O'Carroll Murder - 16 Oct 1920

On Oct 16 1920. Mr Peter O’Carroll was shot dead by the Military at his home in 92 Manor Street Dublin. Dave Nelligan in WS380 cites Collins as saying they should "Concentrate on Hardy" as the perpetrator. Though clearly Peter O'carroll was not a senile old man, as his son's Witness Statements says his father was in Irish Republican Brotherhood and bought Lee Enfield rifles from British soldiers. He was born 16 April 1858 in 33 William's Place, Dublin, Ireland , so was 63 when he died

He had been living at this address for some time. The 1901 Irish Census shows him at 92 Manor Street, Dublin. A butcher with a servant.

And still at 92 Manor St in 1911 census. By now he is unemployed, and the servant has gone

The BBC defines the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) as a small, secret, revolutionary body (known as the Fenian movement in the 1850s and 60s), committed to the use of force to establish an independent Irish republic....The revival of the IRB after 1916 and its considerable influence within both the Dail and the IRA during the Anglo- Irish war (1919-21), was chiefly because Michael Collins, the IRB President and Dail Minister of Finance, still valued it. He considered that it had a vital role to play, especially in gathering intelligence and he resisted the efforts of other Sinn Féin politicians to gain control of the IRA’s military campaign. By 1918 there were 350 IRB circles with a total membership of 3,000.

At 1.50am Peter O’Carroll and his wife Annie were awoken by a heavy knock on the front door of their home at 92 Manor Street. Mr. O’Carroll got out of bed and put on for his trousers and stockings. A night-time military curfew was in place in Dublin and the family was accustomed to such late night raids. Two of the O’Carroll’s seven children were members of the IRA: Liam was Adjutant of the 1st Battalion of the Dublin Brigade, while Peter Jnr was a member of ‘A’ Company of the same Battalion. Mrs O'Carroll later said that this raid was unusual in that there were only 2 or 3 men outside, rather than the lorry load who turned up on other raids. Peter O'Carroll went to open the door, there was a thud then silence. The implication of Mrs O'Carroll. When Mrs O'Carroll went down to investigate, she found her husband close to death. He had been shot once in the side of the head. There was no evidence of a struggle. The murderers pinned a note to his chest purporting to be from the IRA and claiming the murder. Peter O’Carroll had in fact been murdered by members of the Auxiliary Division of the RIC.

It seems clear that this murder was carried out by "Crown Forces" of some sort. The implication in Nelligan's Witness Statement is that it was Hardy that shot Peter O'Carroll, viz Neligan seeing a note from Collins on the murder saying "Concentrate on Hardy". One can only assume that the information came from the widow, who says that she recognised the man and the voice on a number of occasions. But it does seem odd that she has never made public, nor have any other in the family, that they believed Hardy was the murderer. A similar thing occurred with the Crown Forces murder of the Lord Mayor of Limerick

The silent approach, free movement after curfew and the use of a silencer all point to Crown Forces of some sort. If asked to guess who did it, I would say F Coy of ADRIC, but there is no proof. It may well be that Collins reached the conclusion when he said "concentrate on Hardy. Hardy is a very probable suspect, but not the only one

Nor can one say that Peter O'Carroll was a blameless invalid given his membership of the IRB and his trading in guns.

A question was asked in Parliament.

WS755. The full significance of the presence and activity of that 'Murder Gang" was illustrated by the perpetration of the slaying of Mr. O'Carroll. of Manor St. One of his sons, Liam, was Adjutant of our (1st) Battalion; another, Peter, was a member of "A" Coy of the same Battalion. Not finding the boys at home, the. "Murder Gang" struck at the father

WS 314 and WS594. Of Liam O'Carroll says My father and his father were members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Through my father, I became associated with the Nationalist Movement. ... We had a fair number of Lee Enfields. We were buying them at that time from British Army men. As a matter of fact, my father bought quite a quantity. He had a shop in Manor Street. These fellows, when they wanted a few drinks, would take anything out of the Barracks. The usual thing was that they would bring a parcel around; and he would give them five shillings in any case; it might be a pair of old boots; it might be two .45's. On one occasion, there was delivered to him a lorry load of petrol in two-gallon tins.

WS380 Dave Nelligan (DMP Special Branch and an IRA spy in Dublin Castle) An old man named, Carroll kept a locksmith's shop in Stoneybatter, a working-class quarter of the city. He had two sons, active Volunteers. Carroll had a visit from a British Army officer who warned him that if his sons did not surrender at the Castle before a given date he would be shot. Carroll. was found shot dead in his shop later. On his body was pinned a card: "Spies beware, I.R.A.". Tobin brought me a slip of paper and on it was written in Collins' writing: "Concentrate on Hardy". That was the name of the killer. MacNamara and myself knew this man well. He was an Orangeman, with an artificial leg, on the Castle garrison and was an Intelligence Officer in the Auxiliaries and a very hostile killer. I told Tobin to send two men to the Castle next day and I would point out this man whom we knew lived in a city flat to which he cycled every morning. Joe Guilfoyle was at the gate next morning with a bicycle. Our man did not appear. After hours waiting I signalled Guilfoyle to go away. He cycled to the flat in Harcourt Street where he found Caldwell, another member of the Squad, standing on the Street. Guilfoyle told him to clear off as Hardy wee not coming out. As they moved off a lorry dashed up the Street. Several auxiliaries dismounted and placed the boys under arrest. They were brought to the Castle and put in a cell while their captors went for a drink. Hardy's wife had seen Caldwell hanging about and, fearing for her husband's safety, had 'phoned to the Castle in some pre-arranged phrase. Caldwell had in his pocket a note-book containing such entries as the index numbers of military and auxiliary motor cars and addressee of auxiliaries and military officers. Guilfoyle took it from him and swallowed it. They were interrogated, knocked about and taken for a midnight ride. They were released next day.

WS638 A few days later Tobin sent me up to Harcourt Street to keep watch on a British Intelligence Officer by the name of Captain Hardy who he knew used to visit an hotel there. I kept up this watch at certain times for a period of a couple of days. One evening, about 6 o'clock, I saw a man with a limp go into the hotel having got out of a small van. At this time I was not sure whether this was Hardy or not but Joe Guilfoyle came along and I reported my suspicions to him.

The city coroner was instructed by the Lord Lieutenant not to hold an inquest as an inquiry would be conducted by the Military. At a meeting of Dublin Corporation condemned the instruction from the Lord Lieutenant and tendered sympathy to Mrs O’Carroll and her family "on the murder of her husband by the armed forces of England.”