War of Independence hero honoured with posthumous award in Cork

Joe Murphy died in Cork Gaol after 76 days on hunger strike in 1920

Henry Delaney with family members accepting Service Medal awarded posthumously to his uncle Irish Volunteer Joe Murphy.

Henry Delaney with family members accepting Service Medal awarded posthumously to his uncle Irish Volunteer Joe Murphy.

 

A War of Independence hero who died on hunger strike in Cork has been posthumously awarded a Service Medal.

US born member of the Irish Volunteers, Joe Murphy died at the age of 25 in Cork Gaol on October 25th, 1920 after spending 76 days on hunger strike as part of a hunger strike protest by a group of Irish Volunteers including Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney.

On Thursday, Mr Murphy was honoured at Cork City Hall when MacSwiney’s successor, Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn presented a Service Medal (1917- 1921) to Mr Murphy’s nephew, Henry Delaney (89). Over 60 members of the Murphy family attended the ceremony.

Presenting the service medal on behalf of the Minister for Defence, Paul Kehoe, Cllr Finn said Mr Murphy was almost a forgotten local hero in the fight for Irish freedom even though a road is named after him in Ballyphehane in Cork.

“Many of us in the Ballyphehane area are constantly reminded of him as his name is forever etched on the streetscape of the city, but his death on hunger strike only hours after that of Lord Mayor Terence MacSwiney was largely overshadowed by the death of Cork’s First Citizen,” he said.

“That he is finally being rewarded with an official service medal of honour is just and right and credit to his family for pursuing it for almost a century. It means his memory and place in history will live on even more.”

Henry Delaney’s daughter, Shirley Kelleher said her granduncle, who lived on Pouladuff Road on Cork’s Southside, joined the Irish Volunteers as a young man in 1917 and was involved in several IRA actions but was arrested by the British in July 1920 and imprisoned.

She said the family had campaigned as far back as 1923 for a posthumous Service Medal without success. She paid tribute to Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe for awarding the medal and to Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn.

“I am so proud, delighted that after all these years that Joe Murphy, a local hero, is now being recognised on a national scale. He was an ordinary man who made an extraordinary sacrifice that we continue to honour and celebrate.”