Even Strong Men Were Moved to Tears

“Even Strong Men Were Moved to Tears”

The Death and Funeral of Michael Hogan

This year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the biggest atrocities ever witnessed, not just in Ireland, but across the globe as British authorities attacked innocent spectators and players in Croke Park as the footballers of Tipperary and Dublin played out a “great challenge match” in front of thousands. The event shocked the world and resulted in the death of fourteen people with hundreds more injured while many in England began to seriously question what was happening in Ireland in their name.

Michael Hogan

The most famous victim of that awful day was Tipperary left full-back, Michael Hogan, from Grangemockler. He was no different from the players representing Tipperary in 2020. A young man fulfilling his dream of representing his county in Gaelic football on the biggest stage of all and for that, unfortunately, he never came home.

The Tipperary team gathered around the spot where Michael Hogan died. This photograph hung in the family pub of Jimmy McNamara in Cahir. Jimmy played on Bloody Sunday and was part of the 1920 All-Ireland winning team.

Hogan’s death resulted in an outpouring of emotion across Ireland as people struggled to comprehend the events that unfolded, over ninety seconds, on Bloody Sunday.

When the shooting commenced Dublin players Frank Burke and Stephen Synnott, along with Hogan, raced towards the centre of the pitch where they lay terrified on the ground and watched the carnage unfold around them. “They’re shooting at someone in the crowd” Burke roared before rolling towards the sideline. The other two followed and they lay together at the edge of the pitch. “We’ll lie in here close” Hogan advised, “we might get some protection” as bullets whizzed overhead. They moved towards the cycle path that circled the field when Burke heard Hogan groan, “I’m shot”. Michael died shortly after.

The following day Tipperary captain Ned O’Shea wired the dreadful news of Hogan’s death to Grangemockler where news of his killing had already arrived but the family had yet to be informed. O’Shea requested that Reverend Fr. O’Leary go to his mother to let her know and he was accompanied by L. Tobin, Ed White and Fr. Fitzgerald. They visited the house in Aughvaneen and his mother, who was in “delicate health” cried “it can’t be true, it can’t be true”.

The surviving Tipperary Bloody Sunday players at a reunion

On Tuesday, Michael’s remains, accompanied by his brother Dan, were brought to the Pro-Cathedral where they remained overnight. His cousin, the Very Rev. Dr. Brown celebrated Requiem Mass with the Tipperary team, supporters who had travelled up for the match, representatives of the Dublin County Board, clubs and Leinster Council in attendance.

His body then travelled to Kingsbridge Station and from there to Clonmel, stopping in Thurles where local counsellors sympathised with Dan Hogan and the Tipperary team. Thousands of mourners had gathered both inside and outside the railway station in Clonmel as the town came to a halt with all businesses and factories closing at 1pm to allow employees attend the funeral.

Fears were raised as a large military force with fixed bayonets marched to the station and took up positions outside. The police there clarified that the Volunteers were in charge and they left the scene much to everyone’s relief. Individual soldiers were placed along the route of the funeral and they respectfully stood to attention and saluted as the remains passed by. Two hundred soldiers were stationed at O’Moore’s Cross outside the town but they did not interfere. The large military force kept to the background and those who were part of the procession paid no attention to them.

This photograph was taken in Croke Park, 22 November 1924. People praying at the spot where Michael Hogan fell.

Irish Volunteers marshalled the crowd and a tri-colour was placed around the coffin while Gaels and Volunteers carried his remains through the silent and head-bowed crowd. A hearse, belonging to Condon’s Funeral Directors, was waiting outside but instead, they continued to shoulder him until they reached Davis Road. The coffin was followed by the Tipperary team, Cumann na mBan and other officials from Clonmel while the Volunteers stood at either side of the road with drawn blinds in all houses while those along the route stood in silence.

Michael’s mother was too ill and upset to attend in Clonmel however his two sisters, Mary aged seventeen and eleven-year-old Maggie, along with his younger brother Patrick were there and their grief was described as “heartbreaking” with the Nationalist newspaper reporting that “even strong men were moved to tears”.

The Tipperary team prior to the Bloody Sunday match

His remains lay overnight, guarded by Volunteers doing two-hour shifts, in the parish church in Grangemockler with a stream of people filing past to pay their respects. A glass lid was fitted so people could see his “calm and happy” face while he was laid out in Jack Kickham’s jersey, shorts and socks.

After funeral mass the following day his coffin was shrouded with the tri-colour, shouldered by members of the Tipperary team and lowered into his final resting place right beside his father. Once it was closed in, eighteen wreaths covered the grave while Volunteers fired three volleys.

This year, the Tipperary footballers wore commemorative Bloody Sunday jerseys, with the image of Michael Hogan on their sleeve, in the brilliant Munster final win over Cork, as they respectfully remembered one of the county’s most famous players.

Enda O’Sullivan

Secretary, Tipperary Bloody Sunday Commemoration Committee

Sources: The Bloodied Field by Michael Foley.

The Nationalist newspaper, November 1920

The men of 2020 stand for a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of 1920