Royal Irish Academy

A Revolution in Profiles - Co. Offaly

In association with The Royal Irish Academy

Michael Cordial 1898-1972

Michael Cordial was born in 1898 at to John and Anne Cordial who farmed at Cumber, Kinnitty. In his youth John Codrial was a noted bowler on the Kinnitty cricket side, later as a hurler he had took part in the Gaelic Invasion of America in 1888. He also served as a district councillor.

In his statement to the Bureau of Military History, Michael Cordial related that in the course of a raid on his family home during the War of Independence policemen threatened to shoot his father.

Along with his brothers Andrew, James and William,  Cordial  played a central role Kinnitty’s first Senior hurling championship success in 1920 . Michael also played on the Offaly side which claimed the 1915 Leinster junior hurling title.

In 1917, the brothers were founding members of the Kinnitty volunteers and in 1919 the Cordial family home acted as a safe house for a number of Offaly republicans who had taken part in an escape from Mountjoy prison.  Andrew and William were both interned at the Curragh in 1921. 

Elected as company captain Michael Cordial, witnessed the units massive expansion during the conscription crisis and its subsequent contraction at the end of the Great War.  He was later promoted to Battalion Quartermaster, carrying out raids for arms, burning abandoned RIC barracks and blocking roads.

In 1921 he joined a Battalion active service unit or flying column under the command of Joseph Connolly. In May 1921, Cordial took part in the ambush of a cycle patrol at Kinnitty in which two RIC men were killed and the execution of a suspected spy John Lawlor.

After an IRA member was wounded while taking part in road blocking operation at Cadamstown, Cordial participated in an attack on Coolacrease where Abraham and Richard Pearson were shot dead, and their family home burned.

On the outbreak of the Civil War, both Cordial and his Battalion O.C.  Joseph Connolly took a pro-Treaty position and served as an officers in the National Army throughout the Civil War. Cordial acted as Connolly’s best man when the Rahan native married Sarah Grimes at Kinnitty in January 1923.

In 1924, along with his brothers Andy and Will, Cordial was a member of the Offaly hurling team which defeated Cork in the delayed 1923 All Ireland Junior Final. 

A member of the Leinster hurling side which competed in the inaugural Railway Cup competition,  in 1927 Cordial travelled to America where fellow Kinnitty man P.J Grimes was a major figure in the New York GAA. On his arrival Cordial joined his brother Andy as a member of the successful Offaly side which dominated hurling in the city during the late 1920’s.

He married Josephine Egan a former Cumann na mBan dispatcher from Kilcormac in 1936 and they later returned to live at the Walk, Kinnitty.

Michael Cordial  passed away at Birr Hospital in 1972. After a funeral at Kinnitty Church, he was buried in St Flannan’s graveyard.

The Author wishes to Acknowledge the lifetime of work carried out by the late Paddy Heaney regarding the history of Kinnitty, Cadamstown and the Slieve Blooms.


Sources:

Military Service Pension Files. Joseph Connolly 24SP2719. Michael Coridal 24SP11688. Michael Seery MSP34REF19821. Josephine Cordial MSP34REF62994. James Cordial MSP34REF57339. Andrew Cordial MSP34REF57678. William Cordial MSP34REF26398. Search online athttps://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/military-service-pensions-collection-1916-1923

Bureau of Military History Statements. Joe Connolly (Witness 1599). Michael Cordial (Witness 1712). Search online at https://www.militaryarchives.ie/collections/online-collections/bureau-of-military-history-1913- 1921/bmhsearch/

Pat Donegan. ‘100 Years Ago: Offaly’s First All Ireland Win -1923 Hurling Championship’ Offaly Senior Hurling Final Match Programme 

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

MSPC Blog ‘The Pearson Executions Offaly June 1921’ online at https://militarypensions.wordpress.com/2020/11/11/the-pearson-executions-offaly-june-1921/

Daniel Murray “‘Tinkering with the honour of the nation’: The Second Offaly Brigade in the War of Independence, 1920-21.” Online at https://erinascendantwordpress.wordpress.com/tag/kinnitty/

Tom Nolan. The War of Independence in Offaly in Journal of the Old Athlone Society volume 9. (Athlone) 2015, available online at https://www.midlandshistory.com/uploads/4/0/4/1/40413751/4_-_the_war_of_independence_in_offaly.pdf

Irish Independent. 7 February 1923. 2 July 1934. 23 June 1921. 15 June 1972.

Midland Tribune. September 6 1883. 4 April 1984.

Offaly Independent. 10 August 1963. 12 August 1936. 26 December 1975.

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