Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Edward Doran 1897-1921 

Edward Doran was born at Adamstown, county Wexford around 1897. Edwards mother appears to have died when he was still a very young child. His father Martin was a land steward and the family relocated to the Minches estate in Athy. After working as a gardener, Edward joined the RIC in 1918 and was posted to Birr. 

During the War of Independence republicans attempted to create a shadow government. A system of ‘Dail’ courts was established to replace the pre-existing Assizes. By 1921 the British legal institutions had been largely supplanted in much or rural Ireland. Nevertheless, the powers that be insured that the ordinary legal conventions were upheld, and RIC men continued to issue summonses to perspective jurors in advance of scheduled sittings of the assizes. 

On 17 May 1920, Edward Doran was one of a seven-man cycle detachment ordered to deliver summonses in Cadamstown and surrounding areas. The IRA became aware of the police itinerary, when a Black and Tan stationed in Birr disclosed details to a member of the Cumann na mBan.  

The IRA is south Offaly had previously made several unsuccessful attempts to mobilise a brigade flying column. By May, another column was formed under Joseph Connolly. This group was smaller than earlier efforts and its operations were based in the 3rd battalion area covering Killoughey, Kilcormac, Kinnitty and Drumcullen. Informed of the RIC cycle patrol Connolly’s unit set up ambush positions in Kinnitty with Connolly and Michael Carroll occupying the burned-out RIC barracks, while Michael Cordial, Michael Seery and another volunteer concealed themselves amongst the foliage around the Catholic church. 

Returning to Birr after conducting their business at Cadamstown, the RIC party divided into two groups travelling through Kinnitty. Three policemen cycled up main street to the Birr Road. Meanwhile. Doran along with constables Connors, Dunne and Fitzgerald, took the road towards Kilcormac. 

As Doran and his colleagues cycled through Kinnitty the IRA opened fire. While the three policemen on the Birr Road remained unhurt and continued on their journey back to barracks, all four constables on the Kilcormac Road were wounded and the IRA withdrew. Military lorries arrived from Birr, but Dunne had already expired. Doran was removed to hospital in Birr military barracks where he died two days later. 

The Leinster Regiment provided Edward Doran with a military funeral, the regimental band played Beethoven’s death march as his coffin covered in the Union Jack was escorted through Crinkill. An honour guard drawn from RIC stations at Birr, Banagher and Shinrone were also in attendance. The Last Post was sounded at the ‘Soldiers Cemetery’, before traveling to Athy for burial.  


Military Service Pension Collection. Joseph Connolly 24SP2719. Michael Coridal 24SP11688. Michael Seery MSP34REF19821. Search online at  

Bureau of Military History Statements. Joe Connolly (Witness 1599). Michael Cordial (Witness 1712). Search online at 1921/bmhsearch/  

1901 and 1911 Census. Search online at 

Richard Abbot. ‘Police Casualties in Ireland 1919-1922’. (Cork) 2019. 

Daithí O Corráin and Eunan O’Halpin. The dead of the Irish Revolution. (Yale) 2020. 

Paddy Heaney. At the foot of the Slieve Blooms. (Kilcormac) 2006.  

Daniel Murray “‘Tinkering with the honour of the nation’: The Second Offaly Brigade in the War of Independence, 1920-21.” Online at

Tom Nolan. The War of Independence in Offaly in Journal of the Old Athlone Society volume 9. (Athlone) 2015, available online at _the_war_of_independence_in_offaly.pdf

Leinster Reporter. 28 May 1921. 25 June 1921 8 October 1921. 

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