Óglach Thomas Murphy, aged 22, F Company, 6th Battalion, Dublin Brigade, Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Óglach Thomas Murphy, aged 22.

Murdered in his bed by Black and Tans at ‘The Hotel’, Foxrock Village, on this day 1921.

At the time of his death, Thomas or ‘Tommy’ Murphy, a popular young uilleann-piper, was one of a number of young men active with the local IRA company, a unit made up of men from the Deansgrange, Cornelscourt, Cabinteely and Foxrock districts. By the summer of 1921, several of it’s members had been forced ‘on the run’ and began operating as a full-time ‘flying column’, sleeping rough in stables and sheds and harassing crown forces at any opportunity that presented itself.

Attacks on the local RIC barracks at Cabinteely were numerous. In the dead of night, Volunteers, acting under cover of darkness, would make their way to the village, where they would creep along the empty streets, taking up positions before subjecting the barracks to a sustained attack using rifles and home-made bombs. Just weeks before his death, Thomas Murphy, dressed in a chauffeur’s uniform in order to give the appearance of a British officer, had driven a car at top speed past the barracks while the car’s other two occupants lobbed bombs at the Black and Tan sentries posted outside.

On May 13th, local Volunteer Charles ‘Rodney’ Murphy (no relation) of Deansgrange, scaled a tree in the Brennanstown Road area, using his elevated position overlooking the barracks to snipe at two Black and Tans tending to the gardens in the yard out back. Constable Albert Edward Skeats, a Black and Tan recruit from London, was hit behind the ear and rushed to a hospital in the city, where he lay critically ill. He eventually succumbed to his injuries on May 28th. The night after his death, a party of Tans and RIC returning to their barracks were ambushed at Monaloe cross-roads by Volunteers Jackie Nolan, John Merriman and Billy Fitzgibbon. During a brisk gunfight, one constable was wounded before the Volunteers made their escape across fields.

With one of their number dead and another now seriously injured, tensions inside Cabinteely barracks had reached boiling point. Just before three o’clock in the morning, a party of five Tans, faces blackened with shoe polish, made their way along Brennanstown Road to Foxrock, where they stopped at ‘The Hotel’, a large tenement building that once stood in the centre of the village. It was here that Volunteer Thomas Murphy resided along with his widowed mother and four sisters. As the building was home to several families, the front door was left open, enabling the Tans to make their way inside unnoticed. They then quietly made their way to Thomas’ room before bursting through his bedroom door, waking the startled man from his sleep. One of the intruders asked if he was Thomas Murphy, and when he replied that he was, a shot was fired, hitting the young man through his head, the bullet passing through the wall into the adjacent room. As the intruders left, Thomas’ mother and sisters rushed into the room to find their son in a collapsed state. Despite the best efforts of a local doctor, Thomas died where he lay several hours later.

On June 1st, Thomas’ remains were buried at Deansgrange Cemetery following a military enquiry. In a large funeral cortege, members of the Dublin and South Eastern Railway Company, where Thomas worked as a porter, marched in a body after the hearse. Numerous wreaths were placed over the coffin, which was wrapped in a tricolour flag. Thomas’ IRA comrades supplied a guard of honour and firing party. Three volleys of shots were fired as the coffin was lowered into the grave, before men and arms managed to get safely out of the cemetery through a cordon of British military.

With many thanks to: Sean Larkin, South Derry.

Oglach Thomas McElwee 30/11/1957 – 8/8/1981 Died after 63 days on Hunger-Strike RIP


Belfast Nga

Thomas Mc Ilwee died today 32 years ago, he was a young man of 23 years.

Thomas McElwee

Thomas McElwee, the fifth of twelve children, was born on November 30th, 1957, into the small, whitewashed home built by his father, along the Tamlaghtduff Road in the parish of Bellaghy.Jim and Alice McElwee married in 1950 and had twelve children, Kathleen, Mary, Bernadette, Annie, Enda, Thomas, Benedict, Joseph, Nora, Pauline, Majella and the youngest James.

Tom McElwee went to St Mary’s primary in Bellaghy, and then to Clady intermediate, three miles away.Thomas got on pretty well at school. From he was eleven Thomas had an intense interest in working with cars and all types of machinery.

As he grew older, his fascination for engines grew stronger. He got his driving licence as soon as he was old enough, and got his own car. He used to travel all over the place to watch stock-car racing.

Thomas joined Fianna Eireann when he was only 14, and subsequently joined the independent unit led by his cousin, Francis Hughes before it was recruited in its entirety, after a period of time, into the IRA.The following few years, before Thomas’ capture in October ‘76, were active ones in the South Derry area.

He had been arrested on a couple of occasions but on October 9th 1976, Kathleen answered the phone, to be told that both their brothers Thomas and Benedict were in the Wavery hospital in Ballymena following a premature bomb explosion in a car in the town, shortly beforehand.In the explosion, Thomas lost his right eye, while two other Bellaghy men were also injured: Colm Scullion losing several toes and Sean McPeake, losing a leg.Benedict McElwee, fortunately, suffered only from shock and superficial burns.

Following the explosion, several other republicans in the town were arrested, later to be charged. These included Dolores O’Neill, from Portglenone, Thomas’ girlfriend, and Ann Bateson, from Toomebridge, both of whom joined the protest in Armagh women’s jail.

Thomas was transferred from the Ballymena hospital to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for emergency surgery to save his remaining eye. It was three weeks, however, before he was able to see at all.One week before Christmas, he and Benedict were charged and sent to Crumlin Road jail.

At their subsequent trial in September 1977, having spent over eight months on remand in Crumlin Road, Thomas was convicted not only of possession of explosives but also for the killing of a woman who accidentally died in a bomb attack elsewhere in Ballymena that day and with which other republicans were also charged.That ‘murder’ conviction was, on appeal, reduced to 20 years for manslaughterand Thomas returned to the blanket protest he had joined immediately after his trial, in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh.

The McElwee family weren’t surprised last December when they discovered that both Thomas and Benedict had joined the thirty strong hunger-strike, as Sean McKenna neared death.

Thomas McElwee died at 11.30am on Saturday, August 8th. THOMAS McELWEE Aged 23 from South Derry. Commenced hunger-strike June 8th, died August 8th after 63 days.

Mary Queen of the Gael, intercede for the souls of all our Patriot Dead. May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, in the mercy of God rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, comrades and friends of Patriot Dead at this time.

Mary Banríon na nGael, intercede do na anamacha na ár dtírghráthóirí léir Dead. Bealtaine a n-anamacha, agus an anamacha de na departed dílis, i an trócaire Dé chuid eile i síochána. Is iad ár smaointe agus paidreacha leis na teaghlaigh, chomrádaithe agus do chairde de Tírghrá ag

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