For two decades historians have debated the nature of the IRA’s campaign against suspected civilian informers in and around Cork City during the revolutionary period.
Much of the disagreement concerns grisly testimony from the former TD Martin Corry.
I have argued previously that Corry was prone to exaggerate and invent his past deeds, which has misinformed our understanding of the period (Irish Examiner, March 27, 2013).
In their recent article ‘Missing person file’s release sheds new light on boy’s disappearance’, (Irish Examiner, November 11, 2019), historians Andy Bielenberg and Padraig Óg Ó Ruairc have convincingly argued that Martin Corry was not involved in the secret killing of Edward Parson.
In addition, Barry Keane has demonstrated that city Freemasons were not targeted for IRA assassination in 1921-22.
My research has led me to conclude that there was no wide-scale secret killing of civilians by the Cork City IRA in the Truce period, or any concerted shooting of city Protestants from 1920 to 1923.
The claim that the IRA intelligence agent Josephine O’Donoghue kidnapped teenagers and drowned children is absurd. There is virtually no evidence for these spectacular speculations, and little reason to believe O’Donoghue was some kind of Leeside Lady MacBeth.
A much different impression emerges from her Military Service Pension application (available at militaryarchives.ie), which readers can review for themselves.
Victoria White argues that “we need to try to remember everything”. I would also suggest that misremembering the past is an even worse transgression than forgetting it.
School of History, UCC