|At 12 o'clock yesterday, Mr. George B. Horgan, LL.B., solr.,
Deputy Coroner, held an inquest at Corcoran's Hotel, Blarney, to inquire into the circumstances of
the death of Maurice Christopher Aherne [sic], 24. I.R.A., Monard, Whitechurch, who was shot dead while
returning home from Cork on Wednesday night, 5th inst., on the public road at Rathpeacon, by some
person at present unknown. All the arrangements for the inquest were in the hands of the I.R.A. police,
who were represented at the inquest by the Brigade Officer. The following jury were sworn :Messrs.
Ed. Aherne (foreman), Ml. Buckley, Laurence McNamara, Patrick Sullivan, James O'Mahony, Timothy
Forrest, Dl. Buckley (Kilcully), Jeremiah Crowley, Dl. Buckley, John Walsh, Daniel Delaney, Jas. O'Riordan,
Edward Flynn, Edward Scully, and James Murphy.
Maurice Ahern, father of the deceased, deposed that his son went into Cork to deliver milk twice daily.
About 7.40 on the 5th inst. he was told by Mr. Daniel Healy, Coolowen, that his son was lying on the road,
and that he (Mr. Healy) was afraid he was dead. The pony having come back with nobody on the car.
Witness was going towards the place when Mr. Healy spoke to him. He then proceeded along the road
and was taken into Mr. Lynch's house. He went into the house and there he saw his son dead.
To the CoronerWitness did not know how much money his son would be bringing home. The sums
varied, but witness did not know the average amount. His son was selling witness's milk, but was keeping the
money himself as he paid witness for the milk. A sum of £2 3s 0s was found on his body, but his watch
To the ForemanWitness could not say whether his son had ever brought home less than £2
3s 0d. Witness did not know the amounts of money his son brought home.
To the Brigade Officer of the I.R.A. PoliceThe deceased left home that evening at 6 o'clock. He
usually returned at half-past seven or eight o'clock. The £2 3s 0d was found in the deceased's
hip pocket. When he came home at night he usually took the money out of his front pocket and counted it.
When his clothes were examined on Wednesday night deceased had no money in his front pocket.
To the CoronerThe watch deceased had was not very valuable. When witness met Mr. Healy
it was fairly dark.
Daniel Joseph Healy, accountant, employed by Messrs. Suttons, Ltd., South Mall, Cork, residing at
Coolowen, was the next witness. He deposed that he met the deceased about a quarter to seven on
Wednesday evening at Blackpool, near the church. Deceased was on his way home at the time. He
had his pony and milk-cart with him and pulled up when he saw witness. Deceased, who lived not far from
the witness, asked him if he would care for a lift. Witness acquiesced, and got into the van. They drove
along the Commons road, going at a sling-trot, but now and again a little faster. It took them about 20 or
25 minutes to get to Rathpeacon.
CoronerWhat actually happened then?
Witness, continuing, said they were going along the road
after calling at a cottage, and were chatting together, when a man suddenly appeared at the lefthand
side of the road. He ran towards them, flourishing a revolver, and ordered them to stop and put their hands
up. It was dusky at the time. Witness here, in reply to the Coroner, gave a description of the man, added
that from his general behaviour there was no doubt he was an accomplished bandit.
Continuing his evidence, witness said, in reply to a question from the Coroner, that he did not see any
bicycle about. He could see the man's revolver quite clearly. After ordering them to put up their hands,
the man approached the side of the car nearest him, which was the side at which witness was sitting.
Glancing down the road towards the city and still holding the revolver in his hand, the man said to witness
Have you any money on you? Witness, replying to him said, Surely a father of ten
children, on a weekly salary, would not have much spare money. When the man first spoke and
told them to put up their hands, there was nothing unusual in his voice. But when he repeated witness's
answer Father of ten children?he spoke in what witness took to be an English accent.
At the same time he felt witness's pocket and while doing so he continued keeping an eye
towards the city. After he had examined witness's pockets, the man leaned across witness and felt Ahern's
pockets. The car was narrow and low, so that the man had not much difficulty in leaning over. He then said,
Get out of that car. Deceased and witness both got out of the car, on the same side,
namely that on which the man was standing. The man faced deceased first. Witness here commented
that from his actions the man probably knew who he was looking for all right. He then said to the deceased
Give up the money. The deceased refused, saying I will not. The man again
demanded the money, and deceased said it was not his. The man then told deceased he would fire if
deceased would not hand over the money, but deceased still refused. Again deceased was asked for the
money several times under threats of firing, but he maintained his refusal to part with the money. This
went on for some time, the conversation lasting from five to ten minutesprobably about seven minutes.
CoronerWhat happened then?
Witness, continuing, said the man counted, One, two, threebut paused again
to demand the money. Witness here interjected that the man, before this dialogue started, turned to the
witness and asked whose was the money witness had. Witness replied My employers,
and then being asked who they were, told him. The man then turned his attention to Ahern. Finally the
man asked deceased under penalty of being shot to hand over the money, and when deceased once more
refused, counted One, two, three, with a slight pause between each word. After he said
three the man again asked for the money, and when the deceased refused the man fired.
As the shot rang out, witness turned and ran towards the city. He ran about a quarter of a mile. He did not
know then that the deceased had been killed. Deceased never uttered a sound when the shot was fired.
Witness thought it might have been a blank shot, or have failed to hit Ahern.
Answering the brigade officer of police, witness said when the man spoke first it seemed to be in an ordinary
Southern accent. The man's search of both witness and deceased did not appear to have been for arms.
Robbery was unquestionably the motive. The body was lying on the left hand side of the road going from Cork
when next witness saw it. The head was facing the left-hand ditch, and the legs towards the centre of the
road. It was possible for the man to have a bicycle concealed there. After the shot was fired witness ran down
the road for about a quarter of a mile and met James Mullane and a boy. While he was telling Mullane
about the occurrence he saw a cyclist passing, the man riding the bicycle having come from the direction
of the shooting. He appeared to witness to be the same man as the man who had held them up, and
witness remarked this to Mullane at the time. The cyclist passed quicklyin fact shot past like a flash.
CoronerRiding very quickly?
WitnessOh, very fast.
Continuing, witness said there was a down hill at that particular spot. Witness had his back turned and did not
see the cyclist until the cyclist was actually passing him. Witness was talking and did not hear everything
the man said. Mullane told him the cyclist had said, There is a burglar above there, but
witness, who was talking himself, only caught the words above there.
A JurorWould it have been a murder above there?
WitnessI did not hear it myself, but Mullane said burglar. Witness, continuing said the
cyclist passed so quickly that they had not the time to stop him, even though he (witness) suspected the man
was the same as he who had held them up. Witness and his companions made a detour, to get help, as he
thought there might be a gang of assailants there, and came out on the road beyond where the shooting
took place. Returning he found the body in the position already describedon the right side going
towards the city, on the left going towards the country.
To the ForemanWitness frequently got a lift home from the deceased though more often from John
Joe Murphy. It would not be possible for the cyclist to pass along the road without seeing the body. A juror here
asked was the body lying face downwards or on its back, and the witness replied, On its back, not
face downwards. The juror remarked that that would account for the money having been left in the hip
pocket, although there was none in the front pocket, and the watch too, was gone.
Dr, Michael Donovan, Whitechurch, stated that he examined the body of deceased on Thursday evening
at Mr. Ahern's residence at Monard. He found there was what appeared to be a revolver wound at the inner
side of the left eye. This was an entrance wound. At the back of the head there was a larger wound which
witness took to be an exit wound. The bullet passed in almost a straight line through the head, the wounds
being almost opposite. There was a superficial wound on the left eyebrow such as could be caused by a fall.
It was not a deep woundmerely superficial. Shock due to a bullet passing through the brain was the
cause of death. Witness did not find any particles of lead or anything of that nature. Death could be
instantaneous from such a wound.
James Mullane, Monard, Whitechurch, said that on the evening in question, about twenty-past seven, he was
driving home in the car when he saw Mr. Healy running towards him. Mr. Healy, who looked very excited, told
witness to stop, and said Don't go up that road as there is a robber there and he has attacked
Maurice Ahern. Mr. Healy added that he heard the explosion and ran away. While conversing
with him witness saw a cyclist who had come down the road, pass them. Neither witness nor Mr. Healy
saw him approach. After passing them and when he had got a distance of twenty yards, the cyclist
shouted back There is a burglar above there. The cyclist, who did not stop, was going very
quickly. Mr. Healy then said to witness, referring to the cyclist, That must be he. Witness
made a detour. He wanted to go up the road but the others would not let him, for fear there might be
a gang of assailants there. They consequently made a detour, as Mr. Healy had described, and went for
help, after which they went to where the body was lying in the position already described by Mr. Healy.
A juror commented on the cyclist's strange remark, and said he wondered why the cyclist said nothing about
the body, when he could not have failed to see it. It was very suspicious, and he thought it showed the
cyclist was at least concerned in the affair.
This concluded the evidence.
The Coroner said, in summing up, that they had not so much light yet thrown on the identity of the man who
had actually committed the terrible deed, but it was quite clear that the deceased was murdered by some
person at present unknown. They could only hope that this unknown person would be discovered and
captured and that he would be brought to justice. The evidence showed very clearly that the motive was
robbery and he suggested that the jury return a verdict of murder by some person unknown, on the public
The jury then found as follows :The deceased, Maurice Christopher Ahern, was
murdered on the public highroad at Rathpeacon, County Cork, on the 5th day of October, 1921, by
being shot in the head with a revolver by a person unknown, whose object was robbery. The
jury, the Coroner and the Brigade Officer of Police all expressed sympathy with the relatives of the deceased.