown Forces in a case of mistaken identity, but the impact of his untimely death on his family, friends and locality was felt as keenly as any. I’m most gratified to be given the opportunity to honour his memory.”

At the weekend, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress Stephanie Kavanagh also laid a commemorative wreath on the grave of Father O’Callaghan in Clogheen.

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