One hundred years ago today, on 21 November 1920, Crown forces – enraged by the assassinations carried out by Michael Collins’s ‘squad’ in Dublin that morning – opened fire on a crowd attending a challenge match between Dublin and Tipperary at Croke Park, killing 14 people. Later that evening, William Cullinane from Lackagh, Co. Galway would become another victim of ‘Bloody Sunday’.
Born on 3 April 1900 at Cahernashilleeny, Lackagh, William ‘Willie’ Cullinane was the son of John Cullinane, a farmer, and his wife Mary (née O’Dea). At the time of Bloody Sunday, Cullinane was a clerical student at All Hallows College, Drumcondra and was living at 103 Lower Baggot Street. That evening, Cullinane attended mass at St Andrew’s Church on Westland Row. When mass was over he emerged onto Lincoln Place where a party of Auxiliaries was conducting a search at gunpoint on a group of males. Cullinane was also searched and when nothing was found the crowd was ordered to disperse. As they fled, the Auxiliaries opened fire and Cullinane was mortally wounded.
Two days later, on 23 November, he died of his wounds at Mercer’s Hospital (now Mercer’s Medical Centre) on Stephen’s Street Lower. His remains were removed to the Carmelite Church, Whitefriar Street, where a requiem mass took place, before being taken to Athenry by train. He was buried at Lackagh Cemetery on 25 November; his headstone reads: “Have mercy on the soul of Willie Cullinane, clerical student, who was shot by Crown forces in Dublin, 21st November 1920.”
Before he died, Cullinane confided in Fr. P. P. O’Dwyer that, when he was ordered to run, a member of the Crown forces had gripped him and shot him in the side. According to the “Connacht Tribune”, he had only been in Dublin a week when ‘Bloody Sunday’ occurred. From strong GAA stock, it is also said that Cullinane was also in attendance at Croke Park earlier on that fateful day.
A military court of inquiry, held in lieu of an inquest, concluded that Cullinane had been “shot by armed forces of the Crown in the execution of their duty”.
This post is part of a series researched and written by Brendan McGowan, Education Officer at Galway City Museum, to mark the Decade of Centenaries. If you have any information, stories or photographs relating to the War of Independence in Galway, please contact Brendan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Register of Births, Deaths & Marriages; Census of Ireland, 1901 & 1911; ‘Croke Park Victims’, Irish Independent, 26 November 1920; ‘Lincoln Place Shooting’, Freeman’s Journal, 26 November 1920; ‘The Death of Mr. Wm. Cullinane’, Connacht Tribune, 27 November 1920; ‘Shot While Escaping’, Irish Independent, 17 December 1920; ‘Dublin Shootings. Official Inquiry’, Cork Examiner, 17 December 1920; Eunan O’Halpin & Daithí Ó Corráin (2020) The Dead of the Revolution, p. 235.
IMAGE: ‘Mr. Wm. Cullinane’, Irish Independent, 26 November 1920