66 The Disappeared of the Irish Revolution

On this episode of the show Dr. Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc talks about ‘The Disappeared’ who were killed and secretly buried during the Irish Revolutionary Period.

This is the fruit of a research project carried out by Pádraig himself and Andy Bielenberg of University College Cork into forcible disappearances during the Irish revolution.

Pádraig has previously written extensively on the killing of alleged informers by the IRA and Andy Beilenberg has compiled a register of fatalities in County Cork from 1919-1921.

By their figures 108 people were killed and their bodies disposed of in secret by the IRA and seven by British forces. This is a far larger figure than the sixteen people ‘disappeared’ during the Northern Ireland conflict in the 1970s  and 80s, whose recovery remains a political issue today.

We discuss:

  • Why some victims of political violence were ‘disappeared’
  • Why County Cork accounted for a disproportionate number of the disappeared people.
  • Why the practice was relatively common in the War of Independence but not a feature of the Civil War.
  • How reliable oral traditions and rumours are as to the presence of these unmarked graves.

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  1. Hi there,

    Really interesting episode and a topic very close to my heart – I believe my great-grandfather David NAGLE is one of your 108.

    A postman (and former policeman), he was taken from the house in Cork one night by ‘The Boys’ and never seen again.

    I’d be extremely grateful if you could share any further details you have about him.

    Kind regards,

    Andy Tyne

  2. Hello Andy,

    Many thanks for your comment

    David Nagle was indeed one of the 108 “disappeared” included in our study.

    My research partner Dr. Andy Bielenberg of UCC had previously published the following summary of his abduction and execution:


    According to Andy’s research your great grandfather was buried at Allan’s Grove, Clashanure, Ovens, Co. Cork.

    The British government’s Irish Compensation Commission recorded your grandfather as “Agreed to accept as a British liability” which may be an indication that he had assisted the British forces. The Comission awarded his next of kin £1,400 in compensation.

    I hope this information is of some use to you.

    Did you see our recent piece in the Irish Examiner:

    As you can see we were trying to get images of each of the 108 “disappeared”. By any chance would you have a photograph of your grandfather? I have been searching for some time but never came across one in the newspapers or the archives.

    If you want to discuss further you can reach me on padraigoruairc@gmail.com

    Many thanks and best regards
    Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc

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