Peter Monaghan Deserter from British Army

Tom Barry in Guerilla Days mentions Monaghan a number of times. He says Monaghan was born in Scotland of Irish parents and deserted to the IRA with his rifle. Ambushes & Armour say Monaghan was a Royal Engineer attached to the Cameron Highlanders. Liam Deasy in Towards Ireland Free mentions him extensively. Everyone seems to agree that Peter Monaghan was not his real name, but in fact it was. Or at least the identity of "Peter Monaghan" was real.

Deasy in "Towards Ireland Free"goes into some detail on Monaghan. It was 24th Dec 1920 at 11pm when 2 British deserters were noticed , and actually called at Deasy's house for food and cigarettes. His mother supplied them with both, but as the deserters left the house they were arrested by the IRA. They held the two at Knockpolgue in Kilbrittain area. What struck Deasy as odd was that the two men had virtually nothing in common. Monaghan was a well educated man, far above the standard of the average British soldier. The other man gave his name as Tommy Clarke and was uneducated

Monaghan spoke with the accent of a well educated Scotsman. He said they had left Ringaskiddy 3 days before and had travelled across country to try to meet with and to offer to help the IRA. Monaghan claimed that he had been a Captain in the RE during the war. On being demobilised he discovered there was nothing for him back in Scotland and had joined the Cameron's under the assumed name of Peter Monaghan. Deasy says that normally they would have shot the men as spies, but they were intrigued by Monaghan's claim to have been a mining engineer before the war, and to know something about explosives. For that reason they decided to take him on to make mines for them. No mention is made of what happened to Clarke

The balance of probability is that Monaghan was a British spy. If he was he was a very brave man. My feeling is that the real Peter Monaghan was ensnared by Basil Thomson who might have offered Monaghan some sort of deal which would have enabled Monaghan to start a new life and have his past wiped clean. The British got him to USA in Nov 1919 (right place of birth, father and father's address). I think he stayed in USA and did not return for the bigamy trial. The bigamy trial in Mar 1920 was a put up job to enable a new "Peter Monaghan" to emerge, after the prison sentence would have ended in Sep 1920. This enabled the "new" Peter Monaghan to go to Ireland in Nov 1920, and immediately desert to join the IRA in Dec 1920

The 1907 army enlistment for Monaghan shows that he had "fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair". Deasy who interrogated the deserter in 1920 said his complexion was sallow, his hair fair, his eyes bright penetration and intelligent. While not conclusive, the passage time and the rigours of war , it does perhaps point to the emergence of a different "Monaghan" in Ireland. In additon thee is an IRA photo (The Road to Crossbarry 1999 by Diarmuid Begley) that proports to show Monaghan with 3 other volunteers, and he is strikingly taller than the other men, whereas his army record gives him as 5ft 6in

H|is pension card gives us a window on his life

1889 Born Larkhall, Lanark

1891 at 32 Louden St, Larkhall

Wallace Monaghan 27 Head
Elizabeth Monaghan 30 Wife
John Monaghan 3 Son
Peter Monaghan 1 Son
Agnes Monaghan 1 Mo Daur (Daughter)

1901 census at 20 Elderslie , Kilmaurs, Ayrshire

Wallace Monaghan 36 Head
Elizabeth Monaghan 38 Wife
John Monaghan 13 Son
Peter Monaghan 11 Son
Agnes Monaghan 10 Daur (Daughter)
Wallace Monaghan 8 Son
James Monaghan 5 Son
William Monaghan 3 Son
David Monaghan 1 Son

1907 Nov 8 enlisted #1387 in RE. He was a miner Parents Wallace & Elizabeth of Cowdenbeath. "Peter Orr Monaghan" - his mother was Elizabeth Orr

1907 Nov 19 transfers to RAMC

1910 Feb 18 dismissed - misconduct . H is service record does not detail what it was for

1911 census at Mosside Rd, Cowdenbeath

1914 Aug 8 enlisted in Cameron Highlanders 6th btn as William David

1915 Jul 10 Landed in France

1915 Aug 29 transfers to RE - 180 coy

1915 Sep 26 He was wounded (gsw throat) with 180 Tunneling Co and evacuated to England.

1916 Feb 18 made a legal deposition that his real name was Peter Monaghan, and army records changed to that

1916 Jan/Mar married in Medway, Kent to Freda Edmonds

1916 Nov 11 admitted to hospital with scalp wound while carrying rations to the front

1917 Apr 9 to 18 May 17 in Hospital with heart disease

1917 May 25 transfer to Thetford Base

1917 Dec 8 transfers to 171 RE Coy

1919 Jan 4 to Jan 9 Attached to 171 Tunneling Coy

1919 Apr 3 transfers to Z Reserve

1919 May 28 deserted

1919 Jun 20 married (bigamously) Christina Goodfellow in Dundee

1919 Nov 18 leaves UK for USA

His entry card shows born Larkhill, Scotland, father is Wallace of Mossside Rd. He says he is a Mine Inspector whose last permanent address was at Arbroath, Scotland, and he is going to a friend, Walter Muir at PO39 ,Eccles , West Virginia

1920 Mar gets 6 months for bigamy

1920 Nov 22 deserts again according to his MIC

1920 Dec 24 "deserts" and is picked up by the IRA

1920 Dec 31 Monaghan made mines for an attack on Kilbrittain RIC station - none of them worked

Monaghan posed as an Auxiliary officer in a suspected informers house, and his accent and bearing got the informer to give himself away. The informer was shot

1921 Jan 25 an attack on Innishannon RIC station was to be carried out using one of Monaghan's mines. Again it did not work

1921 Feb 11 an attack on Drimoleague Barracks with mines. The mine did explode, but failed to cause enough damage to break the walls. The explosion blew outwards rather than inwards.

1921 Feb 12 Monaghan was missing from IRA parade, and remained absent till 5 pm the next day. His story was that he had smelled poteen as he was escaping from the raid on Drimoleague, and had gone into the Poteen house to sample the whiskey. He said it took him 12 hours to recover from the effects. He then set off to find the column. Deasy still cannot work out how Monaghan found the column in that desolate countryside

1921 Mar 19 at Crossbarry Monaghan was in charge of one of the two mines - the one near Crossbarry Bridge. It failed to fire. Monaghan appears to have been shot near the mine and lay dead. An IRA volunteer, Lordan, tried to retrieve the plunger detonator, and accidentally set the mine off, as he wrestled with the mine wires. I can find nothing to substantiate the claim that some of his mines were used 12 days later at Roscarberry

Monaghan's family were entitled to a IRA medal and a pension from the Free State, but neither were claimed. However Monaghan rests today in an IRA grave at Bandon