The shocking story of the Ballyseedy Massacre and its cover-up

Murder, revenge and conspiracy; what exactly happened at Ballyseedy 100 years ago?

Listen | 27:19

This week marks one hundred years since arguably the worst atrocity of the Irish Civil War. Eight men were killed in an horrific blast at a barricade at Ballyseedy Cross, near Tralee in Co. Kerry. The victims were anti-treaty IRA prisoners, and the bomb had been placed there by the Free State authorities.

The men were taken to the site and strapped to the mine in revenge for a separate deadly attack on the National Army the day before. The callous murders were covered up; in a whitewash led by a former member of Michael Collins’ hit squad Paddy O’Daly.

He, a former IRA man himself, had became a senior officer of the National Army. No longer were Irish people being executed by the British. They were now being murdered in the most sadistic way possible by their own fellow countrymen, who’d once fought on the same side.

How do we know? A ninth man, chosen to die that night, was blown clear of the mine and survived. Stephen Fuller was in his eighties before he went public with his harrowing testimony in 1980.


The state has had 43 years to correct the official record and issue an apology to the men’s descendants, but none has been forthcoming.

In this episode of In The News historian, Owen O’Shea, details the shocking story of the Ballyseedy massacre, while Irish Times journalist and author, Ronan McGreevy, asks why the state won’t apologise for the extra-judicial killings carried out in the name of the Irish people.

In a decade of centenaries, why is the discourse around the Civil War so muted compared to the commemorations of the Easter Rising and the War of Independence? And how should the government mark the darkest period of modern Irish history?

Presented by Aideen Finnegan.