Constable James Duffy, Royal Irish
Nationalist and Leinster Times.
9th April 1921.
Carlow R.I.C. Constable killed.
Civilian Seriously Wounded.
On Sunday night at about 8.30 p.m.
(Summer Time), Constable James Duffy, Royal Irish Constabulary,
Carlow, was shot dead between the Mall and Killeshin, Queen's County,
about two miles from Carlow.
Henry James, Graiguecullen, who was with
the constable was rather seriously wounded. The only source of
information, of course, is Henry James himself.
It appears that the two men were out
walking on Sunday evening, and finally went into Mr Fitzpatrick's
licensed premises to have a drink. Then they left, evidently intending
to be back in Carlow before the Curfew hour.
At about a quarter of a mile on the
Carlow side of Fitzpatricks they were held up by three armed men who
had been sitting in the hedge. Two of them fired at Constable Duffy,
and the third attacked Henry James.
Several shots were fired. Both men were
hit, Henry James receiving two bullets, one in the shoulder, and the
other in the hip.
Both men ran across the roadside fence in
Henry James ran in the direction of a
farmer's house near by, where he got a cap - having lost his own in
the pursuit - and then made his way to another house in the district.
The family had retired to bed. Henry threw gravel at the window and
was immediately admitted by the owner, who promptly went to Carlow
town for Dr. Doyle.
The doctor was quickly on the scene, as
were also a party of military soldiers.
The wounded man, Henry James, was of
course unaware of his companion's fate or whereabouts, but stated that
while he was escaping across the fields he heard about ten more shots
in quick succession.
The military proceeded to search for the
missing constable and returned to the house about 1.30 a.m., having
failed to find him.
Henry James was removed to the military
barracks in Carlow, and subsequently conveyed to the military hospital
at the Curragh Camp.
following report was issued by Dublin Castle on Monday:-
"Constable James Duffy, Carlow, whilst
out walking on Sunday night near Killeshin was fired on. Henry James,
a civilian, who was with him, was wounded in the hip by the bullet
intended for the constable"
"Yesterday morning the dead body of
Constable Duffy was found in a ploughed field about half a mile from
the place he had been fired on.
He was, apparently trying to make his
escape from the first fire when he was followed and killed. There was
a large number of bullet wounds on his body and head.
On Thursday morning the military funeral
of the late Constable Duffy took place.
both Masses in the Cathedral that morning the Clergy intimated that
they were asked by the military authorities to announce that all
business places in the town should close from 10 a.m. to 12oc, noon.
Prayers were asked for the repose of the
soul of Constable Duffy at each Mass.
Since coming to Carlow, he had been a
frequent attendant at his religious duties and received Holy Communion
in the Cathedral on Sunday morning, the day he was shot.
All shops, factories, etc., closed down
at 10 a.m.
Shortly after 11oc the funeral procession
commenced from the Military Barracks, the route being Barrack Street,
Tullow Street, Dublin Street, Dublin Road to the Railway Station,
where the remains were entrained for Kingsbridge and thence to the
family burial ground in Counrty Monaghan.
There was a large concourse of people
from the town and district in attendance.
A large force of Royal Irish Constabulary
marched before and after the motor hearse, on which was the coffin,
draped in the Union Jack.
The rear was made up of the Carlow
members of the "Comrades of the Great War" under the command of Col.
Browne - Clayton, D.S.O.
chief mourners were the deceased's father, Francis Duffy and Miss
Rev. A. Lynam, Adm. and Rev. J. Killian, C.C. walked after the hearse.
The last prayers for the dead were said
at the Military Barracks and at the Railway Station by Rev Lynam and
wreaths were placed on the coffin - R.I.P.
Military Inquest In Carlow.
At the Carlow Military Barracks on
Wednesday a Military Court of Inquiry was held concerning the death of
Constable James Duffy, whose dead body was found in a ploughed field
near Killeshin on Monday morning.
Constable James Duffy had joined the
Royal Irish Constabluary on December 28th 1920, and had been in the
British army - Royal Garrison Artillery - in which he held the rank of
Sergeant, and fought during the Great War and received the military
He was aged 30 in January last, and was
The first witness sworn was the dead
constable's father, Francis Duffy, a small farmer and horse dealer
from Tonniscoffey, County Monaghan, who identified the body as that of
his son James Duffy.
He had not seen his son since January,
when he joined the R.I.C.
A police witness stated that James Duffy
came to Carlow on January 19th last and was stationed in Carlow up to
On Sunday evening April 3rd, he granted
James Duffy leave of absence from 6.30 till 9 p.m.. He did not see him
again until he saw his dead body at 7.30 a.m. on Monday, April 4th,
being brought to Carlow Barracks on a tender.
They had been searching all night for the
Another witness said that on Sunday
evening, April 3rd, he was acting as Barrack Orderly. At 6.30 p.m.
Constable Duffy reported to him that he was leaving the barrack. He
was dressed in civilian clothes. He was then in good health.
answer to a question, the witness stated that he did not know if
Constable Duffy was armed or not.
[Note added in 2010; In 1972 I
interviewed one of the men who was involved in the killing of James
Duffy, he confirmed to me that Constable Duffy was unarmed.]
A military officer told the inquest that
on the morning of the 4th of April he found a body lying in a ploughed
field, about 800 yards from the main road, about a mile from Killeshin
Chapel, the body viewed by the court was the one he found.
Another constable told how he found the
bullet cases (produced) on the road. There were thirteen found. They
were found near the milestone between Kileshin and Mr Fitzpatrick's
One lot of four was found first and
another lot about 100 yards further on.
They were Belgian revolver cartridges,
marked with letters and the number 450, and made in Liege.
Medical evidence was that there were
three bullet wounds on the face; another wound on the back of the head
- in the centre ; two bullet wounds in the right buttock ; two bullet
wounds in the left buttock ; one bullet wound in the left side,
opposite the heart. One wound on the chin showed that the bullet was
fired at very close quarters as the edges of the wound were singed.
The cause of death was shock due to
The Court then adjourned to the Curragh
for the purpose of taking the evidence of the chief witness, Henry
James. The verdict will be announced in due course.
Source: Michael Purcell