Connie Mackey -- Bio
Bio

Cornelius McNamara, better known to his friends and fellow volunteers as Connie Mackey, lived at No. 1 Blackboy Pike, off Mulgrave Street. Before settling at St Anne's, 78 Clanmorris Avenue, off Shelbourne Road. He entered this world on the 6th April 1896, the only child of Michael McNamara, a pork butcher, and Mary (nee Greo) of Blackboy Pike.Mary died after a four-month battle with TB, on 28th April, 1900, in the City Home Hospital.Three years later, Michael remarried, to Hanorah Minihan, and they had seven children, Patrick, Tom, Mamie, Babe, Michael, Josie and Christopher.

Like so many of his contemporaries, Cornelius received his formative education in the Christian Brothers School, Sexton Street, which, a century on, continues to be one of the leading learning establishments in the region. He was a keen hurler and was a member of the Faughs GAA club, which drew its membership from the Ballysimon-Blackboy-Pike area area. On leaving school, he, just as did his brothers, served his time as a pork butcher, before joining the Irish Volunteers.

Like his father Michael, Connie was also married twice. His first wife Sara (Sally), five years younger, was daughter of Jeremiah and Bridget Donnelly, originally from Fair Hill Galway. Jeremiah was a sailor, and he and Sara later lived in 2, Hasset's Villas, Thomondgate, Cornelius and Sara took up residence at number 1. Sara also served as a volunteer in Limerick, in one of the 10 Limerick branches of Cumann na mBan,, the Women’s Auxiliary Unit of the Irish Volunteers. She gave birth to his only daughter, Patricia, in 1930. Sara died in 1935, from the dreaded TB disease, in the City Home Limerick.

Seven months later, Cornelius married Mary (May) Moakley, who was one year younger than him; she was daughter to Patrick Moakley, a farmer from Clenor in Co Cork.

During the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War, he served initially in C Company, Limerick City Battalion, under Commandant Michael P. Colivet. He assisted as a despatch rider, and his home, No. 1 Blackboy Pike, became a despatch centre from 1917 until his arrest in 1920.

When Ernest Blyth, Peadar McMahon and Peadar Dunne arrived in Limerick from Dublin on a recruitment campaign to form the 2nd Battalion Mid-Limerick Brigade early in 1917, Cornelius was one of the first to join. He served under commandant Peadar Dunne, until he was arrested by Crown Forces in March, 1921, and then under Commandant Liam Forde. He was also a member of the IRB and a member of the P.H. Pearse Sinn Fein Club, which started the first Volunteer Company of the 2nd Battalion. He gave outstanding service during the War of Independence and Civil War, and was awarded the War of Independence medal with combat bar (the combat bar only being awarded to volunteers who had been in actual combat). He was imprisoned in England and Ireland, by the British and then by the Free State. The British interned him in Mount Brown RIC Barracks, Cork Jail, Wormwood Scrubbs, Winchester, Birmingham, Spike Island and Maryborough Convict Prison (now Portlaoise).

During the Civil War he commanded three of the four army barracks in Limerick, the Ordnance Barracks, the Castle Barracks and finally the Strand Barracks where he made his heroic stand against armoured cars, machine gun and mortar fire. Finally when everything else failed to dislodge him, the Free State turned an 18-pounder Artillery Gun on the barracks. This was the only time a siege gun was used in Limerick since the siege of 1691. In order to prevent needless loss of life Connie surrendered. The Free State interned him in Limerick Prison, Internment ship SS Arvonia, Gormanstown Camp, and finally, Mountjoy. While in Limerick, he was the prisoners' O/C. When interned aboard the Internment ship SS Arvonia, he was elected Republican Commandant. Connie went on hunger strike four times to protest against the inhumane conditions in various prisons.

He was eventually released on December 23rd, 1923, and he became secretary for the Irish Republican Dependants Fund, in 1924, for two years. After the war, he was forced to emigrate twice after being victimised in his trade as a pork butcher. When he returned to Limerick, he found work as a rent collection officer in the Limerick Corporation.

Unfortunately Connie had a heart attack around Sunday the 8th December and died a week later on Sunday 15th December 1957 at home in St. Anne's and his wife May was by his side when he died. On Tuesday the 17th Connie was buried with full Military honours with an officer and six men, of 12th Infantry Battalion from Sarsfield Barracks as his firing party. His coffin was draped with a Tricolour which was presented to his daughter Patricia.