Killed in action at Ballintubber - Hugh O'Donnell

The realities of Civil War were brought home on Thursday morning the 7th December 1922, when ‘heavy firing was heard for several hours in the vicinity of Kilfinane’, according to a Press Association report published two days later. At the end of the battle, 21 year old Anti-Treaty Volunteer Hugh O’Donnell, of Shanaclough, Oola was dead – shot through the neck as he crossed over a fence. Today the site is commemorated by a memorial cross erected on the initiative of locals some thirty years later.

Further detail

A personal note to these events is added by Mary Fogarty, nee Clancy, of Cush, Kilfinane in her Military Service Pension application – “I set out to establish communication with the remaining members of the Column and on the way found the body of the boy O’Donnell , who had been killed in the fight, and had to arrange for it to be taken into the house of a family named Lee… later I returned and helped to arrange for the funeral of the dead boy“.

[This engagement in the Glenbrohane/Ballintubber district was also noteworthy for resulting in the arrest of Liam Manahan, well-known Volunteer organiser, and Galtee Battalion commander, before the War of Independence].

Hugh O’Donnell is recorded in the 1911 census –

and we find background information through the invaluable MSPC resource – – the second appended document of which carries the assertion by Sean O’Riordan, former East Limerick Brigade C/O, that ‘deceased ran away from home in consequence of his father’s second marriage, and was a member of the East Limerick Flying Column during the Civil War until his death.

His mother’s name on the 1901 birth certificate is Johanna –

which accords with the 1901 census entry; supporting the assumption that  the ‘Kate’ referenced in 1911 is step-mother.

William McCarthy, O/C 1st Battalion East Limerick Brigade, adds ‘I knew this man personally up to the time of my arrest in July 1922… he was a good Volunteer and died in action‘.

In 1963 a memorial was unveiled to Hugh O’Donnell in his native Oola –

with images and further detail on

The following short commemorative video was recorded on Hugh O’Donnell’s centenary, 7th December 2022, at the site of the memorial cross in Ballintubber

The memorial cross, believed to have been erected in the 1950s –

Full-size version.

One hundred years after his death, 30 kilometres from his native place, the memory of Hugh O’Donnell is not forgotten in the district where he joined the ranks of the Civil War fallen.

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