Centenary Ceremony for ‘The Blacksmith Volunteer’ in Knocknagoshel on Saturday 2pm

Photograph of Dan Murphy courtesy of Denis Walsh / The North Kerry Advertiser. Commemoration speakers, historian Dr. Tim Horgan and Ballyseedy documentary maker, Pat Butler. ©Photographs: John Reidy

A ceremony to mark the centenary of the murder of Dan Murphy ‘The Blacksmith Volunteer’ will take place this Saturday in Knocknagoshel Village at 2pm.

His nephew Michael Walsh is the chairman of the organising committee and would like to invite anyone who is interested to the event. Included in the ceremony will be the unveiling of a monument dedicated to Dan Murphy.

There will also be an unveiling of a plaque dedicated to the five other local volunteers who lost their lives for Irish freedom and a plaque to the women of Cumann na mBan.

Dr. Tim Horgan and Pat Butler

Guest speakers will include Dr. Tim Horgan, historian and author of ‘Dying For The Cause’ and Pat Butler, director of the documentary Ballyseedy.
Dan, a member of the Irish Republican Army, was wrongly murdered by the Irish Free State Army on March 24th 1923.

He was shot 20 times at the site of a mine explosion at Burke’s Field in Knocknagoshel, where on March 6th 1923 five members of the Free State Army died.

A Free State Party

Determined to capture the volunteers of Knocknagoshel Company, a large Free State party raided Dan’s house at 6am on March 24th.

Dan had been on the run but had arrived back in Knocknagoshel village the previous evening.

He stayed in the family home on the night of March 23rd even though he had received a warning from Free State Army Captain Con Brosnan from Moyvane that both Dan’s and his brother John’s lives were in danger.

The Dublin Guard

He informed a pro-treaty supporter Dave Leahy in the village that the Castleisland based Dublin Guard were determined to kill them and should not be in the village around that time.

Dan was due to go to his sister Bridget’s house in Maugha on the morning of March 24th where at this remote location near Lyreacrompane he would have been safe.

Unfortunately it was too late as that morning both Dan and John were detained and their forge was searched. The Free-Staters found nothing, though there was a large quantity of ammunition hidden in a trough.
Tortured and Interrogated
The brothers were tortured and interrogated but neither would say anything, and following hours of heavy-handed brutality the Free State officers decided that Dan was to be executed.

They accused Dan of constructing the mine in his forge and would exact revenge on at least one of the brothers.

Dan did not make the metal casing of the mine as he had been on the run at the time. The mine was manufactured in The Murphy forge by his brother John.

Dan was bound by his captors and marched from the village and over to Burke’s field at the site of the explosion.

Local Girl Witnessed Shooting

Free State Officers Jeremiah Gaffney, Maurice Culhane and William McAuliffe became judge, jury and executioners.

They opened fire on Dan and the shooting was witnessed by local girl Bridie Lyons. She reported seeing Dan Murphy standing tall before his killers, who shot him several times. He fell but managed to get himself up on his elbows. He was then shot again at close range.

Remembered in Song
Dan Murphy is remembered in the song ‘The Blacksmith Volunteer’ and the following lines are from the last verse: “…Twenty bullets pierces his body through, God help his mother dear, He lived and died for Ireland, – The Blacksmith Volunteer.”
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