It took the intervention of his brother to make sure that the mother of a teenage IRA officer killed in the infamous 1920 Kilmichael ambush received a financial award.

The active service of 16-year-old Pat Deasy was not in question, and it was certified by the Military Service Registration Board on November 28, 1934 — the 14th anniversary of his death. He was wounded in the stomach and died hours later, following an engagement that has been the subject of heated historical debate over differing accounts of what happened.

Deasy and two other IRA members — Michael McCarthy and Jim O’Sullivan — died in the exchange that also left 17 Royal Irish Constabulary Auxiliaries dead on the road between Macroom and Dunmanway, Co Cork.

His mother Mary applied under the military pensions acts for an allowance in December 1933, 18 months after the death of her husband.

The file shows that Pat Deasy was employed as a draper’s apprentice with JJ Calnan in Bandon, starting work on seven shillings a week in 1918, and was being paid 12 shillings in the final months of his employment. His entire pay was being given to his mother, where he was the only one of six sons living at home, until October 1920.

Only one of her remaining sons was reported to be financially assisting Mrs Deasy when her claim was probed by a local customs oficer in Bandon at the beginning of 1935. But the claim was rejected, based on a finding that she had not been dependent on her son.

In November 1937, Liam Deasy wrote to then defence minister Frank Aiken asking for the case to be reconsidered. Both had been leading anti-Treaty IRA officers in the Civil War, Aiken becoming chief of staff in the final stages.

Mary Deasy’s case was reopened, and Liam made a statment that his brother left his job the month before his death, to take up their ill father’s work as a postman and local coal agent, work that someone else was paid to do for over a year after Pat died.

“He left my father’s house a few days before the Kilmichael ambush to take part in the preparations for the ambush,” he stated.

This and a similar statement by Mrs Deasy satisfied the Army Pensions Board of her partial dependence on Pat, leading to an award of £85 being made in March 1938.

More on this topic

Military archives: Pension files highlight role of women in Irish wars and IRA’s 1922 massacreMilitary archives: Pension files highlight role of women in Irish wars and IRA’s 1922 massacre


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