Next week (26th to 29th April 2022) will mark the centenaries of the Bandon Valley killings and the funerals which followed on those dates in 1922. The Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton, has announced that he intends to mark the centenaries by making pastoral visits throughout next week to the parishes that were most closely affected by those events one hundred years ago.
Writing in the Cork, Cloyne and Ross Diocesan Magazine this month, Bishop Colton said that the historiography of that period and those events in the Bandon Valley ‘has been written about extensively and debated with different narratives, emotions and responses elicited. Why it happened and what the motives of people were are elusive questions. What can we know with certainty at this remove? ‘
The Bishop emphasised, however, that at another level the facts were straightforward. He wrote:
At one straightforward level what happened is clear. In that week, 14 people were killed: Michael O’Neill, Thomas Hornibrook, Samuel Hornibrook, Herbert Woods, James Buttimer, David Gray, Francis Fitzmaurice, Robert Howe, John Chinnery, Robert Nagle, Alexander Gerald McKinley, John Buttimer, James Greenfield and John Bradfield. Two of those were 16 years of age and the oldest was 82. Twelve were members of the Church of Ireland in this Diocese. Attempts were made on others’ lives and they had to escape, many never to return. We know that in the years that followed many people from Cork, Cloyne and Ross felt insecure in this part of the world and left.’
Announcing his approach to the centenaries Bishop Colton said:
I am not in a position to adjudicate on the historiography of that period. As lead pastor in this Diocese today, however, my primary duty, having consulted with the local clergy, who have listened to descendants, is to ensure that in prayer and liturgy, these people and events are appropriately remembered in the context of this Decade of Centenaries. With that in mind, as Bishop, I will be spending the octave of 24th April to 1st May 2022 on pastoral visits to the parishes which were caught up in those events one hundred years ago.
Since 2014 Cork, Cloyne and Ross has been commemorating the centenaries of the period 1914 to 2024 in a programme called the Cork, Cloyne and Ross Centenaries Commemoration and Reconciliation Project co-funded by the Church of Ireland Priorities’ Fund One element of this was the creation of a memorial space for prayer and reflection was created in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork which from 2014 to 2018 commemorated Cork people who were killed or wounded in the First World War. Since 2019, that space has been one of prayer and commemoration of those who died in the War of Independence and the Civil War. In 2021, led by the Lord Mayor of Cork, and the Mayor of Cork, County a Service was held to remember all those who died in Ireland during the War of Independence.