The Undead: Cork's missing War of Independence Freemasons 1920-1926: updated 9 June 2017

The Undead: Ireland's War of Independence and Cork's Freemasons 1920-1926: updated 31 May 2017

Part 1:    The Undead: Commentary

Part 2:    Alternative facts? Gerard Murphy’s ever deceasing Masons.

Part 3:    The Undead:  Updated list of the 'missing masons'.

Part 1: The Undead: Commentary

Introduction:

What happened to the Protestant minority in County Cork during the Irish War of Independence and Civil War between 1919 and the end of 1923 has become a fiercely contested topic among Irish historians over the past twenty years. Since Peter Hart first claimed that something approaching ‘ethnic cleansing’ occurred historians have been drawn to the topic like no other. This ‘Peter Hart war’ is finally coming to an end with new research showing that the extent of native migration (forced or otherwise) was far less than previously suggested and new examinations of the dead of the revolution which show that the number of Protestant killed was far less than previously claimed by Hart. One of the most controversial books is the 2010 Year of Disappearances by Dr. Gerard Murphy who claims that the IRA targeted Protestants living on the south side of Cork City and drove them out of the area. I have previously examined and corrected his list of Protestants shot in Cork at this time, a fact he has acknowledged. This is available on my website Protestant Cork 1911-1926.

Following on from the research for my book Massacre in West Cork I briefly re-examined Gerard Murphy’s list of 32 individuals in ‘Appendix IX’ of the Year of Disappearances who were ‘struck off’ from the membership list of Cork Freemasons between 1920 and 1925. He believes ‘that the majority of these men probably disappeared’ as they were not in Cork after the revolution and that their homes had been passed on to their wives or other people by 1924.[1]  This is the core element of his ‘controversial thesis’ that this group were shot by the IRA.[2] He suggests that many of these men were held in ‘Sing Sing’ IRA prison in Knockraha before they were executed by Martin Corry and buried on his farmland.[3] Sadly, he presents little or no solid evidence to support any of this. However, Murphy also says his book is a book of evidence and he has invited scholars to correct it if necessary.

I was more than happy to oblige. What I found was that an awful lot of the 32 had definitely survived while a substantial number of the rest were found to have left Cork many years before the revolution. Of course, it is possible that all of these came back, were abducted by the Cork IRA, shot, secretly buried around the rim of the city and that rather than go looking for them their families covered up their murders in both Ireland and the UK. My history tends to be a lot less complex than that but, as always, the reader can decide.

Commentary:

Upon examination of Murphy’s list, it quickly becomes clear that a number of the struck-off lodge members were non-locals who had left Cork many years before. The most obvious example is Walter Corin who was the son-in-law of the Governor of Cork prison Thomas Andrews.[4] Walter left Cork in 1907 to return to England with his new wife and spent the rest of his life there. Others are clearly military and were never local Corkonians such as Captain Mungo John Smith who was Scottish and fought in the First World War according to his War record in the National Archives at Kew.

Secondly, the death records and other records of some of the people on the list are readily available. Eric Fleeton who was struck off probably died in London in 1971.[5] There is absolutely no doubt that his father Robert Fleeton Snr. (a member of Lodge 71 who is not on the list but who Murphy suggests was poisoned) died in 1923 and that his brother Robert Fleeton Jnr. died during the First World War.  Equally, Robert Edward and Victor Henry Beecher both migrated to Canada in 1910 and both fought as Canadian soldiers in the First World War, returning to Canada in 1919. The rest of the family followed them in April 1923.[6]

A third group present insurmountable difficulties for any researcher. Some give tantalising hints like Thomas Morgan who is described as a varnish maker on the file in the Masonic Hall in Cork. A man with the same name was a French Polisher in Belfast in the 1911 census but it has proved impossible on such flimsy evidence to make any judgement (or indeed headway) about his details.

One name on the list is that of a man abducted and killed by the IRA. This was a Francis McMahon was identified as a spy by Josephine Marchment Brown, the IRA spy in the office of British Intelligence in Cork. This man was not a Freemason nor a Protestant and it is a case of mistaken identity by Murphy. However, it is also possible that some of the people on this list like Stanley Hunt and John Cottrell were killed by the IRA but there is just no evidence to assist in making any judgement. Another Henry A. Harris was murdered in Boulogne and a day or two later a note claiming to be from the IRA stated they had killed him. However, there is no evidence of a link to Cork in the murder and the French police dismissed the note as a red herring.

We now know what happened to 21 of the 32 names on Murphy’s list (in green), probably identified another 2 (in blue-greater than 50% certainty) and failed to find sufficiently usable or provable information about the other 9 (purple).

Following this examination, it seems reasonable to me that the reason these men were struck off Lodge 71 was administrative. After all Murphy states in his book that he looked at other individuals whose membership had lapsed in both the masons and the YMCA (Appendix X) but he found they either survived or moved away. He did not publish the names of this group or what happened to them. Yet they are as much part of the story as the 32.

71% of Murphy’s disappeared either did not disappear at all (65.25%) or have left sufficient information to show that on the balance of probabilities [in my opinion] they were not killed in Cork in 1922. Put simply, almost 66% of Murphy’s evidence upon which he builds his argument of the Missing Masons is wrong. It is, therefore, a fact that Gerard Murphy’s controversial thesis that the IRA killed and buried the bodies of these 32 Cork Freemasons is incorrect and that few of his Freemason Protestants actually from the south side of Cork as opposed to non-locals, disappeared. If the military is excluded, and, in my view most should be, then the outcome for virtually everyone on the 'list of disappeared' has been established with reasonable certainty. It is, of course up to Murphy to come up with evidence to disprove this analysis if he wishes: it is his research in the first place. I’m quite happy to stick now at 21 definites following this latest update. I wish him the best of luck on the rest.

In fairness to Murphy the available and searchable records of 2010 could not possibly have yielded these results but this is why historians were so cautious in making claims about what might and might not have happened during the revolution in Cork. This is why scholars set the evidence bar so high and why they were so critical of his book while respecting his research. There is no doubt that the Cork City IRA kidnapped and shot far more people than either the West Cork or North Cork brigades, so there is a small grain of truth in his theory. However, as practically all of these had been known about previously only his theory on the ‘missing masons’ broke major new ground. There is no doubt that people like James and Fred Blemens disappeared, but it was not without a trace with the IRA admitting their killing and their people went looking for them.  The argument should move on to what exactly happened to these IRA members, mainly Roman Catholic civilians and Church of England military. There are many other probably disappeared peppering the archives and these also deserve analysis.[7] Enough time and bitter words have been spent on Murphy’s increasingly threadbare thesis and it is time to move on.

Part 2 Alternative facts? Gerard Murphy’s ever deceasing ‘missing’ Masons.

 

Prologue:

‘A month or two later I got another email from the same source to tell me that a Dr. Edward Hawkesworth, a Protestant originally from the Blackrock Road who died as a result of gunshots in the street in Cork in September had actually died from a heart attack. Needless to say, I removed both from my lists of dead victims, even though you could argue that Hawkesworth’s heart attack may have been brought on by the fact that he was fired at. In both cases I think I acknowledged Barry Keane as the source of this information in the one or two public forums where these were mentioned’.

 

Gerard Murphy Cork Spy Files 2 When is a Protestant not a Protestant?’ Year of disappearances blogpost

The news report about the death of Dr. Edward Hawkesworth shows he was not shot at, shot under, shot over, or shot near on the night he died at, what is now, Finn’s Corner in the centre of Cork. He simply collapsed of a heart attack and was given first aid by Free State soldiers guarding the Cork Examiner who took him to the Mercy where he was pronounced dead. His sister, was however, killed by the anti-treaty IRA as ‘collateral damage’ in an attack on Free State headquarters in Moore’s Hotel on another date but that’s another story. [8]

Barry Keane, 29 March 2017 Cork Protestant Decline 1911-1926

Commentary:

One of the final jobs an author gets to do is to approve the blurb for their book. This is designed as a hook to draw the reader in and publishers spend a lot of time getting this right. The blurb (see below) tells you what the author thinks is inside, and as the Year of Disappearances claims that in 1922 the Cork IRA had abducted and murdered a significant number of individuals whose murders had been covered up at the time and after by, among others, the minority Protestant community the blurb is important. Unsurprisingly, the book attracted interest, and often incredulity, and since the publication of The Year of Disappearances Gerard Murphy has been robust in its defence. He has not had much choice as many of the reviews were deeply critical.[9]

Sadly, in my opinion much of that defence is what I consider to be nasty, personalised and often spiteful blog posts and reviews. Certainly, after he questioned the honesty of my research and my motives in Massacre in West Cork and then was not, in my opinion man enough to admit his crass comment, apologise and move on, I consigned him to the group of people I do not need to know or take seriously. His latest blog post about my analysis of his infamous list of 32 ‘missing’ Cork City Freemasons has not improved my opinion of him. [10]

By happy coincidence, I was literally in the process of updating my analysis of his list of ‘struck off Freemasons’ (28 March 2017) to include the recent online release of the Irish Birth Marriage and Death records when his new post appeared. In it he claims that he never stated in the Year of Disappearances that Protestants were ‘ethnically cleansed’ from the south side of Cork and I am more than happy to say that he did not.[11] The essence of his argument however is contained in the blurb and I am sure the reader is intelligent enough to work it out for themselves. The blurb says

‘Every spy who was shot in Cork was buried so that nothing was known about them. They just disappeared.’ These are the words of an IRA commander recalling the War of Independence in Cork city. The Year of Disappearances examines this claim and others like it. It uncovers a web of suspicion and paranoia that led to scores of men and boys being abducted from their homes before being executed as ‘enemies of the Republic’ and their bodies buried. While some of this took place during the War of Independence, most of it happened the following year, during the so-called ‘Cork Republic’. The net result was to change the demographic of the south-eastern corner of the city for ever, with hundreds of families fleeing and up to fifty individuals buried in unmarked graves in surrounding areas. Using a wide range of previously untapped sources, Murphy shines new light on one of the darker episodes of twentieth-century Irish history.

Gill & McMillan[12]

I am equally reproved for playing fast and loose with the truth.  Just to be clear 21 out of Murphy’s list of 32 Freemasons of whom he stated in The Year of Disappearances ‘that the majority of these men probably disappeared’, did not.

A further 9 leave insufficient traces in the records to make any judgement as to their fate (28%) and the remainder (2) probably did not die in Cork in 1922, which is, after all, the claim in Murphy’s book.[13] Many of this latter group are British Military and on the balance of the available evidence they are more likely than not to left long before or during 1922 but who is to know for certain?

I might argue one way or the other about where people should lie between no information, insufficient information and a probable identification and certainty. Murphy is more than welcome to do so also, as are the other scholars who take an interest in this such as Andy Bielenberg and James Donnelly. However, I refuse to get into daft arguments with anyone about whether my reading of evidence is more correct than theirs. If I make a mistake I fix it. If I get ahead of the evidence at times fine: I’m more than happy to correct it. I don’t need to be abused in the process, nor have my motives questioned, when I have constantly stated that my motives in this, and similar articles, are to establish the evidence. It is up to the reader to decide for themselves what the evidence means. Otherwise what is the point of writing factual research?

For the record, what I say about the subjects of Murphy’s main complaints is different to his interpretation.

1.       William B. Beamish: I wrote ‘Though it does say William B. this is more likely [my emphasis] to be William Henry Beamish (Land Agent) who lived in Glounthane and had his office next to the Cork County Club on South Mall. If it is in fact [my emphasis] this man then he died in 1927 at Upton on Severn according to Burke’s Irish Families 1976’. Any fair reading of the entry would notice the heavy doubts contained within. Not so with Murphy who writes ‘He [Keane] states for instance that William B. Beamish is ‘more likely’ to have been William Henry Beamish of Glounthaune who died in England in 1927, rather than William B. Beamish who lived in the city and was an insurance agent. I guess if you change his initials he could have been anybody’. I was wrong as William B Beamish was William Bernard Beamish. However, as he died in 1926 in Skibbereen then he did not disappear, (see below).

2.       He also criticised me for suggesting probable death dates for William Highet and Frederick Leonard. I researched both of these men in detail and those are the probable death dates for the individuals I researched. However, I was not able to state with absolute accuracy that either of the two individuals in the death records are definitely the man on the Freemason list. I have now established beyond any doubt that Leonard died in 1954 and I am almost certain but not quite about Highet, simply by process of elimination.

3.       Finally, he points an error in relation to John Cottrell (which I freely admit) but blithely sails past the fact that I say there is insufficient information about him which puts a very different interpretation on the entry and his critique. As there is insufficient information how does anyone know what happened to the man? I made it clear I did not.

Murphy, who is a good researcher, only managed to find 5 of his 32 living elsewhere or having survived so increasing the number to 21 survivors is highly significant.[14] I won’t bother making any further comment other than to ask the reader to decide who is being ‘premature to say the least, if not downright disingenuous’ to quote Murphy in their presentation of information.

Murphy, I’m sure, will be anxious find the remaining people and establish what happened to them. If he finds evidence to show that any Freemasons on this list disappeared or were murdered I will be the first to accept it, but it has to be evidence. It appears, however, that he is now suggesting a threadbare argument that the people I identified as having left Cork before 1922 could have returned just in time to be murdered and secretly buried. I await the evidence.

Part 3: The Undead: the list

Definites in green: Probables in Blue: Insufficient information in purple

1.    Eric Ralph Fleeton was born in 1896 in Cork but his first name is misspelled as Berick on his birth certificate. An E. R Fleeton attended one meeting of Lodge 71 in July 1920. An Eric Ralph Fleeton, engineer, married a Florence Mabel Sweetman in Dublin on 18 August 1920. His father was Robert and a teacher according to the marriage certificate. Eric Ralph and Mabel Fleeton went to India according to the United Kingdom Ship Passenger departures lists and later returned. An Eric R J Fleeton was an elector in London in 1949 as was a Florence M. Fleeton. Eric Ralph Fleeton (born 1896) died in 1971 in Hallisham London. There is no doubt that this man left Cork in 1920 and died many years later in London.

a.       Robert Theodore Osmund Fleeton Memorial: St. Nicholas Church Cork, Airman 3rd Class (75121, Royal Flying Corp, Recruit Depot. Killed 26 April 1917, aged 16. Son of Robert and Jeanie Eloise Fleeton of 1 Brookfield Villas, College Rd, Cork.

b.       Robert Fleeton Snr. died in Cork on 1 June 1923 at the Victoria Hospital from ‘gastritis for 28 days’ which resulted in exhaustion from vomiting according to Nurse B. O’Driscoll who informed the registrar of his death on 13 June 1923. Murphy states that a Cork Examiner report of 6/6/1923 suggests that he was poisoned by the IRA. I have checked the Cork Examiner for 6/6/1923 and cannot find the reference to Fleeton but if Murphy can provide a page number this would help. Murphy P. 328

 

2.   Nathaniel Todd attended meetings of Lodge 71 in 1919 and 1920 but is not on the attendance book after that. He was the chief steward of the County Club on South Mall in 1921 according to Guy’s Directory. He remained so in 1924 so presumably he either died or left Cork after this date as Murphy correctly states in his book. Murphy P.282

3.      John Beecher lived at House 50, (No. 50) Quaker Road in 1911 along with Victor H. The other son, Robert, was not at home on census night. John Beecher was still living at 50, Quaker Road in 1921 but is no longer there by 1925. He would have been 63 by 1921, (Murphy P. 281,282). His great grand-niece Pamela Black reports that ‘The boys Robert & Vic Beecher were my great uncles. The info. you have on them seems correct. John Beecher aged 63 living at 50 Quaker Road was their father. He followed the boys to Canada with the rest of his family on April 7, 1923 from Queenstown to Halifax.

4.     Robert Edward Beecher (1892-1978) His obituary: Educator, school inspector, Born at Kilkenny, Ireland on 5 March 1892, he came to Canada in 1912 and worked as an accountant. During the First World War, he served with the 12th Field Ambulance of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, returning to Manitoba from overseas service in 1919. He then taught school at Wyndham then, from 1921 to 1925, was a member of the staff of Roblin Collegiate. From 1925 to 1929, he was the Principal of Cypress River School. In the latter year, he was appointed a School Inspector, based at Eriksdale. He moved to Neepawa in 1936 where he remained until retirement in 1956. On 26 December 1919, he married Marion Jean Jolliffe (?-1972) at Roblin. They had three children: Edward Ross Beecher, Mrs. K. C. Moir, and Pat Beecher. He was a member of the Masons (Neepawa Lodge). He died at Neepawa on 2 July 1978. Robert’s sign up papers in 1916 are available from the Canadian National Archives free online.

5.    Victor Henry Beecher went to Canada and his sign up papers in 1916 are available on the Canadian Archives website. He returned to Roblin, Manitoba Canada.

6.      Walter Corrin He had moved to Surrey along with his wife by 1907. See also Thomas Andrew’s biographical note in Pike’s Contemporary Biographies available online from the Cork City Library for a cross-reference. On 12 November 1934, he died in a London nursing home, of cancer of the liver.

7.      Robert Cassidy lived in house 8 on Merchants Quay in the 1911 census. He was a cycle agent at 8, Merchants Quay in 1913 according to Guys but no longer there in 1921 when the shop was owned by Wilkins who repaired Primus stoves (and whose daughter was used as a hostage in Black & Tan lorries). Robert, Frances, Isabella, Herbert and Louisa Cassidy (aged 8) are recorded in the 1911 census, living with their father Robert (Cycle Agent). He later lived at 10 Alverna, Mardyke, Cork from where his children Isabella, Frances (1923), Herbert (1924), and Louise/Louisa (1950) got married. He and Louise witnessed the marriage of Frances in September 1923. Louise/Louisa married Alfred (Alfie) Allen of Calshanure House, Ovens, Co. Cork in 1950 according to Burke's Irish Family Records lived in Dunkeld, Highfield Avenue, College Road, Cork. The Dunkeld address appears to be a mistake. On their marriage certificates he is recorded as an engineer or motor engineer and as there is no cross next to his name he is alive at the time of the marriage. There is no doubt that this is the same family and that Robert Cassidy survived the War of Independence and the ‘Year of Disappearances’.

8.      Edward Collingwood Lithographer was in the 1901 Census along with his wife Georgina and their daughter Sophia living on Friars Walk. The family are recorded in Bristol in the 1911 Census.  It is highly unlikely that there was more than one Edward Collingwood, Lithographer. According to Gerard Murphy’s latest blogpost Collingwood died in Somerset in 1942. I await publication of the evidence for this claim.

9.      Thomas Bew, A Commercial Traveller called Thomas Bew was living in the Metropole Hotel according to the 1911 Census. He was Church of England and was born in England. A commercial traveller called Thomas Bew got married in Cork to Sarah Cambridge of Clonakilty in St. Mary’s Shandon and the Wesley Chapel according to the marriage certificate. He them transferred to the Clonakilty Lodge before briefly returning to Cork. He subsequently moved to Belfast where he resigned from the Freemasons according to the surviving record, around 1925, though he did re-join later in Belfast so presumably he survived.

10.    Henry A. Harris He left Ireland for Bristol in 1921 and is the subject of speculation by Murphy that he was killed by the Cork IRA at Boulogne in 1923. There is no evidence connecting the two facts. A note claimed to be from the IRA was delivered a couple of days after his death but connecting the dots in this case requires far too many dots.

11.    Captain Mungo John Smith remained in the Royal Field Artillery and fought in World War 1. His long service record is available at National Archives Kew WO339/25483 Captain Mungo John SMITH. Royal Field Artillery. Captain Smith was Scottish. The London Gazette announced under the heading ROYAL REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY ‘The under-mentioned to be temporary Lieutenants’:  Dated 23rd March, 1915, Mungo John Smith London Gazette Supplement. There is only one Captain Mungo John Smith in the British Army who is in the RFA. He is recorded in the Lodge 95 Records of payments for 1918 with an address at Ballincollig Barracks which is crossed out and replace with anti-aircraft battery I of W which presumably  is Isle of Wight. In 1920 his address is given for London.[15] He is not recorded in 1921 or after.

12.     John Moore Friars Street Cork Left home and disappeared in March 1921. He was probably suffering from dementia. There is no evidence whatsoever that he was shot by the IRA and as the freemason sat his Grand Lodge examinations in October 1921 then there is clear evidence that he was alive a full eight months after his supposed abduction by the IRA.

13.    Francis Leo McMahon Victoria Road: This has been the most contested of all the supposed deaths on the list. In the end, solving the riddle comes down to publishing the information on the internet and a simple name change. There is no doubt that a Francis McMahon was shot and secretly buried by the IRA in May 1921 because they say they did it. Gerard Murphy decided that this man was either Francis Mc Mahon or his son Francis Victor Mc Mahon, both Protestant, who lived in St. Luke’s Cross. This was not an unreasonable assumption but it was always difficult to fit all the pieces of the jigsaw together as there was no direct evidence. Research by Dr. Andy Bielenberg of UCC has definitively established that this was Alphonsus Leo McMahon who married Mary Cronin of 6, Woodland View in 1920.[16] His wife made a compensation claim from 6, Woodland View, Western Road according to the Cork Examiner report in late 1921. So, as it turns out the person shot by the IRA was not a freemason due to the fact that as a Roman Catholic he could not have joined the order.

Furthermore, an F. McMahon is recorded as living at the address Gerard Murphy identifies in 1920, 1921 and 1922 in Purcell’s Cork Almanac, but not in 1923. However. He appears in Guy’s in 1925. It has also been established that Francis Victor McMahon was still a member of the Freemasons in 1924 (from the same record that Murphy had studied) and that Francis Mc Mahon senior died in Lancashire in 1925 with probate going to his wife Mary.[17]

14.    John R. Hennessy The only Church of Ireland Hennessy family in Cork lived at 14 Friars Walk. According to the 1911 census John and Alfred are described as an accountant and a coppersmith but on the Freemasons list they are described as an accountant and Engineer. John Reeves Hennessy and Alfred Hennessy are recorded in both 1901 and 1911 census and had 8 brothers and sisters. They were living on Coach Street in 1901 and Friars Walk in 1911.  According to Murphy John Reeves Hennessy died in Surrey in 1974. Again, I await the evidence. See Alfred Hennessy below

15.    Alfred Hennessy This is the brother of John Reeves Hennessy both of whom are recorded in both 1901 and 1911 censes and had 8 brothers and sisters. They were living on Coach Street in 1901 and Friars Walk in 1911. Alfred was a coppersmith in the Dockyard and John was and engine fitter which suggests the family were connected with the British Navy as does the fact that their father William may have born in India. William died in 1912 HENNESSY—On the 23rd Dec., 1912, at his residence, 14 Friar's Walk, of pneumonia, William, eldest son of the late Bryan Hennessy, aged 51 years. Funeral on Christmas morning, at 9.15 sharp, for Douglas. Alfred Hennessy married Anne Glasson in 1917 and their third child John was born in 1921. There are various newspaper entries for the Hennessy’s at Friar’s Walk after 1922 but none for Alfred. However, when Sarah Hennessy died on 6 July 1932 the witness was Alfred Hennessy of 14 Friar’s Walk according to her death certificate. An A. Hennessy was the occupier of 14, Friars Walk according to Guy’s Almanac in 1945 and this may well be another family member from the records of an eviction case around that time. However, there can be no doubt that Alfred Hennessy survived the Year of Disappearances by at least ten years.

16.    Archibald Phillips Army Staff Sergeant Royal Army Service Corps I have established from his military Service Pension records available on Ancestry.co.uk  that this man is Archibald Phillips who was born in Cork in 1876 and who died in 1927 having retired from the Royal Army Service Corps to 103, North Main Street, Youghal in January 1920. He married Sarah Doyle on Cork in 1905 and then moved to Dublin and Belfast where other children were born. He and Sarah are buried in St.Mary’s Church, Youghal along with their daughter Lydia who passed away in 1904.

17.    George Storey (sic) Lieutenant Royal Dublin Fusiliers This is either a misreading of the original text by Murphy or a misprint in his book. The Freemason records show that the second name is actually Stoney. This was in fact Lieutenant George Stoney of the Dublin Fusiliers who fought in and survived the first assault at Gallipoli. Extracted from the Irish freemason records online.

18.    Charles Wolfe Merchant According to Murphy (p. 281) this man was struck off the list of Freemasons in 1922. He was a Pawnbroker. Charles Wolfe died in 1955. His youngest son Charles William Wolfe was the Dean of Cashel and Emly between 1963 and 1971. His family history is available on the internet and maintained by Gary Achenson. In correspondence with me his Great-grandson Gary Achenson writes 'I have a few pieces of information on Charles William Wolfe. Firstly, his wife Martha Rose died in Cork in 1934. Guy's Directory for 1945 has the pawnbroking business at 16 Lavitts Quay, trading still under Charles' late father's name - A. Wolfe & Co. (My Great-Great Grandfather Abraham Jennings Wolfe-1840-1888). The Irish Times has Charles' death notice - "WOLFE - July 27 1955, at a Dublin nursing home, Charles William Wolfe, late of Cork and Termonfeckin. Funeral strictly private." By the 1950s all his children and their families had left Cork. Most were living in Dublin so if Charles needed care late in life, it makes sense that he would have been moved there. He retired to Termonfeckin and is buried there in St Fechin's churchyard according to the local history society View on www.termonfeckinhis... His gravestone reads "WOLFE Charles William Wolfe who died July 26th 1955 aged 79 years. Peace perfect peace. (Originally from London, Charles Wolfe lived his later years in Termonfeckin in a house adjacent to Colm Patton’s pub.) (506).[18]

19.   Fredrick W. D. Leonard was the only member of Lodge 8 not accounted for by Gerard Murphy.  He was not a member of the supposedly targeted Lodge 71. This is, in fact, William Frederick Devereaux Leonard who was an officer of HM Customs and Excise living in Monkstown, Co. Cork in 1911 along with his wife and a servant. According to his marriage certificate he was living at Queenstown when he married Eileen Eva Julian in St. Luke’s Church in Cork on 28 October 1910. He was still in his post according to Guys Almanac in 1921 so presumably would have left when the British did as a member of His Majesty’s Customs & Excise. He was born in Bandon in 1883 and this is confirmed by his birth and marriage certificates which establishes his father as Alfred Richard.  His daughter who was born in Cork on 25 March 1914 married into the Peerage in 1948 according to the Peerage.com and she died in 2003.[19] I have now confirmed that he died in Bristol in 1954.[20] He gave his name as William Fredrick Devereaux Leonard when he joined St. Patrick’s Lodge 8 on 10 February 1920 according to the Lodge Declarations Book held in the Cork City and County Archives. He was living in Maglin, Ballincollig at the time. He attended only two meetings of the lodge: on 13 April 1920 and on 8 February 1921.[21] Fredrick W. D. Leonard (W. F. D. is crossed out) who is recorded in the main Freemason records is the same person as he joined the same lodge on the same day.[22]

20.   Edward G. Owens.  I have confirmed that the Worshipful Master of Lodge 95 beginning in January 1915 was Edward W. Owens and not Edward G. Owens as transcribed by Gerard Murphy in The Year of Disappearances. According to the Register of members and payments Edward W. Owens lived at ‘Myrtleville’ Southern Road, Cork.[23] Edward W. Owens is recorded as living on Southern Road throughout this period and he was a Bank Clerk and a member of the Church of Ireland. In 1901, he had been a commercial clerk in a Brass foundry while still living a Southern Road. Edward W. Owens died in 1945 and was living in the same house on Southern Road.  He stops attending the Lodge on 1 November 1921 after a long gap back to 4 January 1916

21.   William B. Beamish: Gerard Murphy correctly identified William B. Beamish as William Bernard Beamish without supporting evidence other than he was an insurance agent on the South Mall. William Henry Beamish was also a member of Lodge 71 with an office on South Mall and it appeared very tentatively to me more likely that this might be the individual. If it was then he had survived. However, William Bernard Beamish attended meetings of Lodge 95 as a visitor from Lodge 71 on 15 November 1915, 4 January 1916 and 1 Jan 1919 according to the attendance register. Yet, he is not recorded as attending any meetings of Lodge 71 during this period. This confirms his identity over that of William Henry who did attend Lodge 71 meetings. I have now established, beyond doubt, that William Bernard Beamish died in Skibbereen on 8 April 1926 as reported in his death notice in the Cork Examiner on 10 April 1926. According to the Southern Star of 10 April 1926 he had been visiting his brother and sister when he took ill. He funeral service was in the Methodist Church and he was buried in the family plot in Aughadown.  His death certificate misleadingly states that he was a farmer but the Southern Star (P.5: The late Mr. Beamish) states that ‘he held a very responsible position in the Insurance business in Cork City’. His wife’s death certificate also states he was an insurance agent. She died on 7 July 1936 and her death notice in the Cork Examiner on 8 July states the funeral service was in St. Peters and that she lived on Church Lane. According to the death notice her husband William Bernard was ‘late of Skibbereen’. As she left a will then it is possible that there is also a will or administration papers for him but there is no record of this either.[24]

22.    Walter Roberts is recorded as a dentist on the Freemason register. A Walter Roberts Mechanical Dentist, aged 18, was living on Bloomfield Avenue Wood Quay Dublin in 1911 according to the census. How many Church of Ireland dentists called Walter Roberts were in Ireland in this period? The answer unsurprisingly is one of any religion. Is it wildly speculative to suggest that this is the same person? Murphy suggests that he might have come to Cork but if he did he forgot to advertise in Guy’s Directory like the rest of the city dentists for any of the years I checked. Incidentally, a Walter Roberts who was a dentist died in the [Protestant] Meath Hospital Dublin of cardiac arrest in 1934, aged 41, according to Irish Genealogy but of course it couldn’t possibly be him, could it? After all, the 18-year old Walter Roberts of 1911 would have been 41 in 1934.[25]

23.    Lewis B. Jordan Lieutenant of Payments Army: A Lewis Ben Jordan had attempted to sign up in 1914 but had been rejected on medical grounds. He had previously been a member of the reserve.  There are no other records to assist in identifying him.  Lewis Ben Jordan National Archive Kew Record This man possibly died in Surrey in 1939 in the UK BMD records Lewis B. Jordan death record on Ancestry.co.uk

24    William Highet Engineer: Insufficient information: For the avoidance of any doubt, the only sure way to trace a soldier or sailor’s career over time is to track it via the Army or Navy lists and in the UK National Archives where possible. The full set of both lists are in the Imperial War Museum. William, Highet was a Royal Navy Engineer who retired in 1915 according to the London Gazette. William Highet had become a Chief Engineer by the time of his retirement. He was the only Willam Highet in the British Navy and remained on the Navy List until, at least, 1920. According to the Freemason records in Dublin he re-joined the Cork 71 branch in 1920. Presumably, then he was in Cork at that time. Yet there is no other record of his comings and goings in 1920 so it is not possible to say with certainty what happened to him. There is no other record of him in the city at any time. Another William Highet (Presbyterian) was lodged in Cork in 1901. It is unlikely that the Engineer is this man as he was 56 at this time and would not have been a Freemason.  My research leads me to believe that he probably died in Scotland in 1927 though as with any entry with a doubt it is not confirmed.

25.     Stanley Hunt:: Insufficient information: He is misnamed in the 1911 census as Stanley Hand. He definitely lived on the ‘Old’ Blackrock Road and was the manager of McMullen’s Mills. He was on a spy-list in Florrie O’Donoghue’s papers according to Murphy (p.282). Guy's Almanac shows that he lived at number 2 Hillsboro Place and the census shows had married Edith less than a year before the census of 1911. She was also English. Ten years earlier he was living with the McLennon family in Alpine Terrace near Victoria Barracks. Stanley Alfred Hunt married an Edith Hooper in Dursley Glostester in 1911 according to the UK Birth, Deaths and Marriages records. In fact, he had resigned from the Fremasons in 1913. Stanley A. Hunt joined the Freemasons Concord Lodge on 2.2.1910 and resigned in 1913. He was struck off 9 years later in 1925 http://wiz2.ancestry.co.uk/Records/LIHP_Reg~Records/a29e3878-ed74-4b50-a1c0-5d574978f1d1#/ImageView He was born in Gloucester in England but this is also mis-transcribed in their online census. His Irish census returns are here http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai001886533/ www.census.nationalarchives.ie/reels/nai000510927/

It is a fact that his neighbours and co-religious James and Edward Blemens, for example, were kidnapped and shot as spies in November 1920 and it is reasonable to accept that he may have been abducted and shot. However, there is no evidence to support this, either way, and until there is then anything we suggest is entirely speculation. There is no provable record of him or his wife after his mention in Guy’s Almanac in 1921 though there are some matching couples in the UK records.

26.       John Cottrell: Insufficient information: Accountant See also Murphy P.282.  A J. Cottrell attended Lodge 95 as a visitor from Lodge 71 on 26 November 1918 and 7 January 1919. A John Cotttrell Accountant was living with his father at Kilreendowney (Ballyphehane) Cork in 1911. We do not know if this is the same person as the individual on the Freesmason list. A John Cottrell is recorded as having died in the second quarter of 1923 in Cork but this is not this man as he was a Roman Catholic solicitor who died of heart failure. There is no record of him from 1911 onwards in any of the sources so there remains insufficient information about him to form an opinion.

27.       Edward Sparks: Insufficient information: Naval Police Sergeant: It is possible that Henry Edward Sparks of the Quartermasters’’ section who was interned in Holland during the First World War is this man. There is no other Edward Sparks in the Navy.

28.       Stanley Morgan: No Information: Varnish Maker see below

29.       Thomas C. Morgan: No Information: Varnish Maker. There was a Thomas Morgan who was a French Polisher living in Antrim but no way of connecting one with the other.

30.        Thomas J. Benson: No Information: Shop Assistant

31.        Fredrick J. Moffett: No Information: Clerk

32.       John J. Carson: No Information: Navy Chief Petty Officer


Barry Keane © 9 June 2017



[1] Murphy G., 2010, The Year of Disappearances: Political killings in Cork 1921-1922, Dublin, Gill and McMillan p. 281

[2] See Murphy G.,Sing Sing’, Year of Disappearances, blogpost where he discusses ‘the melee of controversy which followed the publication of my book’,.

[3]  Murphy G., 2010, The Year of Disappearances pp. 278-285

[4] Also spelled Corrin

[5] See Irish Genealogy for his marriage certificate: Ancestry.com for the London electoral rolls and UK Free Birth Marriage & Death records to trace this man.

[6] email from Pamela Black to Barry Keane 19 July 2014

[7]  However publishing lists without any context is a waste of time. For example Murphy’s November 2014 list of people who disappeared includes 15 individuals whose bodies were subsequently reburied shortly after the War of Independence and Civil War ended. He also includes the Hornibrook family in Cork Number 1 Brigade when it is known that they were killed and secretly buried by the Cork Number 3 Brigade. Equally, the first person on his Cork Number 1 list (James Gordon) was identified as a ‘Black & Tan’ who had just left the force which stretches the definition of civilian just a bit. Finally, of the 22 civilians he lists as missing in Cork Number 1 Brigade area a tiny minority happened during his ‘Year of Disappearances’ in 1922.

[8] Cork Examiner, 8 September 1922, Page 5, Col. 1

[10] Alternative facts http://year-of-disappearances.blogspot.co.uk/ ; David Fitzpatrick, Dublin Review of Books, http://www.drb.ie/essays/history-in-a-hurry for example

[11] Murphy G. ‘Year of Disappearances’ p. 325. The correct quote is ‘The aim of the final sections of this book is to look at what happened to Cork Protestants during 1922, which changed them from largely irrelevant players in the fight for independence to having to flee in large numbers in fear of their lives’. And in a conscious or unconscious homage to the late Peter Hart ‘The ghost-like evacuation of these areas of Cork is the biggest single displacement of a city’s population anywhere in the British Isles since the seventeenth century’. In fairness to Murphy he does point out that most of the leaving Protestants were replaced by others of the same faiths. It is not explained why the IRA were murdering certain Protestants and allowing other Protestants to occupy the empty houses.

[12] Gill & McMillan publishers of The Year of Disappearances.

[13] I did not make clear that John Cottrell who died in 1923 was Roman Catholic and have corrected it in version 2. While there may have been an unintended implication that this was the same person in the original phrasing of the post I am more than happy to say that it was not.

[14] ‘And what Ancestry.com tells us is that of the 26 struck off Freemasons from No 71 Lodge nine of them leave no further trace of their existence anywhere after 1922. Some five others can be found living elsewhere, while for the rest we have no record since it was not possible to establish their date of birth with certainty’. Gerard Murphy, Wednesday, 29 April 2015. ‘Florence O’Donoghue, the Freemasons and other Disappearances’, Year of Disappearances Blogpost. The figure for those found elsewhere, or whose existence after Murphy’s Year of Disappearances’ has been established beyond doubt, is 19.

[15] CCCA U645/7 Attendance Register Hibernian Lodge 95; CCCA U645/16 Attendance Dues Hibernian Lodge 95

[17] Email from Dr. Bielenberg to author 18 May 2017

[18] email from Gary Achenson October 29th 2014

[19] Hodkinson family The Peerage.com http://www.thepeerage.com/p60950.htm#i609491 The issue here is not establishing that William Fredrick Deveraux Leonard lived in Cork but if Frederick was William. As it has now been established it is not an issue.

[20] UK, Free Births, Marriages & Deaths https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/information.pl?scan=1&r=209306756:8994&d=bmd_1494280030 accessed 23 May 2017;

[21] CCCA U648 Declarations Book St Patrick’s Lodge No. 8. My thanks to Dr. David Butler for access to this information.

[22] Frederick W.D. Leonard St. Patrick’s Lodge 8 Entered Apprentice Degree – 10/2/1920 Fellow Craft Degree – 9/3/1920 Master Mason Degree – 13/4/1920 Certificate issued – 18/7/1921. My thanks to Rebecca Hayes from Irish Freemasons for this information

[23] CCCA U645/7 Attendance Register Hibernian Lodge 95; CCCA U645/16 Attendance Dues Hibernian Lodge 95

[24] Establishing the death of William Bernard Beamish is a classic example of how genealogical research is conducted these days. It begins with the 1911 census which identifies the family and runs into a dead-end if you research William Bernard. However, his wife Martha produces a death certificate and in this she is recorded as being the wife of an insurance agent. This makes it more likely that this is the right family. Her death notice mentions Skibbereen so another search of Irish Genealogy produces two possibilities. One is too old and the other is around the correct age. However, this man is recorded as a farmer. Most researchers would stop at this point but experience shows that many of the details can be wrong. It is essential to check the death notice and this mentioned William Bernard. Knowing that local papers usually carried an obituary or report of the funeral then checking the Southern Star yields the confirmation that this is the correct person. Without the internet and the online sites it would be impossible to follow this trail..

[25] I try to leave out a person’s religion except where it is necessary. Here it is necessary to note the Meath & Adelaide was a Protestant hospital. Today it has been incorporated as part of Tallaght hospital; History of the Adelaide and Meath hospitals http://www.ageandknowledge.ie/arhchx.html accessed 22 May 2017.

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