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corisande

Execution of Tomothy Quinlisk

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corisande

I tried adding Quinlisk to a POW thread here without prodding anyone to respond, so I'll try under Ireland!

Timothy Quinlisk was a British soldier who joined Casements Irish Brigade, and became the number 2 NCO, Quartermaster Sergeant

He was released "without prejudge" after the war, and eventually returned to Ireland, became a British double agent, and was executed as a British spy by the Cork Brigade of the IRA in 1920. I suspect, but cannot prove, there may be a link between the Black & Tans murdering Thomas McCurtain, Lord Mayor of Cork and prominent IRA member, which was only a month after Quinlisk's execution in Cork.

I have found out a lot more about his execution from a thread I started on Rootschat

I have a full page on the life and times of Timothy Quinlisk here:- My web page on Quinlisk has been updated and includes the tale of his execution

If anyone can add anything, please add the info. These things can sometimes be a bit delicate in Ireland, so feel free to PM me if you do not want to add to the thread.

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Muerrisch

I would call it murder ...... the execution of a legal sentence of death is the prerogative of the state, surely?

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corisande

Those were difficult times in Ireland.

The "state" in the form of the Black and Tans shot Thomas McCurtain in his his house in front of his wife, a month later - no trial. And some months after that the Ira shot a police inspector, was was believed to have shot McCurtain - no trial.

However if we get bogged down is discussions as to who "murdered" who, then this thread on Quinlisk will degenerate into one side v another side of the situation in Ireland

If you want to have that discussion, could I suggest you start a separate thread on that, I am trying to find out about Quinlisk

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archangel9

Corisande,

I read you web page on Quinlisk with interest. Also the page on the Irish Brigade members. If I come across anything that might be of interest I will certainly update you.

Cheers.

John

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corisande

Thanks

It is difficult getting information on them, as neither the British nor the Irish want to acknowledge their existence - though as you know it is slowly changing in Ireland, and I was interested to see that the two authors of the "burning of Cork" wrote an article in their local paper only 2 weeks ago about "the Execution of Quinlisk" (details are in that Rootschat thread I refer to in post 1

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archangel9

Does this add anything -

post-38480-1268311427.jpg

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corisande

Yes

Thanks, I had not seen that.

It is a little at odds with the information that Mick Murphy (the self confessed man who pulled the trigger) but does give another varient on the shooting.

Given Quinlisk was shot on 18th Feb, it did not take long for United Press to have a fairly detailed record of the incident - this is dated 24th Feb.

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archangel9

Taken from the California Evening News of that date. There are similar, but not as detailed accounts, in a couple of other Newspapers of the time. There are quite a few books in my local library that might give more information so I'll have a scan through them on my next visit.

John

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corisande
There are quite a few books in my local library that might give more information so I'll have a scan through them on my next visit

I would be very grateful. There is more likely to be books available in a Connaught library than a Spanish one!

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archangel9
I would be very grateful. There is more likely to be books available in a Connaught library than a Spanish one!

:D Castlebar has a good library. As does Sligo (where I work sometimes).

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Muerrisch
Those were difficult times in Ireland.

The "state" in the form of the Black and Tans shot Thomas McCurtain in his his house in front of his wife, a month later - no trial. And some months after that the Ira shot a police inspector, was was believed to have shot McCurtain - no trial.

However if we get bogged down is discussions as to who "murdered" who, then this thread on Quinlisk will degenerate into one side v another side of the situation in Ireland

If you want to have that discussion, could I suggest you start a separate thread on that, I am trying to find out about Quinlisk

Yes, I understand your point and I will not attempt a hijack, nor do I make judgements about events that I know nothing about.

However, if you had entitled the thread .....'killing' instead of ................'execution', I would not have intervened at all.

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BrendanLee

Hi,

Quinlisk's Dublin Castle File contained a press cutting relating to his death, a couple of telegrams between Dublin and Cork enquiring as to his identity and an RIC witness statement from the man who found his body. Had Quinlisk been a spy for the Castle his file would have contained considerably more information on him. There is also no other mention of Quinn or Quinlisk supplying information to the Castle in the files covering 1899-1921.

The evidence connecting Quinlisk being a Spy for the Castle comes from the person who shot him. A letter found in his pocket informing the authorities of the whereabouts of Michael Collins and another letter recovered in a raid on a mail train. Had these letters not been found then Quinlisk killing would have been murder, it a good job the man who pulled the trigger had the foresight to search him and recover this evidence of him being a spy. If Quinlisk was communicating with Dublin Castle his file would have contained copies of any communications he had with them. In any account of Quinlisk's death I have read there is no mention of these letters ever having been produced.

I think Lieut-General GRUMPY might be nearer the truth. The newspaper account relates how Quinlisk had an altercation with several men in a Hotel bar a few nights before his death. He would not have been the first or last man to meet his death as a result of getting on the wrong side of the IRA. When Quinlisk first arrived in Dublin both the IRA and The Castle took an interest in him but both soon found he was of no use.

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corisande
Had Quinlisk been a spy for the Castle his file would have contained considerably more information on him

I have the Special Branch files, but not necessarily all the files have been released. Governments tend to withhold sensitive information for a longer period.

The very fact that they had that info on file in itself shows that they were interested in Quinlisk - after all there were many people getting shot at this time, and files were not opened on them.

Both the British Army and the IRA both have reasons to put a spin of their own on the matter.

As I said before I am trying to avoid the pointless mulling over the imponderables and I want to find out as much as possible about Quinlisk. Whether he was or was not a double agent is not what I am trying to get here, it is information about his life.

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johnny_doyle

there is a small write up of Michael Quinlisk in Tom Burnell's "Wexford War Dead" with some info from Timothy Quinlisk - small bits from letters from his POW imprisonment reproduced as newspaper clippings. Father Denis is mentioned as being ex RIC Sgt mounted section.

There is a death entry on Ancestryfor a Denis J Quinlisk aged 30 in Westminster, 1934 which looks to be the younger brother. There's a mention in Tom's book re a younger brother (age 11 at the time) pulling a drowning child out of the water in Wexford.

The newspaper clipping in the book mentions him being promoted in the field for personal bravery. Also mentions being a prisoner in Gefangenlagers.

Both appear to have entered France on 13th August 1914 so presumably had enlisted well before the start of WW1.

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corisande
The newspaper clipping in the book mentions him being promoted in the field for personal bravery

You don't have any more om that do you. I had not come across that before.

He was a Corporal, aged 19, when captured, and his brother was 17 when killed. So although they were probably regulars, could not have joined very long before war started.

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johnny_doyle

little extra I'm afraid.

The newspaper clippings have a few errors - putting his age at about 30 and listing him as 8th Royal Irish rather than 2nd.

One passage refers to him as Lance Corporal T A Quinlisk, in action for nearly a year in France. Mentions Michael as a Cpl. Michael is supposed to "have been 18months with the colours". Timothy "taken prisoner on the day prior to that on which he was to receive his promotion". A note to his father that he hoped to "wear the Sergeant's sash".

Letters were obviously getting thru to the family in 1915 and being published in the papers. Wonder if there are more that didn't get published? Might be worth sending a PM to Tom to see if he's any other info that didn't get into the book.

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johnny_doyle

from Jean Prendergast via Facebook

BALLYPHEHANE MURDER – LETTER AND REQUEST – A communication purporting to come from the father of the man ‘Quinlisk’ who was murdered recently at Ballyphehane, in the southern suburbs of the city, is to come before the Cork Board of Guardians’ meeting today. The writer signs himself D. J. Quinlisk, residing at 5 Rose Lane, Waterford, and states that he is the father of the victim of the outrage, Timothy A. Quinlisk. The application relates to the obtaining of permission to exhume the remains, which were interred on the 21st February. The letter had been addressed to the Master of the Workhouse, and the writer intimates his intention of having the body removed by motor car to Waterford for re-interment there. In connection with the matter, it will be remembered that at the last meeting of the Cork Board of Guardians, a resolution was passed asking the military authorities to pay the cost of the burial of the murdered man. The letter above referred to cannot yet be taken as genuine, and it may turn out to be a cruel hoax, as an order for exhumation can only be made by the Lord Lieutenant. (CC 12/3/1920) – CORK UNION – THE BALLYPHEHANE MURDER – Meeting of the Guardians - ….. A letter was received from General Higginson, Victoria Barracks, Cork, stating that he was directed by the G.O.C. to acknowledge the receipt of the master’s letter of the 8th inst, and to inform him that he was not aware of the removal by the military authorities of the remains of a man found shot at Ballyphehane. The military authorities are unable to admit any liability in the case. Mr. J. F. McSwiney [Guardian] asked if the body had been exhumed yet. The Master said no. He had written to the father intimating that the Guardians would have no objection to the exhumation of the remains provided the usual legal requirements were complied with. He had received no reply to that letter. The matter then ended.

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corisande

Thanks for the update, as you say there are probably more letters around.

In theory "Quinlisk" should be an easy name to research, as it is not too common, however I feel that any family today do not want to be associated with his memory. I have tried posting on a Quinlisk family board, and no response.

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archangel9

Corisande,

I spent some time in the library today.

There appears to be some convincing evidence that Quinlisk (alias “Quinn” and “Sullivan”) was indeed a double agent.

“But Quinlisk’s brash, indiscreet behaviour disqualified him from Collins’s inner circle, and by November 1919, still unemployed and living hand to mouth, his life was in freefall. Even Collins’s financial assistance had dried up, fuelling Quinlisk’s anger at the Director of Intelligence. With his feather-light principles and loyalties and a proven track record of betrayal, Quinlisk effortlessly executed another somersault. On 11 November 1919 he wrote to the Castle, claiming that ‘since coming home I have been connected with Sinn Fein. I have decided to tell all I know of that organisation and my information would be of use to the authorities. The scoundrel Michael Collins has treated me scurvily and I now am going to wash my hands of the whole business.”

From “ Michael Collins’s Intelligence War. The struggle between the British and the IRA 1919 - 1921” by Michael T. Foy

While in the U.S.A. in 1920 Harry Boland wrote in his diary –

“25 Jan. Sun. New York. Find welcome visitors with mail from home. Miceal [Michael Collins] sends interesting story from Quinlisk*. Miceal has had wonderful escapes, hope his luck will continue. I give it to Miceal. Great man.”

* “ H. W. Quinlisk, alias Quinn, formerly a corporal in the Royal Irish Regiment who joined Casements Irish Brigade in Germany, acted as a double agent for Collins and Dublin Castle from 11 Nov. 1919 to 18 Feb. 1920, when he was ‘executed’ by volunteers in Cork.

Piaras Beaslai: Michael Collins and the making of a New Ireland. ( 2 vols., Dublin, 1926) i, pp 394 – 401.”

From “Harry Boland’s Irish Revolution.” By David Fitzpatrick.

Michael Collins and the making of a New Ireland – both volumes of this book are in my local library and I’ll have a look as soon as I get time.

You said – “I suspect, but cannot prove, there may be a link between the Black & Tans murdering Thomas McCurtain, Lord Mayor of Cork and prominent IRA member, which was only a month after Quinlisk's execution in Cork.”

You are probably correct -

“The British began to retaliate by using some of the IRA’s tactics. In Cork during recent weeks, for instance, there had been the killings of Quinlisk and a number of constables, as well as the shooting of District Inspector MacDonagh. The police held Tomas MacCurtain responsible; he was both lord mayor of Cork and commander of the local IRA. On the night of 20 March, following the killing of another constable, a group of men with blackened faces forced their way into MacCurtain’s home and shot him dead in front of his wife and daughter.”

From “ Big Fellow, Long Fellow. A Joint Biography of Collins & de Valera” by T. Ryle Dwyer.

There are accounts of Quinlisk’s involvement with both Sinn Fein and Dublin Castle as well as some brief background information in both books -

“ Michael Collins’s Intelligence War. The struggle between the British and the IRA 1919 - 1921” by Michael T. Foy

“ Big Fellow, Long Fellow. A Joint Biography of Collins & de Valera” by T. Ryle Dwyer.

which are too long to transcribe. If you PM your email address I will scan the relevant pages and send them on.

Hope some of this is of help.

John

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corisande

Thanks for all that, I have sent you my email by PM

I don't think there is any doubt that Quinlisk was a double agent.

I had not seen that alias of Sullivan before

Whether his execution was the prime cause or part cause or nothing to do with the Black & Tan execution of McCurtain, I find intriguing, and will keep digging.

The Special Branch files that exist in the public domain appear to have been released under a 75 year rule. I would assume nothing else will be forthcoming until at least 2021 on that front.

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archangel9

I'll scan and send the pages asap, but it might be a day or two. Apparently he used the name Sullivan when he travelled to Cork just before his death, but you will see that in the scans. There is fascinating reading in these volumes.

John

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archangel9

Scans sent. You will see on the notes page of “ Michael Collins’s Intelligence War. The struggle between the British and the IRA 1919 - 1921” by Michael T. Foy, that there is reference to "Allegiance" by Brennan, Robert., this too is in my local library and I'll take a look when I get a chance. This book and "Michael Collins and the making of a New Ireland" are both reference books only so I won't be able to take them out.

John

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corisande

Thanks for the scans, just back after a heavy lunch, so I will get stuck into them now.

It is a strange world that of agent, double agent, and turned double agent and so on

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corisande

Having read those scans, there is not much doubt that the IRA set a trap for Quinlisk.

The fact that the IRA had agents in Dublin Castle, passing on information seems to have occurred fairly early on. And of course was seen in the Cairo Gang murders of 21 Nov 1920, some 9 months after Quinlisk was killed, came about from IRA agents in Dublin castle passing on information.

From those scans it appears that Quinlisk was about the first of the British agents to be killed.

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corisande

And if I could point those with knowledge of Ireland at another thread I have on the Irish Brigade.

And in particular Jeremiah O'Callaghan. I am trying to see if I can find out any more about the strange events surrounding his death

Jeremiah O'Callaghan was born Mallow 1892, served in Royal Irish Regt, was captured and joined Casement's Irish Brigade (along with his brother Michael). I have a page on Jeremiah O'Callaghan here.

He had various adventures in Germany before returning to Ireland in 1922

Jeremiah O'Callaghan died in Mallow on 27 Aug 1922. (Registration date - quarter and year: Jul - Sep 1922)

A newspaper report states he was accidentally shot in the head by a solider of the Free State Army who was cleaning his rifle. The Irish Ministry of Defence paid Jeremiah's wife Katherina his wages as a Free State private soldier up to the day he died (so Jeremiah was a Free State Soldier too) , and also £50 compensation, for the 'accident' which caused his death. They report he was out after curfew,and was arrested and taken to the Mallow barracks,which is where he was killed. Apparently Sgt Major Keogh believed that Jeremiah had been singing rebel songs while drunk, he had decided to leave the Free State army and switch sides.

Jeremiah's son Andreas was hit by a wall of silence when he went to Mallow in 1938, the family would not see him. Andrea's grand-daughter has been to Mallow and seen the O'Callaghan plot, but nobody would speak about anything from the past.

Can anyone help me here with any more on what happened in Mallow in 1922.

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