Twenty two year old William
(Liam) Heffernan was employed by the Commercial
Hotel, Midleton as a chauffeur. When off duty, the car he drove was often
used to convey
of the local IRA
battalion to various locations where they
organised and trained outlying units.
On the evening of November 27th, 1920, he and four members of the fourth battalion were
car which was parked outside a premises then owned by Whites
(now Barrys) near the bridge at Castlemartyr. The battalion Vice Commandant had
gone to Whites to
transact some business.
Two members of the local RIC had visited
Cork city that day
and returned by train to Mogeely, the nearest
station to Castlemartyr. They then
cycled back to the village and one of them recognised Liam Heffernan
as he sat in the car reading a newspaper.
Knowing him to be a member
of the IRA, both policemen approached the car and began to question the
immediately the shooting began. Onlookers claimed that the police constable fired on the occupants
although this has never been confirmed. Upon hearing the gunfire outside, the IRA officer in Whites
rushed out and while firing at
the police, succeeded in getting into the car. In the exchange of gunfire the constable was killed and
the sergeant was also hit. Liam Heffernan,
seriously wounded, managed
to start the
car and drive it away. He swung the car sharply
over the bridge and onto the Mogeely road but it had
not gone far before it became obvious that the driver was dying. One of his companions then took over the wheel and
they eventually reached Conna, where the
local doctor pronounced Liam
monument to William Heffernan, near the scene of
his shooting at Castlemartyr.
His body was taken
to the home of his relatives where a wake took place. In the early hours of the morning
of Monday November 29th, he
was interred in Knockmourne
cemetery, where a Celtic cross now
marks his grave.
An inscribed stone monument to his memory
was unveiled in Castlemartyr on
Sunday May 23rd, 1971,
just a short distance from the
place where he was shot.