A UCC research project in partnership with the Irish Examiner which launched today aims to shine new light on the killings of 78 suspected British civilian spies at the hands of the IRA during the War of Independence.
Today we reveal the first five highly compelling case files from what was one of the darkest periods of our history.
For more information on this research and to catch up on what will be a regularly updated database of the Cork Spy Files go to theirishrevolution.ie
Ex-soldier shot nine times for being a spy
Hanged himself after being abducted by IRA
“I got four lads to bury him. Paddy Sullivan from Cobh, who was later executed in Cork Gaol after he had been caught in [the Battle of] Clonmult, [was one of them.] Later on he asked me did we see the Examiner. And when I read it, I found that a body, which had been tied to an axle, had washed ashore. The lads had not buried him. They had tied him to a car axle and had flung him out into the sea. He was in the morgue in Midleton, I was told, in the workhouse.
Protestant home ruler murdered for no reason
Alfred Reilly, managing director of a large bakery and restaurant business in Cork city (HH Thompson and Sons, Ltd), was shot dead very near his home in the Cork suburb of Douglas.
Pinned to his chest was an envelope on which the words ‘Beware of the IRA’ had been written in pencil.
He had left his office in Cork city at about 5pm on Wednesday, February 9, 1921, and had driven in a pony and trap towards his residence in Douglas.
“Some time later, the female lodge-keeper saw the empty trap standing outside the avenue gate, and she went along the road for some distance until she found Mr Reilly lying on the ground face downwards.”
Aged 58 and a Methodist, Reilly was a member of the Cork business establishment. He had earlier organised a Methodist Church petition calling for the release of Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney when he was on hunger strike. He had Home Rule and Liberal political sympathies.
Though he had been a JP, he had not undertaken any police-court work for six years and had been fined for refusing to carry out jury duty early in 1920 when republicans were beginning to face British courts.
Nevertheless, he was suspected of being part of a civilian unionist intelligence group operating out of the Cork YMCA.
He was also thought to be a Freemason. In fact, however, he was neither a Freemason nor a YMCA member.
The killing was carried out in especially chilling fashion by three members of D Company (Second Battalion, Cork No 1 Brigade), including its captain William Barry, who recalled the deed.
“On the evening of February 9, as Reilly was returning from work in King Street [now MacCurtain Street] in his pony and trap, four of us, armed with revolvers, got into the trap and drove him to his home at Rochestown.
“We shot him outside the gate of his house and affixed a card to the body with the words ‘Spies and Informers Beware’ written on it.”
A widower aged 48 in the 1911 Census, Reilly resided at Monfieldstown in the Douglas suburb of Cork with his elderly mother (then aged 70) and his son Percival (aged 21).
Father and son listed themselves as ‘manufacturing confectioners’ in the census. The family also had three Catholic servants.
Alfred Reilly later remarried and had a daughter with his second wife Agnes. She claimed compensation for the killing of her husband on February 9, 1921, near his residence - Hill House.
The Recorder of Cork city awarded £4,500 to her and another £4,500 to their daughter.
Man cashed British Army cheques
Woman who held loyalist views killed for informing on planned ambush
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