Capt Patrick MacCormack

Capt Patrick J MacCormack, late RAVC killed 21/11/1920. Not buried in CWGC grave. The only son of Patrick and Kate MacCormack who owned the Commercial House, a large drapery and millinery store, in Main Street. MacCormack was a noted amateur jockey and qualified as a Veterinary Surgeon.

1877 Born Castlebar, Co Mayo. The only fit on Irish State Records is Patrick Joseph MacCormack born Castlebar 1877 vol 9, p 128

1901 census not out online yet. There is a Kate MacCormack, a Milliner, listed as 54 years of age, in the premises known now as the Tweed Centre.

1911 census, living at 2 Gurteendrunagh (Market Street), Castlebar with his mother Kate

1911 census

When he was killed, his father was already dead and his mother had moved to Dublin to live. He was the nephew of the Rev Dr, MacCormack, Bishop of Achonry and later of Galway, Charles and Thomas MacCormack, Castlebar and Patrick Feeney, Castlebar. He was a cousin of Miss Madge Feeney, The Marsh, Castlebar, Mrs. Coughlan, National Bank House, Castlebar and Mrs. Dr. Moran, Westport.

Townsfolk was shocked that he had been "one of the chief English spies" as he had played a prominent part in the social life of Castlebar and had appeared regularly at many local entertainments in the Town Hall.

1919 June 1. temp. Lts. to be temp. Capt. P. J. MacCormack. Gazette

1919 Oct MIC shows correspondence with Egypt about his medals

The IRA unit gained access to the rooms of MacCormack and Wilde by pretending to be British soldiers with important dispatches. When the men opened their doors they were shot and killed. A Times listing for MacCormack and Wilde doesn't list any rank for the latter. MacCormack's killing was an IRA mistake, as he was a member of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps and was in Ireland to buy horses for the Army. Collins himself later acknowledged the error.

In his bedroom in the Gresham Hotel, Captain P. McCormack was having breakfast in bed and reading The Irish Field. Lt. L. Wilde was in another room in the hotel and he was also murdered. Patrick MacCormack was shot through the head, in the neck, in the wrist, and in the groin. The racing paper was still in his hand; the blankets were singed from the closeness of the firing. On the next floor Leonard Wilde was later found lying face down on the floor of his room.

McCormack had come to Dublin to purchase horses and was probably shot by mistake. James Doyle, manager of the Gresham Hotel at the time, was one of many who thought that he was a pointless casualty. "At about nine o'clock on the morning of Bloody Sunday," Doyle said, "I was in bed in my room and awakened by noise. It was a muffled kind of thing like the beating of a carpet. The porter called up to my room afterwards and I asked him what the noise I had heard was. He said that Captain McCormack , who was occupying a room quite close to me, had been shot dead. I got out of bed and entered Captain McCormack's room and I saw that he was then dead. The worker also told me that another man had been shot dead in a room on the next floor over Captain McCormack's. I went to this room also and saw the dead man. His surname was Wilde. I was totally ignorant of what took place or why these men were shot at the time. I questioned the porter and he told me that a number of armed men had entered the hotel and asked to be shown to the rooms occupied by these two men."The Gresham's manager said that McCormack had been staying in the hotel since September and had been buying race horses: "He had booked his passage back to Egypt for December on the Holt Line. Although he had been a veterinary surgeon with the British Army there would appear tohave been grave doubt as to his being associated with British intelligence. While he was here I never saw him receiving any guests. He slept well into the afternoon and only got up early when a race meeting was on. When I found him shot in his room, the Irish Field was lying besidehim."

IRA men present in this group of 15 to 20 include:-

Hansard reports. Gresham Hotel, Sackville Street. Two murders. Here a party of fifteen to twenty men entered the open door of the hotel, held up the boots and the head-porter with revolvers and forced the latter, Hugh Callaghan, to lead them to rooms occupied by Ex-Captain Patrick MacCormack, formerly a captain in the Army Veterinary Corps, and Lieutenant L. E. Wilde. The party, one of whom carried a huge hammer, knocked first at Room 14 occupied by Mr. Wilde. He opened the door and asked, "What do you want?" By way of answer three shots were fired into his chest simultaneously. The party then moved to Room 24, which they entered and found Mr. MacCormack sitting in bed reading the paper. Without any communication five shots were fired into his body and head as he sat there. The bed was saturated, and the body, especially the head, was horribly disfigured.

Service record of MacCormack, P J , Royal Army Veterinary Corps Lieutenant , Catalogue reference WO 372/12

WO 35/159B. Proceedings of a court of inquiry in lieu of inquest on Captain P. McCormick (sic) and Mr L. A. Wilde, London Evidence of the medical examiner (this file was closed till 2003) On my list of things to look up there next time I visit!

Captain MacCormack’s mother wrote to Richard Mulcahy in 1922 asking if someone would admit that the shooting of her son was a mistake. She did not want people thinking he was a traitor ; she was related to Michael Davitt after all. There is a copy of this letter from Kate MacCormack to Richard Mulcahy, 23 Mar. 1922, NLI Michael Collins’s papers, A/0535X.

Cairo Gang