Patrick "Cruxy" O'Connor

From the Officil British Account - From an Ancestry tree - I am not sure on MIC

There is an unsubstantiated report that Patrick Connor was a Sgt-Major during WW1. But the only MIC for such a sgt-major appears to be service no. 6741 in Dublin Fusiliers, and he attested in 1899 (his record exists on Ancestry) which makes him too old for our Patrick Connor's who was shot in 1922 in New York aged 26 (ie born circa 1895), and survived

Trying to put his life together is difficult, but I think now that we have it

1893 Feb 15. b.Cork Correct from shipping record.

1895 Jul/Sep. His brother, Michael Francis O'Connor. b Cork v5, p104

1901 Census living at Mount Desert, Cork

1911 census Living at 7 Mount Desert, St. Mary's, Cork. This is close to Clogheen and Blarney Rd, Cork

An Ancestry Tree has him serving as Joseph Connor of 2nd Kings Own Lancaster Regt

1919 Jan 29 Croix de Guerre Gazetted to 18754 Serjeant Joseph Conner, 63rd Battalion, Machine Gun Corps (Salford) - I cannot prove nor disprove that this was Cruxy

1920 Jan/Mar Michael Francis O'Connor marries Cork v5 , p155

1921, Patrick "Cruxy" Connor from Clogheen, an ex-soldier who had been awarded the Croix de Guerre during World War I joined a Brigade Flying Column in early 1921. This was the Column responsible on 25th Feb 1921 for the Coolavokig ambush. Connor was in charge of the no1 Lewis gun. However Connor claimed that the gun jammed, and it scarcely fired any rounds during the ambush.

It has been impossibe to find a Croix de Guerre being awarded to O'Connor - and interestingly in Green Tears for Hecuba, the author says that he only got the nickname because be boasted that he was going to earn that award at the Coolnacahera Ambust

Dan "Shadow” Donovan. I was in the command post with Sean when the Auxies finally came on the morning of the 26th. I saw 'Cruxy' Connor run across the road from the cottage to the No. 1 Lewis gun post. He had been a sergeant-major in the British Army and we called him 'Cruxy' because he won some medal called the Croix de Guerre in France. He was one of the city men, from the Blarney Street Company, and was the No. 1 Lewis gunner. It only fired a couple of rounds and stopped. We didn't know the reason then, but we knew later. Cruxy was a spy for the British. He left the Column after Coolavokig, in fact he left the shagging Lewis gun behind saying it was no good. Next evening he was picked up by a British Army party near Blarney."       (in Execution)

On the 15th March the Column was ordered to move to Ballingeary.  The Lewis guns, ammunition, bedding and the officers were transported in the cars, while the men made their way on foot to Pats (Padraigs) Cronins house at Gurteenflugh.  The local men hadn't been home since Christmas and they visited their families.  It was late when they all reported back and it was only then they realised that Crux O'Connor was missing.

They were later raided by the British. In the early on the morning of March 24th. 1921, six members of 'C' Company, First Battalion, Cork No. 1 Brigade were massacred 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 ambush where he was soon arrested by the R.I.C. for the possession of a revolver.

The British Official Blue Book, confirms that they paid him and got him out of Ireland

An account by Ballingeary IRA says that   O'Connor was sentenced to death by the I.R.A. but survived a sniper attack in Cork.

During interrogation at Victoria Barracks he claimed to be a secret service agent and gave the name of the intelligence officer he was supposed to be working for. However the officer denied having any connection with Connor who was then threatened with court martial and summary execution. Following lengthy questioning he broke down and revealed the location of the safe haven of his comrades at Ballycannon.

Over the following days he gave further information on the dumps and hiding places. As a result an arms dump at Killeens was raided and a large amount of guns and ammunition seized. To ensure his safety Connor was kept in custody but word soon leaked out as to his whereabouts. A number of efforts were made to silence him forever. On one occasion a Cumann na mBan girl attempted to bring him food which had been poisoned, but he had in the meantime been moved elsewhere. When it was discovered that he was to be transferred by rail to Dublin a party of twelve IRA men waited at Blarney Station to board the train but he had instead been sent to London on board a destroyer

1921 Jul. the IRA heard that Connor was in London and would collect a letter at Hammersmith Post Office on a certain date. A squad of 2 was sent to London to shoot him when he came to collect the letter, Healy and Liam O'Callaghan. They waited in Hammersmith for 10 days but failed to see Connor, so returned home

1921 Jul 31 The brothers Patrick and Michael Francis O'Connor sail, steerage class, from Liverpool on the Carmania

1921 Aug 8. On the Carmania, lands in New York. Patrick Joseph O'Connor, age 28 years 5 months, he gives his mother as next of kin at 7 Lancaster Quay, Cork

Michael F O'Connor is his married brother, 2 years younger, and a sales man. He has been crossed out on the manifest - but is actually on it on Q5 as Michael Francis O'Connor, and all the same details as in the crossed out entry.. They were going to stay with their aunt Mrs Rosaleen Caffrey living at 308 East 66th St, New York.

1921 Oct 2. The rest of the family arrive in New York from Queenstown, on SS Centennial State, travelling steerage class

They all list their nearest relative in Ireland as Mrs Hannah O'Connor living at Donahaughlan, Co Meath, who is given as Florence O'Connor's mother (the relationship to John and Hannah is a bit obscure). They are going to stay with Michael F. O'Connor, Florence's husband at 308 East 66 th St, New York. This is the address of Michael's aunt that he gave when arriving in August

This ties in with what his mother told reporters about leaving Cork at end of Sept and arriving in New York in October, and the reference she made to Michael's wife and infant.

The IRA heard from a letter sent from New York to Cork that Patrick O'Connor was in New York. They organised an Active Service Unit to go to New York and kill him. The 3 man unit was Pa Murray, Martin Donovan and Danny Healy. Healy and Murray have done Witness statements. Oddly Murray's Witness Statement ends at the Truce and does not mention his trip to New York at all. Healy's Witness Statement gives pages of narrative on the whole operation. He says that they traveled to London with Collins group who were in London for treaty negotiations. The IRA had been alerted to Connor's presence in New York by a letter that "Teddy Courtney, now manager of CIE, received from a lady friend in New York". Murray and Healy got British passports to travel to USA in London, but Donovan had problems and had to cross the Atlantic as a stowaway. They met the "lady friend" of Courtney in New York, her name was Miss Conway, and she told them that Connor was working at Altman's store. The three IRA men watched Altman's store for a period, and one day they spotted Connor leaving. They lost him in the crowd, but he must have recognised them, and they never saw him at Altman's again. Later statements the family made to police show that Connor resigned his job at Altmans at this time.

To get on his trail again, they had the bright idea to ask at his old digs, whose address they had been given by Miss Conway. There they got the address of his new lodgings, and settled down to watch that. "A few nights later, while keeping watch on the new address, we ran into Frank Connor, a brother of Paddy's (our man)". They knew they were on the right track. Eventually the showdown happened

Healy and Donovan were one group, and over the road were Murray and Mullins. Mullins was a New Yorker, originally from Derry, who was one of the few Americans to offer them help. Connor recognised them, and they closed in on him (the BMH has removed the pages detailing the actual murder at this point in the WS) . Donovan and Healy ran for it after the shooting, followed by a crowd of pursuers. Donovan faced down the crowd with an unserviceable revolver. They then went down into the subway and got away by train. Healy says that Connor later died from his wounds. Healy confesses that he is the man referred to as wearing the grey fedora hat in press articles.

They were to return to England in late April 1922 on the Mauritania. But as they though that their cover was known to US authorities, only Murray went on the Mauritania, the other two worked as firemen on SS St Louis to Hamburg. The were smuggled aboard the SS Barbadian to London, and from there by normal trains and boat to Cork, getting back in last Sunday in May 1922.

So it appears he did not die in the attack, but what happened to him? His brother Michael crossed to Ireland a number of times. I find Patrick in the 1930 census living with his parents in New York as "Joseph", then again in 1947 when he returns to Ireland with Michael

1924 Nov 25 This is him marrying in Canada to Claire Morgan. He is a Special Agent for the CNR. The age and name are correct, and ties up with 1930 USA census where he is given as married. His father is John and mother Hannah Field

They had one daughter Eileen born Aug 1927 in Toronto. Claire took the child back home to Ireland in 1927, returning 2 Nov 1928. Cruxy did not travel with them

1927 Michael Francis O'Connor applies for naturalisation in USA

1928 Aug 12. Michael and his family return to New York from Queenstown on SS Adriatic. I do not know if the other family is related, the list is just alphabetic

1930 Apr 1. US Census His parents John and Hannah are living in Manhattan with son "Joseph"

"Joseph O'Connor" arrived in the USA according to this census entry in 1921, is aged 35, he is given as married and married at the age of 30 but there is no wife living here with him, his profession looks like "Butcher in a store" but it is difficult to make out the writing

Brother Michael is living with his wife Florence and son John, in Manhattan and working as a mechanic

1931 Aug 30 Michael arrives back in USA on SS Adriatic from Liverpool

1947 Mar 10

1947 Aug 23. A Pan Am flight from Shannon to New York has among the passengers Michael Francis O'Connor age 51 and Patrick O'Connor. I am unable to make out the age of the Patrick here. He does not look as if he is what our man would be which is 53 or 54.

1952 Cruxy died in the USA (family information)

Coolavohig Ambush