Cork Spy Files: UCC project throws new light on 'spy' killings during War of Independence

The publication of the "Cork Spy Files" - which throw new light on the murder of suspected spies in Cork during the War of Independence - marks the latest stage in an ongoing collaboration between UCC and the Irish Examiner.

The website is a joint initiative which has been revisiting the history of the Easter Rising and chronicling the commemorations.

The Cork Spy Files is the latest project in that collaboration and will be launched in print and online for the first time on Monday.

The files contain details of all alleged spies known to have been killed by the IRA in Co Cork during the Irish Revolution (1919-21), with 78 suspected civilian spies killed by the IRA in Cork during the War of Independence.

Over a third of such killings by the IRA across the whole of Ireland took place in Cork and the new research rebuts the previously exaggerated extent of sectarian violence in Cork during the battle for independence.

The research was carried out by Dr Andy Bielenberg, UCC School of History and leading Irish-American scholar, Professor Emeritus James Donnelly Jr.

"Our central purpose is to serve the needs of accurate, transparent, and meaningful history by placing every one of these deaths as fully and clearly as possible in the specific and local context of the War of Independence in County Cork,” said Prof Donnelly.

"In the aftermath of the conflict, there were perhaps justifiable reasons to suppress information about these killings for the benefit of all directly concerned (especially both the victims’ families and the killers), who were often neighbours," said Dr Bielenberg.

Today, meticulous research into all available historical evidence has made it possible to establish the truth about the events.

Commenting on the project, the Irish Examiner's executive editor, Dolan O'Hagan, paid tribute to UCC's ongoing commitment to the project.

"The Cork Spy Files make truly compelling reading and are testament to the brilliant research being done at UCC.  We are delighted to play our part in bringing that research to the wider audience it deserves."

A special feature in Monday’s Irish Examiner will introduce the Cork Spy Files in depth, and they will be released to the public in full at


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