Cllr McCarthy: Information Sought on MacCurtain Jury Members of 1920

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy is seeking information from families with connections to the jury on Tomás MacCurtain’s Inquest, who may still live in the Douglas area or in the south east of the city. One hundred years ago, the Tomás MacCurtain inquest was the most significant inquiry of its kind ever held in Cork City. The verdict, which was given on 17 April 1920, was the most startling ever pronounced by a coroner’s jury in the British Empire. Cllr McCarthy noted: “Apart from the verdict there are many voices in the 70,000 word transcript of the inquest, which I recently compiled with news editor John O’Mahony and the Irish Examiner to create the publication Witness to Murder. The voices of the 90 interviewees are a very important part of the inquest but so also was the work of the chair Coroner James McCabe and his jury”.

Cllr McCarthy continued: “Whilst researching the proceedings of the 14 sessions of the inquest you can read how Coroner James McCabe tried to remain calm remain and thorough, in what was a raw and emotional time inside the inquest’s location at the old City Hall and outside in a city, which was unstable with tit for tat attacks by the IRA and the growing swathes of Black and Tan auxiliaries in the city. James McCabe handled all interviews of witnesses, solicitors and police officials alike with calmness, dignity and courtesy. He was always helpful and courteous to the journalists present too and was held in high esteem amongst its members”.

At the conclusion of the Inquest of Tomás MacCurtain on 17 April 1920, Chairman Coroner James McCabe thanked the jury for the great care and attention they had given the various witness interviews. The 14-man jury comprised: William J Barry (foreman), Daniel Barrett, Richard Barrett, Michael J Grace, David Hennessy, Harry Loreton, Patrick McGrath, Melville McWilliams, Florence O’Donoghue, Peter O’Donovan, Jeremiah O’Callaghan, Thomas O’Shaughnessy, Tadgh O’Sullivan and Pádraig O’Sullivan.

With the passing of time, the memory of several of the latter members has disappeared. Through searching through obituaries, I have constructed some biographical information on the jury members. I have some leads that some of whom I am researching once lived in the south east of the city in the Douglas area or in the south east of the city. There may be families who still remember them. In particular I am some seeking information on the following jury members whose memory has been forgotten – the foremanWilliam J Barry, Daniel Barrett , Michael J Grace, David Hennessy, Harry Loreton, Melville McWilliams, Peter O’Donovan, Jeremiah O’Callaghan, and Thomas O’Shaughnessy. I can be contacted at 087 655 33 89 or at Witness to Murder, The Inquest of Tomás MacCurtain (2020, Irish Examiner) is also available to purchase at