The pride of Donoughmore!

Donoughmore’s Saoirse Ní Shiocháin never imagined her school history project would become a podcast in the highly acclaimed award winning RTÉ ‘Doc on One’ series. As reported by Dolan O’Hagan in the Irish Examiner, “Having overheard stories about the central role of her own Parish in the capture and execution of a British army officer during the War of Independence in Cork in 1921, Saoirse Ní Shiocháin decided to delve into the story a little deeper. When her school project was completed in 2018 it told the very human and tragic story of Welsh Fussilier Major Geoffrey Lee Compton-Smith who was executed by local IRA men in the Cork townland of Donoughmore. Compton-Smith was captured in Blarney following an ill-fated decision to leave his barracks and venture out alone to meet – it is suggested – a local nurse with whom it is suggested he was having an affair. Selected as the winner of the UCC Decade of Centenaries Schools History project in 2018 the story highlighted, in particular, local recollections of the incident and a number of letters written by the art loving soldier before his final execution near a house in Barrahaurin, Donoughmore. In the letters, written over 11 days of captivity, the decorated soldier – who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (GSO) for ‘conspicuous gallantry’ during World War 1 – not only expressed his undying love for his wife and daughter but also revealed a growing respect for his IRA captors who he said “are doing what they earnestly believe to be right.” He also appeals to his men in barracks not to seek reprisals and said that he would die like a soldier “with a laugh and forgiveness” and hoped his death would “lessen rather than increase the bitterness which exists between England and Ireland.” Now Saoirse’s project has been brought to life by the RTÉ ‘Doc on One’ team. Using actors and fresh interviews with local historians and descendants of men and women who were directly involved in the incident – from England to Donoughmore – the RTÉ radio documentary is certain to bring this very human story to a whole new audience at home and abroad. Reacting to the documentary’s release Saoirse – who is studying music at University College Cork and is a keen gaelic footballer with Donoughmore Ladies – revealed how delighted she was with the latest chapter in the story. Saoirse went on to say she was delighted the documentary would shed more light on the story and those who fought for Irish freedom 100 years ago.” @IrishExaminer

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