Cork Burning

Michael Lenihan

During 11-12 December 1920  British forces set fire to Cork city. Using eyewitness accounts and
illustrated with contemporary images, Cork Burning tells the story of the horrific events.
Date Published :
January 2019
Publisher :
Mercier Press
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781781176245
Pages : 256
Dimensions : 9.5 X 6.5 inches
In stock


‘A tale of arson, loot and murder’ was how one source described the events that would befall Cork city on the night of 11–12 December 1920. In a scene of almost unprecedented destruction, members of the British forces bent on revenge for the ambushes at Kilmichael and Dillon’s Cross set fire to both the commercial and the civic heart of the city. One side of Patrick Street and the area surrounding it were razed to the ground, while City Hall and the neighbouring Carnegie Library were gutted as Auxiliaries and Black and Tans shot at Cork’s firemen and cut their hoses in an effort to ensure maximum damage. Then, to add insult to injury, as the smoke cleared the British government tried to blame Cork’s own citizens for the devastation. Using eyewitness accounts and contemporary sources, and illustrated with exceptional images from the period, Cork Burning tells the story of the events before, during and after that infamous night.

It covers such topics as Cork City before December 1920, the Black and Tans, Auxiliaries and K Company, Republican Cork, a timeline of events before the burning of Cork City, early fires and arson by crown forces in Cork, the Kilmichael Ambush, the Dillon’s Cross Ambush, premises destroyed, official investigations into the causes, compensation and rebuilding.

About The Author

Michael Lenihan is a native of Cork who lives and works in the city. A collector of just about anything collectable, and an avid history enthusiast, Michael has one of the finest collections of Cork books and photographs in the world. Michael's books combine his years of collecting, researching, and living in Cork with his own love of the city. His books are informative and witty, and will strike a chord with anyone who is fascinated by Cork and its history.


Acknowledgements 9
Introduction 11
Timeline of Events before the Burning of Cork City 19
Cork City Before December 1920 25
The British Forces in Cork in 1920 49
Republican Cork 59
Arson Rampant in Cork 77
The Kilmichael Ambush 89
The Dillon’s Cross Ambush 93
The Burning of the City 103
Business Premises destroyed 145
Local Reaction to the Burning 155
British Reaction 169
Bishop Cohalan’s Decree 177
Compensation Claims 181
Rebuilding Cork City 191
Epilogue 217
Appendix 1
The Higginson Inquiry 221
Appendix 2
The Strickland Inquiry 227
Bibliography 243
Index 249

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