In the early on the morning of 23rd Mar 1921, six members of 'C' Company, First Battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade were shot by a party of Black and Tans and RIC at a farm at Ballycannon, Clogheen, just outside Cork city. The IRA believed that they had been betrayed by Patrick 'Cruxy' Connor. Connor had returned to Cork after the Coolavohig Ambush - 25 Feb 1921. Once in Cork he was soon arrested by the R.I.C. for the possession of a revolver. The IRA believe that Connors broke down under interrogation and betrayed them
Cornelius O'Keefe farmed 105 acres at Ballycannon, on the road leading from Clogheen to Tower. His house was a known 'safe house' where volunteers could shelter when it was unsafe for them to sleep at home. On the farm there were secure hiding places for the guns and explosives with which they carried out their missions.
At four in the morning of Wednesday, Mar 23rd., O’Keefe was wakened by the arrival of a large force of police. They broke down the farm door with blows from their rifle butts. The family was ordered back to the bedrooms and the house was thoroughly searched. The British then searched the farmyard, where six volunteers were discovered asleep in a barn.
A local schoolteacher whose house overlooked the two fields outside the barn was awakened by the sound of shots at about half four, while it was still quite dark. He watched the lights moving around the farmyard. He heard one voice scream out and another shout "run for it". He could barely see a man breaking away and run across the field. A volley of shots rang out and the man fell. Another man with a light walked towards the body. After ten minutes there were more shots but this time they saw no body fall. Later he saw another man fleeing and more shots rang out. As the light increased he identified the men with guns as police. Later he watched as the police brought down bodies in blankets and laid them outside the house in the boreen, which led from the O'Keeffe farmyard to the public road. At six in the morning they were placed in lorries which then drove away.
Meanwhile Cornelius O'Keeffe (the farm owner) had been brought across the field where he saw five bodies laid out in blankets. He watched as they were placed in the lorries. In his sworn deposition he stated that a sixth man was then brought out blindfolded, still alive, and was also put in the lorry. O’Keefe was put in a third lorry, which followed the other two to Victoria Barracks. There the first two lorries sped off and he lost sight of them. He was imprisoned in a cell in the Barracks and kept there until on April 17"1, he was finally released without charge.
The six IRA men killed were
WO 35/149A/1 covers their deaths in British NA. Deaths of William Deasy, Jeremiah Mullane, Thomas Dennehy, Daniel; Murphy, Michael Sullivan, Daniel Crowley; 23rd March, 1921; Kerry Pike, near Cork, County Cork.