Cork City, Connie Neenan:
Statement of Ted O’Sullivan (1899-1971), Later Fianna Fáil TD and Senator, Gortycloona, Bantry, Co. Cork, to Bureau of Military History, Alleged Torture by Hammer and Rifle at Castletownbere by Free State Forces, Denied by William T Cosgrave who Alleged ‘He Tried to Escape’.
Nothing exists in a vacuum and O’Sullivan grew up in an area with a high degree of political consciousness.
In 1786, 1,500 Whiteboys Liberated their companions from Skibbereen Bridewell:
The nearby Parish of Caheragh was well armed for the 1798 Rising and due to a deal between the Catholic Clergy and General Moore the arms and pikes were surrendered and the area was spared the deprivations of the British Army.
The neighbouring Muintervara Parish had a history of agitation going back at least to the late 1810s in Anti-Tithe activity spearheaded later by the parish priest of Durrus Father Quin (He and his curate were arrested) and Timothy O’Donovan JP (a Landlord). They succeeded in having tithes abolished. The O’Donovans were active in Repeal and Timothy was on the election committee of Rickard Deasy Q.C. and by getting his tenants elegible to vote to Cork was the swing factor in getting Deasy elected in the 1840s. In the 1860s member of the Dukelow, Swanton and Hurley families from Durrus were active in the Fenians in East London. One of their extended family kept a boarding house in London where Michael Collins stayed when he first came to London.
The politics was exported to Rochester, New York where poor Protestant farmers and labourers emigrated. They created from 1840 within the Republican Party a political machine which ran the city for 30 years under the ’99 cousins’.
Large numbers of men were reported to be drilling in Durrus, during Fenian times. The Land War in the 1880s was ‘hot’ with RIC reinforcement drafted in and temporary tin huts erected.
The nearby townland of Ballycomane on the Carbery estate was the scene of notorious evictions in the 1890s.
In the early 20th century Séan Hurley from a neighbouring townland was working in the Imperial Customs Service in Shanghai while advising the Chinese Nationalist and Sun Yat Sen for which he was the first Irishman to be awarded a Chinese passport.
From 1948 Ernie O’Malley recorded the experiences of a large number of mostly men involved in the Troubles including Ted O’Sullivan. The part relating to west Cork has now been published by the Mercier Press of Cork.
He described the withdrawal of the RIC from barracks in the following sequence, Eyries arms captured March 1918, First to be cleared end 1919 Kilcrohane, Allihies attacked and demolished February 1920, Adrigole cleared out before February 1920, Goleen, Mizen Head cleared out April 1920, Schull 1920, Durrus unsuccessful attack RIC cleared out nest day.Baltimore early 1920, burned September 1920, Ballydehob cleared out 1920. In the end only Bantry and Skibbereen remained in RIC hands.
Of local interest is the attack in which he was involved at Clonee in which Constable Brett was killed and also 12th June 1920 at Snave bridge where he shot dead Constable Thomas King On the 21st June 1920, Mossy Donegan (Bantry later Principal Model School Cork), Seán Lehane (Bantry), and four others ambushed an RIC bicycle patrol at Aghagoheen/Clonee. Constable James Brett was killed, wile Sergeant Driscoll and another constable was wounded.
He also speaks of Dr. McCarthy the Dispensary Doctor of Durrus. He had been a doctor with the British Army but was then the medical advisor to the local IRA and an intelligence officer. He offered to manufacture a gas in connection with the Durrus RIC raid and to get the password by drinking with the local RIC in Rosses Bar across the road. He was from Drimoleague but his father was from Letterlickey a townland near Ted O’Sullivan. In the 1820s the McCarthys and Murnanes appear in lease of the Hutchinson Estate as very substantial tenants.
From O’Sullivan’s hinterland came
The mother of singer John Spillane:
Diarmud Ó H-Eigeartaigh:
In August 1920 he was promoted to V/V of the Cork No. 3 Brigade, and late the No 5 Brigade. He took the Anti-Treaty side in the Civil War was captured and suffered severe torture allegedly by Frank O’Friel and Jim Hannon in Castletownbere with a hammer and allegedly by a rifle by Jim Hannon. The torture was raised in the Dáil by Thomas Nagle (TD for Cork City) and torture was denied by William T. Cosgrave the President of the Executive Council. He claimed the prisoner attempted to escape. To his dying day he carried the marks of the hammer on the left side of his forehead.
On Free State Illegality:
His account related how he moved to Cork in the 1920s and up to 1930 was subjected to regular harassment from the Special Branch of the Gardaí based in Union Quay Station.
He was a founder member of Fianna Fáil and was elected a TD in 1937 where he served until 1954, he was a Senator from 1964 to 1969. According to the lore of Blackrock in Cork he had great ‘pull’ enabling many locally to get work in Fords car factory.
Statement of Ted O’Sullivan, Gortycloona, Bantry to Bureau of Military History