Historical Biographies War of Independence

James Mary Quain

on this day: a tragic loss of young life

On this day May 10th 1921, a young man named James Quain lost his life during an engagement in the War of Independence. That day a party of British Marines from Ardmore Coast Guard Station were on patrol carrying out ‘round-up’ operations in the Piltown/Monatrea area. Some local volunteers and others from the Flying Column itself were in the vicinity of Monatrea when four or five of them became isolated not far from Moord Cross Roads and were taken by complete surprise by the Marines. The volunteers had to flee and disperse under heavy fire, with the tragic result being that young James Quain from Youghal was mortally wounded as he tried to get away.

James Mary Quain (1901-1921)

It was said at the time that the local volunteers had been raiding the mails frequently and also the local Ardmore Company had been periodically sniping the Coast Guard Station to keep pressure on the Marines who were stationed there. Furthermore, just a few days previous on May 7th, after a dance at the military barracks in Youghal, three ex-soldiers and two young girls were shot at when returning home. One man died and another man and one of the girls were seriously wounded. This was the backdrop for increased patrols from the Crown Forces on both sides of the bridge and no doubt revenge attacks were in mind.

James Quain Monument

James was just 19 years of age at the time of his death. His family were well-known business people in Youghal where they kept a Fishmonger and Grocery business at South Main Street and he is fondly remembered in the town with the housing estate Quains Terrace located on Cork Hill being named in his memory, a mere short distance from where the Youghal Military Barracks stood at the time (near the Cottage Hospital). A monument was later erected by some Youghal I.R.A. members at the spot where he was killed across from the new school in Piltown. The memorial states the following (as Gaeilge):

In memory of James M Quain of Youghal
Killed by foreigners 10 May 1921 at the age of 19 years
Youghal I.R.A, former prisoners, erected this monument

He is also remembered on the Piltown Ambush Memorial near Piltown Cross. Go dtuga Dia suaimhneas sioraí dó.


Irish Military Archives Witness Statements
Biography of Robert George Torrens; Richard Torrens
James Quain Photo Credit: Liam Allen

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