Bryan Fergus Molloy, ES/59087 (real name Frederick McNulty)

mulloy murder

Odd thing about this man is that he appears to have no past. His CWGC grave indicates a service number and confirms his name. No MIC exists, which one would have thought would for a man born 1896. He is not in censuses for 1901 or 1911 in England or Ireland. There is no birth record for him in England or Ireland. The service number is indicative of enlistment late in 1919. I reach the conclusion that he was a deep undercover agent put in by Basil Thompson, similar to Angliss who was shot on Bloody Sunday. Angliss was operating under the name Paddy Mahon and it took some time for his real name to emerge.

His "Soldiers Effects " entry gives "Bryan Frederick Molloy" and his father as James McNulty as next of kin, perhaps pointing to our man here a being really a McNulty. In fact his Pension Card (Fold3) shows that he really was Frederick McNulty, and father James McNulty living at 29 Brougham St, West Gorton, Manchester)

The trick is now to find Frederick McNulty, which is comparatively easy up to 1911, then he weaves in and out of records until his death in 1920


1897 Apr/Jun Born Manchester. His death in Irish GRO indicates this as a birth, but no birth exists in Ireland. In fact the 1901 census shows Frederick McNulty was born in Manchester of an Irish father. The 1911 census shows his father born in Mayo, and there are 12 James McNulty registered births at Swinford between 1870 and 1875 (Foxford, quoted in reports on Molloy is about 10 km from Swinford). There also a number possible marriages of his parents around 1896

1901 Census. Living in Manchester

1910 Sep 1. Admitted to the Chorlton Workhouse (father and mothr of 6 Hinde St, Gorton)

1910 Oct 10 He was retrieved from the workhouse by his father

1911 census Living at 6 Hinde St, Gorton, Manchester

There is no commissioning of a Frederick McNulty

1914 Feb 4. Enlisted in ASC as 33784 Frederick Vernon McNulty. Claimed to be 18 years 2 months . He would have been 16 years old

1914 Mar 16. Discharged for "mistatement of age"

The chances are that he re-enlisted under another name, but the chances of getting him are not high.

1917 Sep 28 Enlisted as Frederick Vernon Maximilian McNulty. He claimed to be a commercial traveller.

1918 Apr 1. Transfers to RAF

1918 May 21 Deserted

1919 Aug 13 His RASC number issued. He has a RASC number of ES/59087 and we know that #ES/59085 was issued 13 Aug 1919 . The ES pre-fix was a post war enlistment so we know he had probably re-enlisted. And the fact that there is no war gratuity on the effects could certainly support that he had served previously and the war gratuity had already been paid on discharge from that period of service.


1920 Mar 25 Private Fergus Bryan Molloy, who worked with Colonel Hill Dillion, Assissant chief of GHQ Intelligence staff in Dublin Castle in Parkgate St, is shot dead at the corner of Wicklow Street and South William Street, Dublin City. Dolans WS states that Mick McDonnell and Tom Keogh did the shooting

Witnesses at the inquest said the man had been followed by a number of men before the shooting, the man was wearing civilian clothes. Molloy was a Clerk at Royal Barracks and was unarmed when shot. The inquest also heard no relatives of the dead man were present at his funeral

Richard Bennett in "The Black and Tans" has Fergus Brian Molloy as - "a soldier with an English accent who professed to be a patriotic Irishman".

Ryle Dwyer's 'Michael Collins:The Man Who Won The War': 'After Byrne another British agent also managed to meet Collins at O'Connor's home [Batt O'Connor, Collins' driver]. Fergus Bryan Molloy was also offering to procure arms. He was a soldier working for the Secret Service, but his fate was sealed when Collins' people in Dublin Castle warned him of Molloy's true purpose. He was gunned down by the Squad in broad daylight on South William Street three weeks to the day after Byrne.'

Dwyer's The Squad has a full account of the shooting and the background to it, but no background on Molloy. The shooting was carried out by 4 of the squad, McDonnell and Slattery did the killings and Vinny Byrne and Keogh were to cover them. It comes from the Witness statements of various of the people concerned

Padraic O'Farrell's 'Who's Who In The Irish War Of Independence And Civil War 1916-1923': Mulloy, Fergus B.: Allegedly the last British spy who attempted to contact Collins during the war. He worked in the Pay Office at Parkgate and promised arms and passes to Batt O'Connor, Collins' driver. After initial promises to acquire arms proved fruitless he offered to take Liam Tobin, Cullen and Frank Thornton into Dublin Castle to obtain information. They refused but requested assistance in executing a British Col instead. This officer vacated his house soon afterwards and Mulloy was found dead in Wicklow St March 1920.

newspapers on Molloy

The body was identified by Sgt James Lynn Hull, RASC

James Lynn Hull's medals came up for sale and now reside in my collection of MSMs. Hull was the soldier from Dublin Castle who ID'd "Molloy". A combination of British War Medal, LS&GC and MSM usually makes an interesting research subject. In this case his "red book" service record survives with the medals. James Hull, born Belfast 1891, enlisted in Dublin in 1910. He served WW1 in Malta (1912-1919) and later Aden and Malta (again). He served a total of nearly 27 years, all in the R.A.S.C. His MSM card records the award for "home service" whilst the London Gazette states it was for service in Malta.

1920 Mar 24 shot Wed evening , the body was unclaimed by Sat evening 27th March and only removed from the mortuary on Tues 30th March for burial that day. Bryan Fergus Molloy. Death Registration: Dublin South. Age (at Death): 24. Vol: 2. Page: 531. CWGC grave at Grangegorman

1920 Mar 24. Freeman's Journal. No Relatives Present.-The remains of the man who was shot in South William Street last week, and who was identified as Private Fergus Molloy, R.A.S.C., were interred at Grangegorman Military Cemetery yesterday. The deceased was accorded a military funeral. The coffin was removed at 2 o'clock from the Meath Hospital and placed on a gun-carriage. Two detachments of military from the Wiltshire Regiment and the R.A.S.C., were present. The band of the former played the "Dead March." No relatives of the deceased were at the funeral.

hansard on Molloy

The MP who asked the question was David Daniel Irving, known as Dan Irving, Labour MP for Burnley from the 1918 General Election until his death on the 25 January 1924. Hansard shows that he had an interest in Irish affairs but not particularily predominant.

Mr. IRVING asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether the man who was shot in Exchequer Street, Dublin, on the 24th instant, was identified by the police as bearing the name of Molloy; whether, in fact, this name was correct; whether there was any deliberate concealment of the real name; if so, can he state the reason; and whether the man had at one time been in the Dublin Metropolitan Police?
Mr. MACPHERSON This man was identified by the military authorities as Bryan Fergus Molloy, under which name he enlisted, and, as far as is known, this was his correct name. He was at no time a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police.

So somebody thought that Molloy was not his real name, and must mave been tipped off to ask the question. Depending on your point of view the answer is either crystal clear that it was born Bryan Fergus Molloy, or that was merely the name he was serving under.

There seems to have been an amount of correspondence over who got a pension from his death. Both his mother and father lived at 29 Brougham St, West Gorton (address on both pension cards), but only his mother seems to have got a pension. And his aunt Fay Madden living in Chicago, also got a pension as a "dependant".

Of interest is "Mr Pullen" to whom future correspondence was to be addressed. This is presumably because of the nature of Molloy's work.

1923 Jun 11. His fathers request for a pension is turned down (see pension card)


Dublin Castle Intelligence