James Saunders


1897 Born Mallow, Co Crk

1901 census in Broom Lane, Mallow


1911 census at 17 Mill Street, Mallow


1921 May 5. Shot Cork

James' older brother John became a Volunteer officer; at the time of the Truce on 11 July 1921 he was serving as first lieutenant of G Company of the 5th (Mallow) Battalion of the Cork No. 4 Brigade.

IRA Witness Statement

‘Statement by Spy Saunders’, in IO First Southern Division F, Florence O’Donoghue’s Report to Chief of Staff Richard Mulcahy, 24 June 1921 (Richard Mulcahy Papers, P7/A/20, UCDA);

He made the following statement on 5 May 1921: ‘I gave information to an English officer in Mallow Barracks of the raid on Mallow Barracks about six months ago [on 28 September 1920]. I said my brother was in [a] motor with other men, and these were the men who raided the barracks. The officer asked me what these men were doing, and I said taking arms. I said that those men’s names were Jack Saunders (my brother), John Daly, and Morgan. The officer gave me fifty pounds and told me to continue getting things. I put this money in the bank after keeping one pound. . . . I met Michael Shiels, who lives in the town of Buttevant. Shiels is an ex-soldier of about forty years. He is 6 ft. high, a smart looking man, sometimes dresses in khaki, and when in ordinary clothes, wears a soft hat, collar, and tie [and] sometimes wears glasses to disguise himself. I knew nothing about the Mallow raid; it was Shiels who told me about it, and he told me to go and tell the officer. Shiels and I were keeping in touch with each other to give the game away on the Sinn Feiners. After this I came to work for T. Donovan, Farran. I worked there two days and two nights. I got information from a farm labourer named Mike Sullivan, who works for Donovan. This Sullivan is a tall, stout man with a heavy black moustache, and he lives in Mourne Abbey but works for Donovan. Sullivan told me an ambush was to come off on the following day near Buckley’s Quarry. Next day I walked to Mallow where I met Shiels. We went to the barracks, and I told Captain Friskey what I heard. I told him there were going to be about forty men take part in the ambush. He (the officer) asked me who told me this and I said Sullivan. The officer said I was a good boy and gave me ten pounds. . . . Shiels and I slept in the barracks that night. We came out with eight lorries next morning, and we were dressed in khaki, the same as the rest of the soldiers. We ran into the ambush at the quarry and the soldiers opened fire. I did too. We killed two men. I killed one of those; he wore black clothes, gaiters, grey cap, and a green scarf. They took the two dead men and three prisoners in the lorries to Mallow. The names of the three men (prisoners) were—Ronayne, Mulcahy, and Barrett. Shiels and I went around Mallow town next day. Shiels asked me to go to Cork with him and we went in a military lorry. We came straight to Cork. We remained about a fortnight in khaki knocking about Cork. We were told to knock about the city and go into the country now and then. We were to stay in Salvation [Army] House in the nights while we were in the city. We were told to be on the lookout for Tad[h]g Sullivan. We were told to go up Blarney St., and we got the names of four men wanted. Mrs. O’Brien of 9 Blarney St. told him [Shiels] where those men lived. The officer told me to go around Carrignavar seeing if any strangers [were] knocking about.’


Shot by IRA as British spies