Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

John Hannon. D 1920 

John Hannon was born in east Galway and joined the RIC in 1881.  

He married his wife Mary while posted in Kildare. After his marriage Hannon was transferred to serve in Cork and was stationed at Collinstown, Westmeath at the time of his retirement in 1914. The couple had five children, including one of who entered a seminary to train for the priesthood.  Some later reports suggest that Hannon enlisted as a Special Constable to financially support his sons education.  

In October 1916 he was one of three Special Constables in the Kings County RIC and was listed as attached to the station at the Blueball/Mount Bolus. In 1919 he transferred to Clonmore outside Ballinagar and when that Barracks was abandoned, he moved to Clonbullogue. 

In July 1920 the Freemans Journal reported… 

an ex-R.l.C. constable named Hannon, who has been acting for some time as special constable in Clonbullogue (King’s Co.). was held up on Tuesday by three undisguised men in a motor car as he was cycling for the post, and in spite of his entreaties, was borne away… The military took possession of the village that evening. Hannon’s bicycle and overcoat were found on the roadside, but all further trace of him was lost.’ (1)

In 1921, three Tullamore republicans, Alo Brennan, Edward Conroy, and Michael Grogan were convicted of kidnapping Hannon at a military court in the Curragh and sentenced to terms of imprisonment in Britain.  

Hannon was held under armed guard in various safe houses for several weeks, during which time he wrote a series of affectionate letters to his wife and children. 

After inquiries from Brigade Officers, Michael Collins is reported to have instructed the Offaly IRA to give the Special Constable the choice of a conditional release or execution. Having been read the list of conditions attached to his proposed release, Hannon is reported to have rejected the offer and been shot dead. His body was concealed at Ballyduff/Ballykeen/Ballinakill bog outside Phillipstown/Daingean. 

On the 29th of June 1921, two local men William Flanagan and Paddy Farrell were searching for grouse on the bog when they came on Hannon’s partially decomposed body.

After a Court of Inquiry held in lieu of an inquest, John Hannon’s remains were returned to his family and buried at Killaderry grave yard, Daingean.

In recent times and incredible amount research has been carried on John Hannon by PJ Goode for his book ‘A Peoples Army’ and the Walsh Island Historical Group for their publication ‘A History of Walsh Island through its People’.

The author would also like to acknowledge the assistance of Anne Flanagan O’Rourke, who provided information on the Court of Inquiry held in lieu of an inquest.

Hannon’s death is listed in Daithí O Corráin and Eunan O’Halpin’s ‘The Dead of the Irish Revolution‘ (DIR) which lists a firing party at his execution.   

The DIR is a monumental piece of research and has been of invaluable assistance to the author in producing profiles for this site. Nevertheless, no publication is infallible (including this site) and at times Hannon’s DIR Biography appears to conflate him with a different RIC man who had served in Meath and with Thomas Hannon a 21 year man shot in Galway in 1921.

Until further checks into information are made the author has decided to err on the side of caution and not publish these names.


Sources:  

Military Service Pension Collection. John Donegan MSP34REF1688. John Hynan MSP34REF1688. Search online at https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions-collection-1916-1923/search-the-collection

 1901 and 1911 Census. Search online at http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/ 

Courts of inquiry in lieu of inquest. Easter Rising and Ireland under martial law 1916-21. WO 35/151A.  National Archives (United Kingdom) available online to subscribers of https://www.findmypast.co.uk/

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

P.J. Goode. ‘A People’s Army: Cloneygowan, D Company Second Battalion Offaly No.1 Brigade Irish Republican Army 1919-1923.’ (Cloneygowan) 2021. 

Walsh Island Historical Group. A History of Walsh Island through its  people. (Walsh Island) 2023.

Constabulary Gazette. 26 July 1919. 

Evening Herald. March 4, 1921. 

Freemans Journal. July 23 1920. October 13, 1921. 

(1) Freemans Journal. July 23 1920.

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