Sectarianism in west Cork after the truce
Sir, – Tom Cooper’s letter (August 7th) merits a response. Unfortunately, previous arrangements prevented my attending the West Cork History Festival in Skibbereen, where this issue could have been “put to bed”. It has taken me the past three days to isolate the information that is here published for the first time.
Pace my two friends Dr Andy Bielenberg of the school of history at University College Cork and Prof James Donnelly of the University of Wisconsin; but, as they both know (and Prof Bielenberg has supported) my wife and I have been working for the past six years on a document in the British National Archives, CO 762 (Irish Claims Commission in its various forms). We have 16,000 photographs of the documents and a database which includes a precis of each complaint. I have read every one of them and written that summary.
Briefly, CO 762 was set up to help Protestants, Loyalists and ex-servants of the (British) government who were getting “a hard time” from the patriots in the aftermath of the truce (July 11th, 1921).
In total, there are 3,632 claims. Of those, 850 relate to Co Cork (23 per cent – by a long way the largest number per county). Of those, 458 relate to the Bandon and Lee (west of Ovens) valleys and the west Cork coast to Castletownbere. 12.6 per cent for the least populous part of the county!
Of that 458, I have managed (with the aid of the 1911 Census) to identify one Brethern (Plymouth?), 27 Methodists, two Presbyterians and 294 Church of Ireland (70 per cent) and, I believe that there are many more of the unidentified people who moved out of the area who would also prove to be non-Roman Catholic.
To ask us to believe that there was no sectarianism in west Cork (killings or otherwise) flies in the face of the evidence. – Yours, etc,
Rosscarbery, Co Cork.