by Manus O’Riordan



The Australian writer Thomas Keneally has achieved world fame as the author of "Schindler’s Ark" and "The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith". It is in his 1998 epic, "The Great Shame - A Story of the Irish in the Old World and the New", that he tells us he is a descendant of the Glenlara Keneallys from the Newmarket area of North-west Cork. He introduces them as follows:

"A Keneally clan of six families were thickly settled in cabins and farmhouses on a townland called Glenlara, 950 acres in extent, 460 acres of which they rented conjointly from the Earl of Cork, as their forebears had been doing since 1603".

One of the author’s own forebears, John Keneally of Glenlara, had been arrested for Fenian activities in 1865 and transported to Australia, before settling in America. The author quotes the Fenian Leader John Devoy on just how significant his role had been:

"In Cork City the Chief Organiser all looked up to was John Keneally … Although the system of County Centres did not exist in the old Organisation, John Keneally practically exercised all the functions of that office for Cork County".

It is therefore not surprising that Thomas Keneally himself has for some time been one of the leaders of the Australian Republican Movement! But if the story of the Keneallys who ended up in Australia and America is of such interest, the fate of the Glenlara Keneallys who remained behind is of no less importance. For they were central to a murder trial that rocked Cork and Kerry in 1894-5, a trial that also formed the backdrop for a parallel trial in respect of "Moonlighting" or agrarian agitation, in Ballingeary.

The Glenlara murder

    "It was at the Cork Assizes my enemies all swore 

That I shot James Donovan and laid him in his gore

The jury found me guilty and the judge to me did say

On the 9th of February ’95 will be your dying day!"

The story of that murder trial is recounted in "The Ballad of John Twiss", although not with total accuracy, for Donovan had not been shot but died from injuries received in a brutal beating. James Donovan, himself an evicted tenant from Ballineen in West Cork, had been driven by the economic circumstances of the time to assume the role of poacher turned gamekeeper. In Christmas 1893 he had come to live in the remote townland of Glenlara, three miles northwest of Newmarket, as a bailiff for the landlord organisation known as the Property Defence Association. He took up residence as caretaker on the holding of John T. Keneally, a tenant who had been evicted two months previously by the Earl of Cork. Donovan was killed on the night of April 21st, 1894 and two men were charged with murder. Their separate trials were held during the Munster Winter Assizes at Cork City’s Temporary Courthouse in Anglesea Street. The first trial was of Keneally’s cousin Eugene O’Keeffe. It commenced on December 6th, 1894 and he was acquitted the following day. The second trial which commenced on January 7th, 1895 was, however, to have quite a different outcome.

"John Twiss from Castleisland, it’s true it is my name

I never did commit a crime why I should deny that same

I own I was a sportsman with spirit light and gay

But paid spies and informers my life they swore away".

The second man charged with what became known as "the Glenlara murder" had received his first jail sentence for agrarian militancy in the Land War of 1879 when he himself was but 19 years of age. As an unrepentant Moonlighter, John Twiss was accordingly a marked man. He was found guilty and sentenced to death on January 9th. The late Pat Lynch, journalist with "The Corkman" wrote his 1982 book "They Hanged John Twiss" as much as a polemic proclaiming Twiss’s innocence as a narrative of the events themselves. It was only in the 1990s, however, in Pat Feeley’s RTE radio programme "The Song and the Story", that Lynch suggested that it had been an unnamed Boherbue pumpsinker of his acquaintance who had actually done the killing. John Twiss, of course, protested his own innocence to the bitter end and in his speech from the dock on January 9th he charged that he had been promised not only his freedom by the police but a bribe of £50 if only he would bear false witness against six members of the Keneally family and their cousin O’Keeffe.

In a talk on the Famine at the Duhallow Heritage Centre in Newmarket in April 1996 and reprinted by the Aubane Historical Society of Millstreet in a book entitled "Spotlights on Irish History", Brendan Clifford of Gneeves, Boherbue recalled a previous talk where he had made a reference to Twiss, assuming his innocence:

"Ned Buckley gives the example of some people that did do well out of the Famine and became substantial property owners. The family that is mentioned in Boherbue is still quite a substantial property-owning family there. But on the basis of my experience the first time I came here, when I mentioned John Twiss and almost caused a disturbance, I don’t think I’ll mention any local names tonight!".

So, even a century later the Twiss case could stir such passions!

"My blessings on the Mayor of Cork and the people there also

In thousands they petitioned, to release me they did go".

In fact the Mayor of Cork, P.J. Meade, set up a Twiss Reprieve Committee whose largest public meeting brought six thousand on to the streets of Cork on January 22nd. But to no avail. "The Ballad of John Twiss" concludes its narrative on February 9th:

"My last hour is approaching, I heard the death bell toll

The hangman he has pinnioned me, I must now give up my soul".

But "the Glenlara murder" for which he sentenced Twiss to death was but one of a series of moonlighting trials covering several counties and held before Lord Chief Baron Palles over a number of weeks during those same Munster Winter Assizes. On January 16th he sentenced Philip Barry to twenty years’ penal servitude for the manslaughter of John Murphy near Newmarket on October 10th, 1894, stating that "the crime only differed from murder by a hair’s breadth" and that "the evidence was quite sufficient to have had the prisoner convicted of murder if the Crown had so framed the incident". What had particularly incensed the Lord Chief Baron was that a "Moonlight Ballad" had been found on the person of one of Barry’s co-defendants, two of whose seven verses ran:

"So now, my boys, don’t you make noise, but silently look on,

Keep your guns free and clear, and ready for the man,

Who is selling you for English gold, as Massey did before;

We’ll have the year of ’98 today in ‘94".

"May the heaven’s sun deny its light, and the earth he treads its fruit,

May the light of day be always night, to that foul, cruel brute,

For the God of heaven will vengeance take, in a dark and lonesome glen,

And he will fall as Carey fell by our national moonlight men".

This, then, was the atmosphere when what were described as "seven men of the farming class" from Ballingeary appeared before that same judge in what "The Cork Examiner" headlined as "The Macroom Moonlighting Case". There were in fact two trials. The omens at the outset were quite good. On December 7th, 1894 the jury found Eugene O’Keeffe not guilty of what "The Cork Examiner" had headlined as "The Newmarket Murder Case". The trial that immediately followed was that of the Ballingeary men on December 8th. But on December 11th that trial collapsed when the jury announced that that there was no possibility of agreement. Whereupon the court rose for the Christmas recess.

The New Year of 1895 told a different story. The first trial scheduled for hearing was that of Twiss in "The Newmarket Murder Case" to be followed immediately by the Ballingeary trial to be followed a few days later by "The Newmarket Manslaughter Case". The Ballingeary men must have felt like the meat in the sandwich. True, theirs was neither a murder nor a manslaughter case, but the prosecution did argue that there was the threat of death involved in the discharge of a firearm and this could have led to the maximum sentence of penal servitude for life. Moreover, the Lord Chief Baron himself in his address to the jury at that first trial had gone way beyond what even the Crown itself had charged when he referred to the Ballingeary incident as "that midnight attempt at murder".

Twiss convicted

What must the Ballingeary men have felt as they entered the dock in the immediate aftermath of it being vacated by Twiss, who had been sentenced to death, not once but twice? In the ritual of donning the black cap and pronouncing the many-worded sentence of death, the Lord Chief Baron had declared the place of execution to be "Her Majesty’s prison in the County of the City of Cork". After Twiss had been removed from the dock the Attorney General reminded the Lord Chief Baron that the prison was in the County, whereupon the latter ordered: "Bring back the prisoner". Once more in the dock he was told; "Twiss, the gaol it appears is in the county of Cork, and not the city, and, therefore, I am obliged to sentence you over again". And so, the grim ritual was repeated until the Lord Chief Baron declared the year of execution to be 1894, the year just passed. Twiss might have had to endure being recalled for a third sentencing were it not for the fact that on this occasion the Attorney-General interrupted the Lord Chief Baron in mid-sentence to ensure correction there and then. The sentence finally completed, Twiss at last left the dock, remarking "They can’t kill any other man".

The Ballingeary Moonlighting Case

If the Lord Chief Baron’s own nerves were frayed, in what state must those of the Ballingeary men have been as they now appeared before that same "hanging judge"? Michael Walsh, Richard Walsh, John Twomey, Timothy Twomey, Cornelius Leary, John Leary and John Ahern were indicted that "they on the night of the 17th or the morning of the 18th of October, 1894, at Inchinossig, in the County of Cork with guns and other offensive weapons and having their faces blackened and partly covered with clothes and thereby disguised, did, with other persons, by name unknown, unlawfully rise, assemble and appear together by night to the terror and alarm of Her Majesty’s subjects. They were also charged with assaulting and injuring the dwelling-house of one Michael Mahony".


The townland of Inchinossig lies just west of Ballingeary on the road to Gougane Barra and Keimaneigh. The lessors for both Inchinossig and the adjacent townland of Tooreenduff were the representatives of James Minhear. The land valuation records from 1862 show the principal tenant farmers in Inchinossig to have been Jeremiah Riordan with 241 acres and Michael Mahony with 90 acres. The former, known locally as Jer Mór Inchinossig, was my great-grandfather. Jer Mór fell into arrears of rent and was evicted in 1885. Shortly afterwards the tenancy was taken up by John Leary, but in 1890 it was divided between John Leary with 174 acres and John Twomey with 58 acres. Michael Mahony continued as before with 90 acres.

In the adjacent townland of Tooreenduff the tenancy of 437 acres was jointly held by James Walsh and his son Richard during the 1860s, before all of it passed on to Richard in 1875. By the time of the 1894 incident, however, Richard Snr. had also passed away and the holding was in a limbo situation, with eviction threatened on his widow Hanora, his sons Richard Jnr. and Michael Walsh, his daughter Margaret, her husband John Twomey and all the other residents of Tooreenduff. These, then, were the principal actors in the drama that unfolded before the court.

Second Trial Evidence

This second trial commenced in the wake of Twiss’s death sentence on Wednesday, January 9th, 1895, with exactly the same judge, prosecution and defence teams. The Attorney General, the McDermot Q.C., together with Matthew Burke Q.C. and J.F. Moriarty B.L. (instructed by H.T. Wright, Crown Solicitor) prosecuted on behalf of the Crown. R.A. Powell B.L. and A.M. Sullivan B.L. (instructed by Maurice Healy) represented the prisoners. As the jury were to find Timothy Twomey, John and Cornelius Leary and John Ahern ‘not guilty’ in this second trial I shall only refer in passing to their case, and the first trial will only be quoted to illustrate where it differed from the second.

Michael Mahony’s daughter Mary was the first to give evidence. She had gone to bed at 10 o’clock on the night of the incident. She was awakened later on by a voice saying in Irish "Michael, come out". She looked out and she saw John Twomey standing outside the door, whereupon she pulled in her head and screeched out that "Johnny Twomey and some other blackguards were outside". She did not know the others. As soon as she screeched, she said, they shot and broke the door. They came up to her father’s room, and one of the men, whom she did not know, and who held a candle in his hand, fired a shot. She leaped out of the window of her own room without her clothes and went over to John Creed’s house. She remained there until her brother Kane came over for her. Her brother was all covered with blood. When she went home she saw her father’s home covered with blood. When she had gone over to Creed’s she told them "the moonlighters" were over at her house but she did not say that Johnny Twomey was there. John Twomey had often spoken to her in the past, but on that night she did not recognise Twomey’s voice.

Her father, Michael Mahony, was the next witness called. He remembered going to bed on the night in question. In the course of the night he heard a voice in Irish saying, "Tell Michael Mahony to come out". He then heard a shot and the door cracking in together. The men then came upstairs, and one of them, who had a candle in his hand, said, "who is going in for Walsh’s land at Tureendhuv". He said that a man, whom he now knew as Michael Walsh, struck witness’s son Kane with a gun on the side of the head. In the scuffle which ensued the handkerchiefs fell off the faces of some of the men, and he said he recognised the two Walshes and Johnny Twomey. A shot was fired and passed close to Kane’s head, and he himself went to leap out of the window of his room when the man with the candle caught him and asked him "was he going in for Tureendhuv" or "was he going to the auction". He also asked witness did he ever land grab before, and witness said not, and that he had nothing to do with Tureendhuv. He asked witness had he a prayer book to swear that he had not. Witness was then struck on the side of the head with the butt of a gun. Witness said he saw the two Learys and John Ahern on the stairs. He stated that the widow Walsh was in possession of the farm at Tureendhuv, where the auction was to be, and the two Walshes were her sons. John Twomey was her son-in-law, and the two Learys were cousins to the Walshes. Ahern, a carpenter by trade, was also a cousin to them. Some time prior to the occurrence witness got "a lift" in a cart from a boy in the Pass of Keimaneigh, and John Ahern said to the boy he should not give "a lift" to a landgrabber. Witness asked who was the landgrabber, and Ahern said, "You are, and you’re a blackguard too". Mahony also maintained that Ahern threatened that he would get the ball before long.

At this second trial Mahony’s evidence was more restrained than at the first and far less colourful. On December 8th, 1894 he had stated that when the front man with blackened face (whom even Mahony himself at no stage ever claimed to identify) first asked : "Who is going in for Tureendhuv at the auction?", he had simultaneously fired a gun into the ceiling. Mahony further charged that at that same moment Richard Walsh made for his son Kane Mahony and aimed a knife at him. Kane knocked him down and Michael Walsh struck Kane with the butt of a gun on the head. His other son Jerry Mahony then struck Michael Walsh, and a general scuffle followed. He further claimed that while Kane was on his knees the man with the black face told him to face the wall, and Michael Walsh then pointed a gun at him and a voice came from the stairs, "Fire!". He claimed that Walsh then fired at Kane, and witness thought he was killed, and he screamed; the man with the blackened face caught him by the shoulder and wheeled him round to the top of the stairs. Michael Walsh then struck him on the arm and the side of the head with a gun and the man then went away. In the second trial, however Mahony never charged that Richard Walsh had attempted to knife his son, nor that his son had been actually lined up against the wall for execution by Michael Walsh.

At the second trial Michael Mahony also took the initiative in cracking a joke at a critical moment. Cross-examined by Mr. Powell – "Are you known in the district as Mr. Wright?", Mahony replied – "I would be always right if I could" (Laughter). "Are you not regarded as the most litigious man in the parish?". "I suppose I am because I am right" (Laugher).

Mahony had here deflected the attempt to associate him with the name of the Crown Solicitor in the case, for the family and firm of T.R. Wright and Sons of Clonakilty were also notorious land agents, resulting in their office being blown up by dynamite in June 1881. The first trial, however, had clearly established Mahony to have been very much at odds with his neighbours and in legal conflict with them, including Jer Mór Inchinossig, going back over a period of 14 years. Cross-examined on that occasion by Mr. Sullivan, Mahony stated that the Learys had him fined £1 for ill-treating a pig, and his son had been fined £5. That had been about two years previously and he had not spoken to them since. He had law with the Walshes about a boy some nine years previously, and he was beaten then. He had law also with Riordan, Hallissey, Mangan, the smith, Galvin, Tobin and Manning, all neighbours of his. He was not beaten by all of them. Further cross-examined, he replied that he was not known by the litigious name of Wright. Whereupon Mr. Sullivan had on that occasion taken the initiative in explaining – "After the eminent Crown Solicitor, my Lord" (Laughter).

Margaret Mahony, who spoke in Irish, and whose evidence had to be interpreted, stated that she was the wife of Michael Mahony and that when one of the men also pointed a gun at her she escaped out the window in her night-dress. Sergeant James Kavanagh stated that on the morning of October 18th he went to Mahony’s house. He was handed a portion of a ramrod and found several grains of shot in the wall about three feet from the ground. The gun he found in John Leary’s house was covered with dust and did not appear to have been recently used. They had a licence to keep the gun. The Walshes had a licence for their gun also; one of the barrels had been recently discharged. There was a grouse, a partridge and a hare in the house, which appeared to have been killed within a day or two. However, he never succeeded in finding the gun to which the broken ramrod belonged. Constable Denis Buckley stated that he arrested Michael Walsh on October 18th. He was riding on a bicycle at that time, as also was the witness himself.

Case For The Defence 

In the defence case Margaret Cronin, a servant to the mother of Michael and Richard Walsh, swore that on October 17th Michael left the home at three o’clock in the afternoon to go shooting, and did not return home that night. Richard went out from the house at six o’clock in the morning, and he also did not return home that night. Michael Buckley, a cousin of the Walshes, stated that on the evening before the occurrence Michael Walsh came to his house on a bicycle and remained there until the following day. His house was about 14 miles from Inchinossig and Walsh could not take his bicycle during the night, as he (witness) locked it up in a barn. Patrick Lucey Jnr., a first cousin of the Walshes, residing about seven miles from the scene of the occurrence, swore that Richard Walsh slept at his house, and in witness’s room, on the night of October 17th. Richard Walsh did not leave the house that night, and witness and he got up in the morning together.

What was present in the first trial but seems to have been absent from the second, was further evidence concerning Michael Walsh’s cycling expertise. The prosecution had argued that even if Walsh had visited Buckely, he had enough time to cycle back to Inchinossig for the moonlighting. Constable Carey said he rode a bicycle from Michael Buckley’s to Michael Mahony’s and he did it in an hour and thirty minutes. Cross-examined by Mr. Sullivan he said the distance was 16 miles and a man would have to be riding for a month before he could ride at the rate of 12 miles an hour. Furthermore, Margaret Cronin told Mr. Sullivan that the bicycle was a new one, Michael Walsh was not an expert rider, and that he was in fact only a learner. She further stated that when the police came to the house on the day after the moonlighting old Mrs. Walsh locked her up in the cow stall, because when she saw the police she thought they were coming to make a seizure. She heard the Walshes in conversation blaming Michael Mahony for taking an evicted farm. In the second trial the jury was also deprived of the humorous touch injected into Patrick Lucey’s evidence a month previously. He had then stated that on the night of October 17th not alone had his first cousin Richard Walsh slept in his house, he had slept in the same bed. A juror – "Are you a married man?". Witness – "Not as yet. I hope I won’t be long so, though" (Laughter).

As the second trial concluded on Friday January 11th, 1895 Mr. Powell addressed the jury on behalf of the prisoners. He said that if the jury were to accept, as the Crown desired, the statement of every witness as gospel because he was a Crown witness, and if they were to reject the statements of the witnesses for the defence, no matter how respectable, then procedure in court was a farce and had better be got rid of, for the word liberty would stink in the nostrils of every rational being. Mr. Burke, Q.C., replied for the Crown. He said the jury were engaged in investigating an organised attack made with the object of terrorising others from doing what the law of the land said they had a perfect right to do, namely, to enter into any contracts they liked, uninfluenced by terrorism or the curtailment of their liberty in any way. The jury should remember that the Mahonys were suspected of having the grazing of the Twomey’s farm.

Summing Up

The Lord Chief Baron, in summing up, said the charge was for an offence peculiar to this country, called a Whiteboy offence, for which special statutes had been passed in consequence of the disturbed state of some parts of Ireland. His Lordship had no desire to make the case worse than it was, and should say he believed the party went there not to kill or murder or maim, but to frighten, and he believed that the shot was fired not because it was arranged that the shot should be fired, but the blood of the party who fired got hot on account of the determined resistance offered by the Mahonys. Having reviewed the evidence, his Lordship said in his opinion the cases against the two Walshes and John Twomey were the strongest of all.


The jury found the other four prisoners ‘not guilty’. They returned a verdict of ‘guilty’ against Michael Walsh, Richard Walsh and John Twomey, but unanimously recommended them to mercy. His Lordship asked on what grounds. The foreman said they believed there was no intention to commit bodily harm, and that it occurred in a moment of excitement. His Lordship – "Yes, I quite agree with that". On being asked by the Clerk of the Peace what they had to say why sentence should not passed on them, the prisoners declared they were as innocent as the child unborn.

The Lord Chief Baron, in passing sentence, said – "Michael Walsh, Richard Walsh and John Twomey, I can only say I am sorry to hear each of you make the declaration you have made, because I am perfectly satisfied that you are guilty … I, however, think it right to say that I agree with the jury that you went there for the purpose of frightening, and not for the purpose of either killing or maiming, and I myself have arrived at the conclusion that the dreadful act of you, Michael Walsh, when you fired at Kane Mahony, that that was done to frighten him and not with the intention of killing him. I do not believe that you intended it. I believe it was an act done for the purpose of preventing him having anything to do with this farm, and I say that because it will explain the sentence I am about to pass, and it would be very different indeed, if I had not arrived at that conclusion. Now I have to tell you in the first place that the maximum punishment for this offence is penal servitude for life, and if I had arrived at the conclusion that there was an intention of taking away life by any of the parties on that occasion I wouldn’t have detracted one day from that maximum punishment … I arrived even on the first trial of the case at the conclusion that there was no intention to take away life. Now, the law considers that each person engaged in an act of this description may be held responsible and punished for every crime committed on the occasion. That is, I could, if I wished, punish you Richard Walsh, and you, John Twomey, for that shot in the same way as I am about to punish Michael Walsh. Well, I won’t take that view, but the more merciful view – to make each person responsible for his own acts, and on looking at the case in the light which is the most merciful light that it can be looked at … I cannot conscientiously avoid passing a heavy sentence upon you, Michael Walsh … I have considered the whole case, and I now sentence you, Michael Walsh, to be kept in penal servitude for a period of five years, and I sentence you, Richard Walsh and John Twomey, to be kept in prison, and to hard labour, each for a period of one calendar year from this day".

In adopting the pose of the all-merciful on this occasion the Lord Chief Baron was being a bit too disingenuous. He himself was either lying through his teeth about his conclusions at the time of the first trial, or, if he had formed such conclusions, he had nonetheless deliberately sought to perpetrate the gravest miscarriage of justice when summing up the case for that jury as "that midnight attempt at murder". On that occasion the Lord Chief Baron was baying for Walsh and Twomey blood, no doubt furious that only four days previously Eugene O’Keeffe had been found not guilty of murder at Glenlara. At the second Ballingeary  trial, however, the Lord Chief Baron was passing sentence on Twomey and the Walshes only two days after he had sentenced John Twiss to death. Perhaps the enormity of that act weighed on his conscience, causing him to pause momentarily in his tracks and show some more consideration for the prisoners before him.

If prosecution and defence were in dispute as to whether or not the prisoners were guilty as charged, no one questioned that the moonlighting incident in Inchinossig had been enacted in the prisoners’ interests, in order to prevent the Walsh and Twomey families being evicted from Tooreenduff. That happy outcome was at least achieved. Following their release from prison, Richie Walsh and his brother-in-law Johnny Twomey were finally able to register the lease of Tooreenduff in 1897. Richie Walsh also went on to marry Maggie Cronin of Gougane Barra, the servant of the widow Walsh who had appeared as a defence witness at both trials. In the process Richie Walsh also became my own great-granduncle, since Maggie was the sister of my great-grandmother Máire, pictured with my great-grandfather Maidhc Mhichíl Creed of Illauninagh in the 1999 Journal.


As for Richie’s brother, known in Ballingeary as Mickey Walsh, he remained an unrepentant Moonlighter. My father’s first cousin Paddy Donnacha Phaid Cronin (the 1999 Journal’s ‘cover-boy’!) tells the story of how Mickey Walsh became a stonemason in prison and was so good at his work that he was given the task of constructing an inside wall during the course of his sentence. One day a warder came to him with an awful predicament – Walsh was to be released the next day, and what were they to do about the unfinished wall? "Leave it as it is", said Mickey. "Sure I’ll be back in again soon and I can finish it then". Which he did!

My father Micheál O’Riordan also has childhood memories from the 1920s of Mickey Walsh visiting the Cork City home on Pope’s Quay of his Ballingeary parents Micheál Snr. and Julia Creed. He recalls a one-eyed man holding up vehicles behind him as he cycled ever so slowly around the city (was it the same historic bike of 1894?). And my father also recalls Mickey Walsh’s answer whenever asked where had he learned the trade of stonemason: "I was apprenticed to Victoria, the bitch!".

Ballingeary's Illiad

When significance did the Inchinossig incident have? In his 1951 poem "Epic" Patrick Kavanagh wrote of incidents in his own County Monaghan:

"I have lived in important places, times

When great events were decided, who owned

That half a rood of rock, a no-man’s land

Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims".

The poet recalled that he was tempted to dismiss the significance of such local history when compared to the events that made the headlines of world history:

"Till Homer’s ghost come whispering to my mind.

He said: I made the Iliad from such

A local row. Gods make their own importance".

Ballingeary’s own great Iliad is, of course, "Cath Chéim an Fhia" in which Máire Bhuí Ní Laoghaire celebrated the 1822 Battle of Keimaneigh. If I might translate as follows her summing-up in the third verse:

"A hundred times may Christ be praised

Foes put to flight, small price we paid

That yet we might pass nights at aise

Midst fun that fight with pride relate".

And so Máire Bhuí’s powerful song, still sung today with such gusto, provided an inspiration for the generations that followed, not least the Walsh –Twomey extended family who were so determined to hold on to their homestead in 1894. It was not off the stones that these followers of "Captain Moonlight" got it; it was off rocks – their Whiteboy ancestors who themselves had followed "Captain Rock" in 1822. The grandfather of Mickey and Richie Walsh, and of Johnny Twomey’s wife Margaret, was the James Walsh listed in Griffith’s Poor Law Valuation of 1852 as holding 437 acres at Tooreenduff from James Minhear. This James Walsh was none other than the Séamus Mór Breathnach who had been a captain of the Rockites at Keimaneigh thirty years previously. Séamus Mór had played the central role in the one fatality inflicted on the Crown forces in that Battle: the exchange of fire and the hand to hand combat which led to the killing of the British soldier John Smith, followed by his initial burial at Tooreenduff.

If Séamus Mór’s grandchildren were to fight off the threat of eviction in 1894, they completed the process of consolidation in the new century. In 1908 Richie Walsh and his brother-in-law Johnny Twomey at last held Torrenduff in fee, thereby putting the final nail in the coffin of landlordism in the shape of the representatives of James Minhear.

And so it was that in the next generation the Walsh and Twomey great-grandchildren of Séamus Mór were in a position to give Tooreenduff not merely local but national significance in the key role it was to play in the War of Independence. Included in the Ballingeary IRA Personnel List of 1921, which was published in the 1998 Journal, are the names of James and Richard Walsh, and John, Liam, Richard and Tadhg Twomey – all of Tooreenduff. In August 1914 Tadhg Twomey had served as Adjutant of the Ballingeary Company of the Irish Volunteers, one of the first to be established outside Dublin. The Ballingeary Volunteers, including Tadhg and Liam Twomey, paraded on Easter Sunday 1916 in expectation of going into action. Moreover, it was in Tooreenduff that Tomás Mac Curtain, Terence Mac Swiney and Bob Hales established their headquarters on Easter Monday before the Rising in the countryside was aborted as a consequence of Eoin Mac Néill’s countermanding order.

During my father’s childhood stays in Tooreenduff he was aware of the sense of presence that Terence Mac Swiney had left there. The Twomey house in particular became known as An Lochta Fada (the long loft) with its capacity to accommodate so many Republicans during those heroic and historic years. (The Lochta Fada is the house with it's gable-end on the roadside at the Twomey farm.) Following Mac Swiney’s release from internment in England in 1917, the future martyred Lord Mayor of Cork and his wife Muriel spent some months in Tooreenduff as a newly married couple. It was there that Muriel finally mastered the Irish language. When I met and corresponded with her in my schoolboy years of the 1960s she told me of her dislike of the English form of her name Muriel, until she learned that its Irish form Muirgheal meant "bright sea". It was therefore as Muirgheal Bean Mhic Suibhne that she signed her letters to me.

Tooreenduff also led the way in the War of Independence. Both Tadhg and Liam Twomey took part in the very first ambush of that War, at Béal a’ Ghleanna, or the Mouth of the Glen, on July 8th, 1918. Liam Twomey would go on to serve in the area’s Active Service Unit or Flying Column throughout that War, culminating in the facing down of Major Montgomery (the subsequent Second World War Field Marshal and Viscount of El Alamein) at Macroom Castle in April 1922. Following that first ambush of July 1918, as described in "Where Mountain Men Have Sown" (1965) by Micheál Ó Súilleabháin, the following escape route had been taken:

"Down Túirínlahard, across the river at Túirín Dubh, and out on the road to Kéimaneigh. Along the road to Kéimaneigh for a short distance, then up the steep road to Richie Walsh’s. If they had come staggering under the weight of bags of gold for Richie, they could not have been more welcome".

But there was to be tragedy as well. Another great-grandson of Séamus Mór, IRA Section Commander Christy Lucey, was murdered by Britain’s Auxiliaries at Tooreenduff on November 10th, 1920 as he sought to warn his Twomey relatives of the impending Black-and-Tan raid. As Ó Súilleabháin related:

"He was not armed … A few weeks later these marauding Auxiliaries were trapped at Kilmichael, a few miles to the south of our area. Seventeen of them were to be killed".

But in the meantime Christy Lucey had experienced the joy of sharing with his cousins Liam and Tadhg Twomey in the ambush and capture of two British military lorries that had passed through the village of Ballingeary on July 27th 1920. And the site of that successful ambush could not have been more appropriate. As Ó Súilleabháin again related:

"Túirín Dubh and Kéimaneigh! It was not surprising that some event of note should happen in these places in our time. It merely repeated what had happened there before, for the spirit of Máire Bhuí lives on in her native Uíbh Laoghaire".

There was indeed a direct link between 1822 and 1920. But it only remained unbroken because in 1894 Johnny Twomey and his brothers-in-law Richie and Mickey Walsh had taken their stand at Tooreenduff and gave notice to all that "We shall not be moved!". Well might each of them have declared with the poet:

"I have lived in important places". They certainly did!

There are many people living today who remember Kane Mahony, his brother Michael and sister Maire living in Inchinossig. They were well liked and lived comfortably with the help of many in the locality particularly their neighbour Michael McCarthy.

(Manus O’Riordan wrote "The War Hero From Morley’s Bridge" in the 1999 Journal. He is Chief Economist with SIPTU, Irelands principal trade union, and ‘a grandson of Ballingeary’.)