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Innocent Local Shot By British Forces

by Jimmy Rhatigan

A local community will never forget to remember an innocent local man who was gunned down by a British Soldier in a South Kilkenny parish.
That was the message as family and friends marked the 100th anniversary of the shooting in cold blood of 23 years old James Hoban of Mullinavat, 100 years ago on April 19.
A machine gun was used as the death weapon as the War of Independence raged.
A farmer’s son from Glendonnell, the victim was selling pigs at Mullinavat Fair, accompanied by his elderly uncle, James Walsh.
Mr Hoban was hit by several bullets from a gun mounted on the top of a Rolls Royce Armoured Car by a Private McCullagh of the British Forces.
It is believed that young Hoban was struck in both legs from a distance of about 60 yards.
He was carried to the then Costello’s Shop in the village where his wounds were dressed and was rushed to the County and City Infirmary, Waterford where he died shortly afterwards.

Liam Kenneally, son of the late Richard Kenneally of the old IRA

James Hoban had become the forgotten victim of an incident where he was mown down even though he had no active part in the War of Independence.
The memorial service was in St Beacon’s Cemetery, Mullinavat.
There was strict adherence to Covid-19 restrictions. A limited attendance of locals was welcomed by Sean Maher who thanked Fr Liam Barron for the green light for the event at the grave of James Hoban.
The Quarter Master General of the old IRA in South Kilkenny, Richard Kenneally was also represented. A hymn was led by Michael Aylward.
A song recalling the shooting, written by Tom McEvoy, was sung with gusto by the composer.


Tom McEvoy who wrote a song on the shooting of James Hoban

A cross was placed at the Hoban grave by a member of the family and Liam Kenneally, Richard Kenneally’s eldest son, placed a Tricolour Garland at the burial spot.
The cross was donated by Martin Power of Power Undertakers, Ferrybank whose great grandfather Tom Power and his wife, Catherine O’Neill had buried James Hoban in 1921.
Sean Maher, with the aid of information kindly provided by author and historian, Eoin Walsh, recalled events on the tragic day a century ago.
Sean said British Soldiers, with some Black and Tans and Auxiliaries had arrived from Dublin on the morning of the fair and had posted a large military presence to Mullinavat.
The soldier who fired the shots was later found not guilty of the shooting because the ‘fuse was too light’ on the machine gun and the killing was described at an enquiry as ‘an accidental killing’.
The verdict resulted in anger in the greater South Kilkenny community and beyond.
Sean Maher thanked Bernie Kirwan who during the course of an audit of graves discovered James Hoban’s Grave.
He had been originally buried in an Aylward-Walsh family, Bucketstown grave.
Before Hoban’s internment, the last person to be buried in the grave was in 1798.
It is the aim of the local community to erect a memorial stone in the cemetery at the Hoban grave.
Anyone who wishes to donate to the project can contact Sean Maher.

Noreen and Pat Hoban with Sean Maher at the grave of James Hoban

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