Dan Lucey executed in Kilcorney for Spying

Macroom man Dan Lucey, who was of good family, was married and his brother was a priest. He was of violent temper and he was quarrelsome in disposition. In January 1921, he had fallen out with a few IRA Volunteers in Ballinagree, and was later seen talking to the Auxiliaries in Macroom. So he was visited by two IRA Volunteers from Donoughmore area disguised as British officers. He was asked if he had seen any of “the boys”—meaning IRA men—lately. He gave his questioners all the information he had, while unknownst to him, other men from Rusheen Company waited outside the door. He was taken prisoner on the spot, taken north of Mushera to Kilcorney, and was held prisoner for about a fortnight, during which time he was given a fair trial by the brigade staff and sentenced to death. He was shot and buried after in Kilcorney, by the Millstreet Battalion, Cork II Brigade.

The above is a summary of the only civilian spy incident listed in the recently published Cork Spy Files that happened in the Millstreet Battalion area (out of 78 in Cork). Below is the full file on Daniel Lucey:


16. Civilian Daniel Lucey (aged about 23) of Macroom (Kilcorney area near Millstreet)
Date of incident: 20 Jan. 1921 (kidnapped and later killed as suspected spy by IRA)
Sources: IT, 22 Aug. 1921; Private Persons Injured (CO 905/15, TNA); Matthew Kelleher’s WS 1319, 7-8 (BMH); Edward Neville’s WS 1665, 4-5 (BMH); Interview 20 with Charlie Brown, Ernie O’Malley Notebooks, P17b/112 (UCDA); Ó Ruairc (2016), 120.

Daniel Lucey appeared on the list of ‘missing persons’ published in the Irish Times of 22 August 1921. The date of his kidnapping was given there as 20 January 1921. According to Edward Neville’s BMH witness statement, Lucey ‘was visited by two men [i.e., Volunteers] from Donoughmore area disguised as British officers. He was asked if he had seen any of “the boys”—meaning I.R.A. men—lately. He gave his questioners all the information he had, while, with some other men from Rusheen Company, I waited outside the door. He was taken prisoner on the spot and was held prisoner for about a fortnight, during which time he was tried by the brigade staff and sentenced to death. He was executed after a fair trial in Kilcorney area, Millstreet Battalion, Cork II Brigade.’ See Edward Neville’s WS 1665, 4-5 (BMH). Matthew Kelleher, a native of Kilcorney and an officer (second lieutenant) of the local Volunteer company, recalled that members of the Macroom Battalion of the Cork No. 1 Brigade had placed Lucey in the custody of the Kilcorney Company towards the end of February 1921, and that ‘he was held prisoner in the area for about a week before he was tried as a spy and executed’. See Matthew Kelleher’s WS 1319, 7-8 (BMH).
Macroom Volunteer leader Charlie Brown also recalled this episode and the victim’s background: ‘Lucey, who was of good family, was married and his brother was a priest. He was of violent temper and he was quarrelsome in disposition. He had fallen out with a few Volunteers in Ballinagree [Ballynagree]. He was seen talking to the Auxies in Macroom, so the lads sent a party of men dressed in British uniforms to his house and he told them about the local lads, so they took him north of Mushera, where they shot him and buried him.’ See Interview with Charlie Brown, Ernie O’Malley Notebooks, P17b/112 (UCDA).
Daniel Lucey was in 1911 one of the ten children of the Macroom agricultural labourer James Lucey and his wife Ellen of 5 Bridewell Lane. Co-residing with them in that year were one daughter and six sons ranging in age from 3 to 19. Daniel Lucey (then aged 13) was the second oldest son living at home. His mother Ellen Lucey was awarded compensation of £900 and £30 10s. in legal costs in relation to the killing of her son, which was assumed to have occurred on 21 January 1921. See Private Persons Injured (CO 905/15, TNA).


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.

The full list of Spy Files for Cork can be read here:





19 thoughts on “Dan Lucey executed in Kilcorney for Spying”

  1. I wonder if the researchers have come across the name Dan Buckley of Millstreet who was shot in kilcorney around that time?

  2. Thanks Michael. No – not the same Daniel Buckley. The man I was asking about was shot in Kilcorney in 1920. He was 18 years old. Buried in an unmarked grave in Drishane.

  3. William O’Leary is right – it is a different Dan Buckley whose story is described in the following. Dan was a brother of ‘Pat Jim’ Buckley, Aubane.

    “…There was one fellow- he was a local fellow, Buckley but he joined the British army- he came back and they sent him away again. They sent him down to Cobh and put him on the boat, but he came back in any case and they took him and court martialled him and Canon Breen heard his confession and they shot him, they executed him…”

  4. http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS1406.pdf#page=3

    Would question the details of the “Padraig O Caoimh in conversation with his friend Richard Mulcahy in 1964” based on the eye witness account above. Deported by what would be called a Kangaroo Court today.

    If you trawl through the following: http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/bmhsearch/search.jsp?querystr=millstreet

    Some very interesting accounts of the Robbery, aftermath etc.

  5. Danny Buckley was not tried by a Kangaroo Court. He was tried by a court of the perfectly legal and democratically elected Irish Government of the day.

    1. Thanks for response Jack. Pardon my ignorance of this most interesting period. The records above indicate this was an IRA Court, not judge and jury. It also would appear that chronologically the trial was as much a response to RIC questioning of Battalion Quartermaster as the crime.

      Would you know who the “they” referred to in the O’Caoimh/Mulcahy conversation on deportation, court martial and execution?

      History has the ability to re-write itself, as more records and information become available. The good historian must objectively curate to distill fact from folklore to allow for objective reflection and learning.

  6. Jerry

    I am also on a ‘learning curve’ on this period. There is an awful lot we don’t know about it. This would have been the IRA acting as the Republican Police. As it had to operate underground it could not meet all the formalities of a normal Court but these Courts were accpted as the law of the land and replaced the official courts. There were no wigs etc. but the accused were represented and judges were trusted. I don’t know who were all the officers of the Court that took decisions in this case. It was a very unusual case and was a national issue because if the Republican Courts could not deal with such a huge robbery they could not claim to be the law of the land and their credibility was on the line.


  7. Jerry

    You asked about a judge in the case. My understanding is that the Bank Robbery case was held at Mr. Pomeroy’s house in Rathcoole and he was the judge. He was above suspicion from the authorities (being Protestant, I think) and was never raided. His name is not mentioned in any reports at the time for his own safety. Of course he did not give the judgement about execution. That was a later decision and I don’t know who decided on that.


    1. Also an interesting reference in in statement here:http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS1374.pdf#page=4

      First Name edited out in reference ….. Buckley

      Admin’s note: Below is the extract referred to above:
      “On November 17th, 1919, representatives of the Munster and Leinster Bank, Millstreet, who were travelling with cash to the branch office at Knocknagree were held up by armed raiders at Ballydaly Cross on the Millstreet-Killarney road and the sum of about £18,000 was seized.
      Tha R.I.C. (Royal Irish Constabulary) in the area interrogated me in connection with the raid; also a number of Volunteers in the area were questioned. Later it began to become the general view of some members of the
      public that the raid bad been by the I.R.A. and, as a. result, the Brigade 0/C carried out an investigation into the whole affair. The investigations revealed that the robbery had been carried out by a gang from Millstreet area, which included men named. O’Brien (2), Pat Carmody, Michael O’Connor, Michael Murphy and _____ Buckley. All these were arrested by the I.R.A. towards the end of April, 1920. They were tried by brigade officers and deported.”

  8. Jack,

    Thanks. Have also come across some references to those that were deported being held in Mourne Abbey! Also received some anecdotal references to one of the group executed near a bridge in Kilcorney; and connected to unmarked grave in Drishane Cemetery.

  9. Jerry

    Mourne Abbey is a new angle for me. Danny Buckley was the only one executed and he was executed in Kilcorney. What I heard is that he kept coming back and demanding his share of the money. If true, this was a very daring and foolish thing to do in the circumstances (without being judgemental about the man). It is a sorry story.


    1. Jack,

      The Bureau of Military History have further potential references to this case from outside of the Millstreet Area/Battalion in witness statements.

      There’s reference to a deportee who returned, was labelled as a spy – captured near Macroom near handed over for execution at Kilcorney. And another reference on a deportee captured and handed as he was threatening to take Moylan out.

      Dan Buckley was also referred to as leader of the gang in another witness statement; hard to believe as he was probably late teens at most at the time.

      Of course all these witness statements are well after the fact. The only consistency is that a robbery took place, Dan Buckley was deported (probably twice) and was executed.

      A tragic story, and probably more so for those participants who lived to re-tell; for essentially passing the death sentence for the crime of robbery or accessory to robbery which was surely beyond the law of the land or military law.

      1. Daniel Buckley (Dan Jim Paddy) was born on the 8th of December 1899, making him 19 at the time of the robbery and 20 at the time of the trial.

        From his baptism records:
        Area – KERRY (RC) , Parish/Church/Congregation – MILLSTREET
        Baptism of DANIEL BUCKLEY of MILLSTREET on 8 December 1899

        Date of Birth 8 December 1899
        Address MILLSTREET
        Father JACOBO (JAMES) NR
        Father Occupation NR
        Sponsor 2 MARIA (MARY) BUCKLEY
        Priest C MC CARTHY



        He is also in the 1901 census here:

        and the 1911 census here:

        The family home and pub was located three doors down from where Reen’s Pharmacy is now.

  10. Jerry

    As far as I know he was buried in the field across the road from Old Kilcorney cemetery. But that is anecdotal as well.


  11. Jerry

    The Irish Bulletin reports were written at the time. And the Bulletin was renowned for its accuracy. They were never challenged then and the authorities were always on the lookout to discredit anything published in it.

    There would be no need for any of this if the RIC did its job but they deliberately did not do it so that people would believe the IRA did the robbery. That is why the Republican court had to act.


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