SIR – In relation to Daithi Fallon’s letter on October 10th in relation to the killing of Sgt Mulherin. He states that he ‘merely’ sets the context for how the killing was viewed by many. Evidently by distancing himself and later in the passage using reductive terminology to illustrate my viewpoint as ‘naive in the extreme,’ Daithi’s personal lens is rather limited and overcome with a bilious episode to co-ordinate a perspective which is wholly irrelevant.
Words carry weight as did the hearts of Irish men and women who routinely put their lives on the line in the name of Mother Ireland. Without sacrifice, the objective cannot be made whole and the price of freedom comes at this cost.
Circumstances of war are never picture-perfect and I would advise the writer to avert his focus to the fact that, in war, the needs of many outweigh the needs of the few. Daithi indicates that Mulherin should have been allowed access to the church without the threat of interference from the IRA and his advocacy of trust thus adhered to.
It is bemusing that Daithi aligns trust in the same breath as the unconscionable terror force, the Black and Tans. General Crozier resigned his command as he deduced: ‘The campaign was being conducted by foul means for foul reasons by foul men.’ He referred to these men as ‘agent provocateurs,’ a term that Daithi closely alludes to as he writes of his own deliberate provocation on asking who pulled the trigger on Mulherin.
Barry took no issue with the British people but with their draconian imperialist rule. In (Meda) Ryan’s chapter, ‘Caught up in the movement,’ she describes Barry’s intelligence work in the Bandon area in 1919. Sean Buckley enlisted Barry to help him with this and offered ‘extremely valuable information about the British Military and police forces’ and took ‘grave risks’.’
Daithi resumes his derogatory portrayal of Barry by stating that he had ‘only’ risen to a rank equivalent to corporal during his tenure with the British Army. This is a non-entity as the British were not going to award a young Irish Catholic man an esteemed position upon their crowned and crested hierarchal totem pole of pomp and ceremony.
Barry’s expertise in guerilla warfare was taught in the prestigious West Point Military Academy in New York and admired by great world leaders. To quote Comdt Tom Kelleher, in his respect for Barry, he stated ‘he was wise beyond his years – a genius.’
Colonel Hudson of the King’s Regiment, based in Skibbereen, acknowledged publicly that the treatment of two of his men captured by Barry’s column was generous and hospitable and they were returned unharmed. Therefore, I would contest Daithi’s comment that i appear to be ‘lost’ in the annals of history and expel any notion of his apparent cognitive dissonance where the odour of bitter diatribes fall short of opaque in colour and desperate in nature.
Collins and Brugha were aware that the incident was a matter of necessity and not a manner of opinion and had to be seen to appease the church. Mulherin knew his life was in imminent danger and was heavily guarded at all times, therefore the church door was the republicans’ only opportunity to kill him. Mulherin had a history of being a highly-abusive mercenary and yet received an instant painless death from the IRA.
The warrior code teaches its subjects to serve a cause that transcends the self. It holds the promise to protect and serve your comrades and country. The volunteers held this oath to honour one another and their nation.
There are a select few who are aware of the identity of who shot Mulherin, but out of respect to their forefathers, they will never publicly divulge this sensitive information. Thus, it is best to anchor our thoughts and allow the dead to rest in peace.