Saturday, May 29, 2010

Remembering Kilcullen's Great War dead

There is a set of men to whom, as far as I know, there is no memorial in Kilcullen. And perhaps it is time there was.

Back in 2007 I wrote a piece in the Diary about Pte Patrick O'Toole, killed at Gallipoli in the First World War. He was the son of Patrick and Bridget O'Toole, of Yellowbog Common, and an antecedent of Ray Donoghue, formerly of Kilcullen Drama Group and still doing duty from time to time as barman in Fallons.

I have since found references to no less than 28 other Kilcullen men who died in that same war. Three of them were also killed in the same Dardanelles which claimed Patrick O'Toole's young life, most died in France, and one perished in East Africa.

They were officially aged between 20 and 36, most were private soldiers, with seven NCOs and just one commissioned officer in the list. The bulk of them are recorded as having been with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, three each with the Irish Guards and Royal Irish Regiment, and one each with the Royal Garrison Artillery, Royal Irish Fusiliers, Royal Engineers and Connaught Rangers.

I have managed to establish where some of their families lived, and I surmise some others, but would be very grateful for any more definite information.

The first family I'm clear on is the Cookes of Sunnyhill. Former 65th Foot member and army pensioner William Cooke and his wife Annie lost their son William at the age of 30 in the Dardanelles in 1915, and their son John, also at the age of 30 in France in 1917. John was decorated with the 1914 Star, while William won the Medal of St George 2nd Class and a Distinguished Conduct Medal. The Cookes were left with two younger sons Robert and Patrick, and a daughter Bridget.

Gunner Joseph James, from Gilltown, died in East Africa in 1917. A man of that name lived in Grangemore in 1911, on his own, and may have joined up somewhat late in life. If so, he'd have been 38 when he was killed.

The aforementioned Patrick O'Toole's mother was already dead in 1911, but he left his father Patrick and his younger sister Ellen behind when he went off to a war from which he wouldn't return.

Edward Wolfred of Milemill was a Post Boy in 1911 and was 22 when he was killed in the Dardanelles in 1916. He left behind his mother Mary Anne, and sisters Rose, Maggie and Bridget.

A Christopher Grimes who was killed in France in 1916 at the age of 30 might have been related to the Grimes families of Yellowbog Common, because that seems to have been the only location of any Grimes in the Kilcullen area at the time.

I have a suspicion that a John Kavanagh killed in France in 1916 may have been the son of John and Bridget Kavanagh in Kilcullen Town. If so, his siblings would have been Bridget, Edward, Margaret, Mary, Michael, Annie, Jane and Thomas. A Joseph Nugent who lived with the family was perhaps Bridget's brother?

A Charles Doyle killed in France in 1915 at the age of 25 may have been related to the Doyles of Yellowbog Common, because there was an elder Charles Doyle living there. But the Doyle name was very common around Kilcullen and he may well have been related to any of them. A Joseph Doyle was also killed in France, in 1917 at the age of 20.

Kiernan Lyons was killed in France in 1915. The only Lyons family in the area at the time was in Halverstown, so perhaps there's a link there?

A Joseph O'Neill killed in France in 1914 might have been one of the O'Neills of the Toberogan area.

The remaining names may also jog some family folklores. James Brady, Peter Burke, Patrick Cahill, J Conway, Sergeant Doran, J Dowling, Thomas Hayden, TC Jones-Nowlan, John Kearney, Frank Kelly, Edward Kinehan, Thomas Neill, Edward George Noble, Edward Nolan, W Peaston, Robert and Michael Walker, and Patrick White.

These were the ones who didn't come home. But even from such a horrific conflict, it was the case that some did. Any stories about them would also be useful.