Author Archives: Damian Shiels

About Damian Shiels

Archaeologist & Historian

A Russian Veteran who Fought Napoleon Meets a Grizzly End at Rostellan Castle

*WARNING: This post contains some graphic details and descriptions drawn from contemporary newspapers that some readers may find disturbing. 

As Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops trudged away from Moscow on their long and deadly retreat in 1812, among the troops that hounded them were the Cossacks of Count Matvei Ivanovich Platov. Somewhere in Platov’s ranks there was a 30-year-old Russian, who years later, as part of an effort to make his name more comprehensible to Westerners, would adopt the pseudonym “Charles Henson”.


Count Matvei Ivanovich Platov, who supposedly commanded Charles Henson, later a body servant at Rostellan Castle (William Beechey)

The passage of a decade found “Charles” in East Co. Cork, where the Irish and British staff of William O’Brien, the Second Marquess of Thomond, learned of his story in the servant’s quarters of Rostellan Castle. By now aged around 40, Charles claimed to have borne witness to the “burning of Moscow”, shortly afterwards receiving wounds to the head which still caused him frequent pain and distress. His general demeanour certainly matched that of a man who had seen too much of the horrors of war. He was described as having a “rather sullen temper” and was “easily excited to anger”. Nonetheless, he was also regarded as being of “sober habits” and “attentive to his business”. That business was being the body servant to the Marquis, a role he had taken up around 1820, when William O’Brien had hired him in Paris.

Shortly after 9pm on the night of 15th July 1822, one of Charles’s colleagues- butler Michael Bryant- was beginning to wind down after a long day. There was always much to do when family members were resident in Rostellan. He had just sat down in his room- which adjoined the Castle’s back staircase-when the silence was pierced by a violent scream. Leaping to his feet, Michael rushed out into the passage, just in time to see the Marquis’s daughter Sarah falling on the stairs near the first landing, blood on her hand. Running to her aid, he saw her assailant fleeing through the door at the foot of the staircase, leading to the courtyard. It was the unmistakable form of Charles Henson.




Napoleon looks on as Moscow burns. Charles Henson claimed to have been present during these events (Unknown German artist)

Within moments the entire Castle was in pandemonium. As shouts and roars erupted throughout the rooms, Michael Bryant led the injured Lady Sarah to the dining-room so her wound could be examined. Charles had apparently tried to stab Sarah in the chest, but she had deflected the blow with her right hand. With his charge now safe and surrounded by fellow servants, Michael set off in hot pursuit of his Russian colleague.

The noise and confusion that swept through Rostellan Castle reached the ears of Mary Cahill, one of the maid-servants. With a lighted candle in her hand, Mary headed off along a passage leading from the rear to the front of the house to investigate. As she passed the coal-hole, Charles Henson rushed from the shadows with a knife, attempting to stab her. Luckily for her, he missed, and the lunge glided by her side. Charles seemed to be wounded, and was clutching his midriff. He dashed past Mary down the corridor.


Rostellan Castle Photograph Adapted

Rostellan Castle in the second-half of the nineteenth century

Michael Bryant and other members of the staff were now scouring the building for Charles. Eventually, they came to the Music Room. Opening the doors they finally came upon him, horrifically injured. Michael remembered that he was standing in a “stooping posture, with his belly cut in a dreadful manner, and his intenstines falling out about the floor”. The wounds had apparently been self-inflicted.

Lord James O’Brien, the Marquis’s brother (and further 3rd Marquis) took hold of Charles, who was said to be “speaking in an incoherent manner”. It was immediately apparent that he did not have long to live, and so he was carried back to his room. In the hours that followed, some lucidity returned, and on a number of occasions Charles expressed regret for having attacked Lady Sarah, hoping she was unhurt. He lingered on until 11am the next morning, when he eventually died.



The 1812 Battle of Borodino, one of the most famous engagements of the Napoleonic Wars. Charles Henson may well have fought there (Franz Roubaud)

Understandably, the incident caused a major sensation, and was reported in newspapers across Ireland and Britain. The Coroner’s Inquest reached the following verdict with respect to the case:

We find that the said Charles Henson came by his death in consequence of several stabs inflicted by himself on the belly with a case knife, of which he languised until this morning, and then he died. And we further find that the deceased was at the time he so destroyed himself labouring under mental derangement.

The general tenor of the reporting and the statements provided by witnesses suggests that there was genuine sympathy for Charles Henson, whose acts, at least in so far as was recognisable in the 1820s, had seemingly come out of the blue. That was likely of small comfort to Lady Sarah and Mary Cahill, who both had to live with the mental scars of the attack. The pains in the head of which Charles had frequently complained were retrospectively seen as a possible contributing factor to his behaviour that night. Perhaps they were, and perhaps Charles was also suffering from what we now recognise as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, reliving in East Cork the horrors of campaigns and battles that had occurred thousands of miles away on the approaches to Moscow.


Freeman’s Journal 23 July 1822.

The Times 24 July 1822.





Categories: Rostellan | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Search of Rostellan Castle, Part 2: The Inchiquin O’Briens & Rostellan

Though it is a title and name we associate most with Co. Clare, between the 17th and 19th centuries the seat of the Inchiquin O’Briens was Rostellan Castle on the shores of Cork Harbour. As we covered in Part 1 of the series, Murrough O’Brien, Lord Inchiquin, was the first of his family to take control of Rostellan in the 17th century. In this post we will explore all the O’Briens who possessed Rostellan, with particular reference their interactions with the Castle and its demense, many of which remain imprinted on the landscape today.


Preserved as an entrance to a farmer’s field, this was once one of the principal entrances to the Inchiquin Castle at Rostellan, which stood in the far corner of the field (Damian Shiels)

Murrough O’Brien (c. 1616 – 1674), 6th Baron and 1st Earl of Inchiquin

Made Rostellan Castle his principal residence in Ireland, spending time there during the 1660s and 1670s.

Murrough, known to history as “Murchadh na dTóiteán” (Murrough of the Burnings), was the first of the O’Briens to make Rostellan Castle his home. Though his forces had briefly taken Rostellan following the 1645 siege, it was not until the restoration of Charles II that he lived there for any duration. Raised a Protestant, he earned his nickname for his ruthless prosecution of the war in the 1640s against Catholic Irish Confederates and civilians. Among his most notable victories during the conflict were at Liscarroll in 1642 and Knocknanuss in 1647, where he effectively destroyed the Confederate Army of Munster. His shifting allegiances during that period generally centred around a pursuit of his best interests and those of Munster Protestants. Though he moved to support Parliament in 1644, he maintained Royalist leanings and in 1648 he switched sides again. Cromwell’s victory in 1650 forced him into exile on the continent with other Royalists. He spent much of that decade as the French appointed Governer of Catalonia, and he converted to Catholicism in 1657. He had his son were captured by Algerian Corsairs in 1660, and the newly restored monarchy had to pay a ransom for his release. He spent much of the late 1660s and early 1670s managing his lands in Cork and Clare, the period when he was most frequently resident at Rostellan. At his death in 1674 he requested that he be buried in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, long associated with the O’Briens. His infamous reputation among Irish Catholics for his actions during the 1640s have insured that he remains the most famed and notorious of Rostellan’s residents.

See John A Murhy, “O’Brien, Murrogh”, Dictionary of Irish Biography.

Wright, John Michael, 1617-1694; Murrough O'Brien, 1st Earl of Inchiquin

Murrough O’Brien, 1st Earl of Inchiquin, and the first O’Brien of Rostellan Castle. Painted between 1660 and 1670. (Manchester Art Gallery)

William O’Brien (c. 1640 – 1692), 2nd Earl of Inchiquin

Spent time at Rostellan Castle in the 1670s and 1680s.

Murrough’s son William succeeded to the Earldom following his father’s death (prior to which he was known as Lord O’Brien). Imprisoned in the Tower of London as a child by the Parliamentarians. He served with his father in Catalonia, and remained a Protestant after his father’s conversion. William lost an eye when he and his father were captured by the Algerian corsairs in 1660. Appointed to the Irish Privy Council in 1671, in 1674 he became the Governor of Tangier and Captain General of the King’s Forces there, a post he held for a number of years. While living at Rostellan in 1688 he decided to support William of Orange in the “Glorious Revolution”; but his attempts to raise troops in Cork against James II failed and he was forced to flee to England in 1689. There William III appointed him Governor of Jamaica, where he organised the colony to repel a French attack and put down a rebellion of some of those who were enslaved on the island. He died of disease in Jamaica in early 1691 and was buried there.

See Elaine Murphy, “O’Brien, William”, Dictionary of Irish Biography.

William O'Brien

William O’Brien, 2nd Earl of Inchiquin. Painted c. 1680. (National Army Museum)

William O’Brien (c. 1666 – 1719), 3rd Earl Inchiquin

Appears to have spent as much time as possible at Rostellan Castle, and was responsible for the early development of the estate, the impact of which is still visible on the landscape.

Surviving correspondence from the 3rd Earl places him frequently at Rostellan Castle throughout his life. He regarded it as his principal country residence in Ireland. Like his father he had declared for William III, and had served in the army for him in both Ireland and Flanders. He became Governor of Kinsale in 1693, served as a Privy Councillor, and was Mayor of Kilkenny in 1704-5. He spent considerable sums trying to improve Rostellan, beginning landscape alterations that have fundamentally altered the landscape we see today. In January 1701 he told Queen Anne that:

at a considerable expense he had prevented the tide from overflowing a parcel of land adjoining to his house at Rostellan, which would be an advantage to the harbour of Cork for small vessels and boats, if a quay was made there, and desiring her Majesty to grant to him and his heirs the said ground, containing about 150 acres; and that his manor at Rostellan might be created into a corporation, with the liberty of a Wednesday market and two fairs, on the 25 March and 15 August; free warren and park, and liberty to inclose 500 acres, paying the yearly rent of 6s 8d. The Queen complied with his request, and granting the same by patent, 20 April, 1708, he built a quay at Farset [Farsid], a place well situated for all the trade advantages of Ireland.

The works he references were the beginnings of the extensive walling and damming that created significant landscape modifications around Rostellan, most notably Rostellan Lake, which up to that point had been tidal. All this cost a lot of money. In 1708 one of his confidants and chief tenants at Rostellan wrote to Sir Donat O’Brien in Dromoland:

my unfortunate l[or]d is still ruining himself-he’ll doe it in spight of all mankinde-he has now a great house and families in Dublin, and, I am sure, the expence here [Rostellan] is not much less…

The same correspondent was similarly concerned about the vast amount of finances being put into Rostellan by the 3rd Earl in 1710:

L[or]d Inchiquin is now att Rostellan…as buesie as ever, building &c; there neaver will be an end. God help him…

The 3rd Earl died at Rostellan on 24th Devember 1719, having laboured “many years under the gout”. He was buried in Cloyne Cathedral.

See Donough O’Brien “History of the O’Briens”; John Ainsworth (ed.) “The Inchiquin Manuscripts”; John Lodge & Mervyn Archdall “The Peerage of Ireland: or A Genealogical History of the Present Nobility of that Kingdom”, Volume 2. 


William O’Brien, 3rd Earl of Inchiquin. Painted in 17th century. The modification works of the 3rd Earl ultimately created features like Rostellan Lake, and began the major process of transformation of the Rostellan estate (The Other Clare)

William O’Brien (1700 – 1777), 4th Earl of Inchiquin

Continued and improved on his father’s work on the Rostellan estate, transforming it into an extravagant demensne landscape, the masonry remnants of which survive today. He also constructed a new house on the site of the old Rostellan Castle. 

The 4th Earl spent much of his time in England, but invested considerable sums in making his Rostellan estate the fitting home for someone of his stature. In Cork, he founded the Water Club of Cork Harbour in 1720, the predecessor of the Royal Cork Yacht Club. He also served as Governor of Clare from 1741 to 1777, and was a Member of the Privy Council of Ireland from 1753. Closely connected to the House of Hanover, he was among the first to be made a Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1725 when it was created by George I, and he was Lord of the Bedchamber to Frederick, Prince of Wales between 1744 and 1751. Having served in the Irish House of Lords in 1721, he held a seat as the Whig Member of Parliament for Windsor (1722-27), Tamworth (1727-34), Camelford (1741-7) and Aylesbury (1747-54). The presence of a speech impediment meant that he avoided speaking in the House where possible. The 4th Earl was also the Grandmaster of the Freemasons of England in 1740-1. He was apparently an eager supporter of the work of antiqurians and early historians, something that may have played a role in the lavish landscape works he undertook at Rostellan, replete with crenallations and follies. He died at Rostellan on 18th July 1777 and was buried in Cloyne Cathedral.

The 4th Earl’s lengthy absences from the Rostellan estate are indicated by documents such as his 6th September 1723 lease to Andrew Nason of Rostellan, which also includes an extremely extensive early description of the area:

Lease by William, Earl of Inchiquin, to Andrew Nason of Rostellan in the barony of Imokelly, Co. Cork, gent., of the following lands and tenements: the demesne lands of Rostellan, bounded on the W. with that part called “the long meadow old towne & Garetone,” S. with Jackson’s farm, E. with the Whitewell Middleton road, and N. with “the slobb or channell”; “the Millbog” lately held by Michael Gould, esq., bounded W. by the said road, S. by the lands of Ballymoleene, E. by that part of the bog now held by John Longfield, esq., “where the new road was designed to be made,” and N. by the said road; another part of Rostellan lately held by Goold, bounded S. with the channel or slob, E. by the said road, N. by the road from Rostellan masshouse to a gate on James Brooke’s land, and W. by a ditch leading from the said gate to the slob (reserving to Inchiquin the house in which William Coursey lives, the mill with the miller’s house and garden, and a house held by Jeremy Cashman); certain meadows and other lands, part of Rostellan, now held by Nason, bounded W. with James Hamilton’s holdings, S. with the Crocane road, E. with John Longfield’s holding, and N. with the Cloyne road (reserving “all the houses and gardens scituat hereon only one house wch. stands in the middle of this land and the house or houses lately built by the said Andrew Nason” and a small meadow at the back of the tenants’ gardens); the marsh or slob called “the Fossett land” taken in from the sea, bounded W. with the dam or bank, S. by the lands of Knockanemoney, E. by a ditch from Rostellan wood to Mrs Jackson’s holding (reserving that part of the marsh between Mrs. Browne’s house and the Lough). To hold Posset’s lands and the other lands to the E. of James Hamilton’s house for 20 years; the remainder for 20 years if Inchiquin or his heirs do not come to live in the mansion house of Rostellan, otherwise for 13 years. Rent £122.10., with 12d. in £ receiver’s fees, and a fat mutton or 5/- at Michaelmas, a couple of fat capons or 2/6 at Christmas, and 7 labourers and 7 horses “wth. proper carriages” or 7/6 yearly; these duties, except the last, to be at Inchiquin’s election. Nason to do suit and service at the manor courts of Rostellan; to give notice of making any ditches; and to pay £5 for breach of any covenant in the lease. Inchiquin to have the option of finishing the avenue begun on the lands, allowing in this case 1o/- to Nason for every plantation acre taken from him; and to keep in repair the dam or bank on the Fossett lands.

Maintaining the dam begun by his father at the “Fossett Lands” [presumably Farsid] is a direct reference to the dam (now road) which created Rostellan Lake.

See John Ainsworth (ed.) “The Inchiquin Manuscripts”; John Lodge & Mervyn Archdall “The Peerage of Ireland: or A Genealogical History of the Present Nobility of that Kingdom”, Volume 2. 

4th Earl

William O’Brien, 4th Earl of Inchiquin. He built on his father’s efforts to improve the estate, and constructed a new house on the site of the old Rostellan Castle. (Attributed to Hogarth, from History of the O’Briens)


The dam which the 3rd Earl had begun as a bank sometime around 1700, and which was significantly improved upon during the time of the 4th Earl in the 1720s. It ultimately created what is today known as Rostellan Lake (Damian Shiels)

Murrough O’Brien (1726 – 1808), 5th Earl of Inchiquin, 1st Marquess of Thomond

Reportedly added further to the Castle. He appears to have resided predominantly in England, visiting his Cork estates periodicially. 

The 4th Earl died without a survivng male heir, and so his title-and Rostellan Castle-passed to his nephew Murrough. The 5th Earl divided his time between Rostellan and his London residence, 39 Grosvenor Place. Born in 1726, he had reportedly held a commission with the Grenadier Guards in Germany and fought at the 1747 Battle of Lauffeld. Having served in the Irish House of Commons in the 1750s and 1760s, he was returned as Member of Parliament for Richmond in 1784. In 1783 he had become one of the first Knights of the Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick. He was created 1st Marquess of Thomond in 1800, and Baron Thomond in 1801. He was apparently close to King George III- the following incident demonstrates the seriousness with which he took royal etiquette:

An unpleasant occurence took place on the 2d of August [1807], as their Majesties were walking on Windsor Terrace. The company was not so select as usual; many persons were turned off, being in a state of intoxication. The Marquis of Thomond, who was walking near their Majesties, seeing a person not uncovered while the King was passing, stepped up to him, and took off his hat; the man struck the Marquis and kicked him. He was immediately secured by the police officers, and kept in custody till their Majesties went off the terrace, when he was examined by Colonel Desbrow. He stated, that he had taken his hat off while his Majesty passed, and did not put it on again till his Majesty had retired ten paces. He was reprimanded and set at liberty.

The Marquis’s brother, Edward O’Brien, who served in the Royal Navy, died at Rostellan Castle in 1801 and had apparently been “brought up there”. He had joined the Naval service in 1747, and reputedly endured wrecking four times: off the coast of India, off the Cape of Good Hope (twice) and with HMS Darmouth in action. The Marquis’s himself passed away on 8th February 1808, a result of a fall from his horse in London.

See Donough O’Brien “History of the O’Briens”; Edward Holt “The Public and Domestic Life of His Late Most Gracious Majesty, George the Third”, Volume 2.


Murrough O’Brien, 1st Marquess of Thomond, wearing the Order of St. Patrick. Painted by Henry Bone (Bonhams)

William O’Brien (1765 – 1846), 6th Earl of Inchiquin, 2nd Marquess of Thomond

Predominanty resident in England, but undertook high-profile visits to his estate at Rostellan throughout his tenure. Atttempted to update elements of the Castle in the gothic style. 

The 1st Marquess having died without a living male heir, the title passed to his nephew, William O’Brien of Ennistymon. He beame a Privy Councillor and Knight of the Order of St. Patrick in 1809, and Baron Tadcaster in 1826. Though the 2nd Marquess spent the majority of his time in England, he continued to visit Rostellan for periods throughout his life, occasionally hosting grand events. On 13th October 1830 The Morning Post reported one such occasion, when the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the 3rd Duke of Northumberland, stayed at Rostellan:

We announced in our last number that his Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant, the Duchess of Northumberland and suite, had arrived on the preceding day at Rostellan, the seat of the Marquis of THomond, where he was waited on by the Mayor and Sheriffs of the City, to congraluate him on his arrival, and to invite him to receive the address of the inhabitants, to which his Excellency graciously assented, and fixed this day for his visit.

On Thursday morning, Admiral Sir Charles Paget’s state barge, manned by the best of seamen, and commanded by Lieutenant Charles Witham, first of Semiramis, procceded to Rostellan Castle, where the Vice-Regal party embarked, amidst a royal salute from the batteries, and the Semiramis, Orestes, and Pike, vessels of war. Shortly after the Vice-Regal barge bore up the bay, amidst the cheers of thousands assembled on the hills and on the beach at Cove…The entire of yesterday was also spent in sailing about the harbour and river…In the evening the party returned to Rostellan Castle.

During much of this time the Rostellan estate was left in the stewardship of Alexander McNab, a Scotsman who farmed several hundred acres of the demesne. He held  traditional Scottish Harvest Home celebrations for his workers during the 1840s. The Marquess’s agent lived in Maryland House- in 1848 that was Joseph Haynes. Despite the hardships the country was experincing during the Great Famine, reports of visits by the Marquess to his Rostellan holdings attempted to paint a portrait of an overjoyed tenantry, only too eager to come out and perform for their landlord. The Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail of 2nd September 1848 reported one such scene at Rostellan:

The workmen on his lordship’s estate erected triumphal arches in the demsne, under which the marquis and marchioness were to pass. The gateway was ornamented with laurels and flowers, and over this “the Union Jack” proudly waved. Under the flag-staff was the motto, Cead mille failthe. At the hour appointed, several hundred of his lordship’s tenantry arrived and formed in procession along the demesne two deep. They were a remarkably respectable body of men, many of them highly intelligent and wealthy farmers, of whom any nobleman might be proud. At half-past twelve o’clock, the marquis entered his demesne, accompanied by the marchioness, Mrs. Haynes, and Mr. Haynes. On the arrival of his lordship and lady, the procession opened, and his lordship passed through, the tenantry saluting. Reaching the castle gate, the horses were taken from the pheaton, and her ladyship, accompanied by Mr. Haynes, Mrs. Haynes, and Miss Gillespie, took their plances on the handsome balcony over the entrance to the castle. The Rev. J.P. Pyne, Rector of Inch, came forward, and presented a grateful and loyal address of congratulation, to which his lordship returned an appropriate reply and promised to give 100l. to the poor of Aghada and its neighbourhood. The business of the day having been brought to a close, her ladyship called for Mr. McNab, the steward, and directed him to procure music that she might see some Irish jigs and reels. Instantly the piper was procured, and he lilted up the “Wind that shakes the Barley” to which two young women and a young man gaily danced away. No person could have enjoyed the merry scene with more pleasure than her ladyship. After several dances, the marquis called for a “horn pipe,” when a strapping, handsome lad, about six feet high. perdormed the dance with singular eclat. The marquis and marchioness, having again expressed their thanks for the compliment paid to them, drove from the demesne and through the village.


William O’Brien, 2nd Marquess of Thomond, painted between 1809 and 1826. By Samuel Freeman. (National Portrait Gallery)

See Donough O’Brien “History of the O’Briens”.

James O’Brien (1769 – 1855), 7th Earl of Inchiquin, 3rd Marquess of Thomond

The last of the O’Briens of Rostellan Castle. 

James was William’s brother, and succeeded to the title-and to Rostellan-when William died in 1846. He had spent his career in the Royal Navy, entering as a Captain’s Servant aboard HMS Hebe in 1783. He served as a Midshipman aboard the frigates HMS Pegasus and HMS Andromeda off North America and in the West Indies between 1786 and 1789, under the command of Prince William Henry, later King William IV. He was promoted to Lieutenant and next saw service on HMS Valiant in the Channel fleet. There followed stints on HMS London, HMS Artois, HMS Active, and HMS Brunswick; on the latter he fought in the 1795 naval engagement known as “Cornwallis’s Retreat” off Brittany. From the HMS Indefatigable he was given command of the sloop Childers, and in 1799 the Thisbe. From 1800 to 1804 he commanded HMS Emerald in the West Indies, and in 1803 captured the French schooner L’Enfant Prodigue. He next briefly led HMS Diadem, then between 1813 and 1815 HMS Warspite. He was made a Rear-Admiral in 1825, a Vice-Admiral in 1837, full Admiral in 1847, and Admiral of the Fleet in 1853. He had become Lord of the Bedchamber in 1830 when his old Captain, William IV, ascended to the throne.

When the 3rd Marquess had come into possession of Rostellan in 1846 he decided that he would not make it his home, and immediately delcared his intention to sell the estate and stay in England. However this sale didn’t go ahead; Irish newspapers in 1848 reported on the celebrations when he and the Marchioness visited his Irish estate. However, the long O’Brien assocation with Rostellan Castle did come to a close on with his death in 1855. With no heir, both the Marquessate of Thomond and Earldom of Inchiquin became extinct, and the Barony of Inchiquin devolved to the O’Brien Baronets of Dromoland, Co. Clare.

See William Richard O’Byrne “A Naval Biographical Dictionary”; Donough O’Brien “History of the O’Briens”


James O’Brien, 3rd and last Marquess of Thomond. His death in 1855 brought the O’Brien connection to Rostellan to an end. (History of the O’Briens)

Future posts will tell the story of Rostellan’s final owners from 1855 onwards, and explore some of the fascinating stories of the high-born women of Rostellan. In addition, there will be a detailed examination of the remaining fragments of this once impressive demensne landscape.

Categories: Rostellan | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

In Search of Rostellan Castle, Part 1: Sieges, Parties & Regicides in the 16th and 17th Centuries

As a resident of Farsid, I am fortunate during our current lockdown to have Rostellan Woods within my 2km exercise area. I have written about aspects of Rostellan on the site before (see e.g. Cork’s Workhouse Children Visit Rostellan 1866-7), but I thought I would take the opportunity the crisis presents to do a series of posts that explore the history and surviving archaeological landscape of Rostellan Castle, Demesne, and Gardens. Though most of us are familiar with the woods and the Aghada GAA pitches, the fascinating history behind this location is less widely known. I hope through these posts to share some of the available information about this location’s past, and also to raise awareness of the need to take action to preserve some of surviving fragments of this landscape, which are currently degrading at an alarming rate. This first post looks at the early castle of Rostellan, and its story in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Down Survey and Castles

The parish of Rostellan (left) and the two depictions of the 17th century castle of Rostellan from the 1650s Down Survey (Trinity College Dublin Down Survey Project/National Library of Ireland)

The Fitzgeralds of Rostellan Castle

While it is probable that a medieval fortification was sited at Rostellan, it is in the 16th century that Rostellan Castle begins to make regular appearances in the historical record. In 1565 the land here passed into the hands of the FitzGeralds, an event recorded in the Patent Rolls of the High Court of Chancery:

…whereby Gerald Fitz-James McSleyney, captain of his nation in the cantred of Imokilly, and proprietor and true lord of Rostelan and Culbaine, for a certain sum of money, sold and conveyed to John Fitz-Edmond James de Geraldinis, gentleman, Cork County, his manor of Rostelan, containing 1 carucate or plowland, and a particle of land of Culbaine, with its wood…

According to R.G. Fitzgerald-Uniacke, John Fitzedmond was around 37-years-old when he acquired Rostellan in 1565. He was married to a daughter of the O’Brien Earl of Thomond, a family who would become intrinsically linked with Rostellan over the next 300 years. Rostellan was just one of John’s possessions, which he seems to have increased as he successfully navigated the Desmond Rebellions which devastated Munster. Apparently a loyal-Crown man, he was rewarded for his support of Elizabeth I with a knighthood at Cloyne in 1601. By then he had passed Rostellan Castle over to his third-son, Thomas FitzJohn Gerald, who seems to have been resident there. Thomas had become the formal owner in 1594, when he obtained “The manor and castle of Rostiellane, and all the lands, tenement, and hereditaments of Ballynamony, Cruoghane, Kayall, Cwylbane, Moynivorrin, Ballynyclassy, Ballygoyre, Ballyncattanaige, and Ballynvollin, in the territory of Rostiellane [and] Ballyknoick and Collraghe in the territory of Doungvornay” from his father.

Final Image

The Rostellan Peninsula in the 1650s (left) and today (right). The Down Survey mapping demonstrates that the early castle was certainly on the same site as the later 18th-century house. Most of the landscape changes owe their origins to undertakings in the 1700s, as will be explored in a subsequent post (Trinity College Dublin Down Survey Project/National Library of Ireland/Google Maps)

Whatever about his father’s relationship with the Crown, Thomas (perhaps as part of a family strategy) was one of those who hedged his bets during the Nine Years War (1594-1603). When Munster was ablaze in the late 1590s he seems to have taken Rostellan into rebellion, as “Thomas fitz John Fitz Edmond of Rostellan” is among a list of men who were pardoned by the Crown in 1600. Seemingly none the worse for his flirtation with Hugh O’Neill, by 1606 Thomas had been granted a licence to hold a Saturday market at Rostellan by the new monarch, James I. Thomas passed away in 1628, leaving Rostellan Castle in the hands of his son, James Fitz Gerald. When he died in turn seven years later, he left behind no children. The lack of a surviving male heir meant that the interests of most of his lands fell to Fitz Gerald relatives, who controlled the bulk of the locality. However, his widow, Mary Burke Fitz Gerald, was permitted to maintain her living at the 252 acre Rostellan Estate. According to Fitzgerald-Uniacke, Mary later wed another of the Fitz Geralds, Richard, who was son and heir of Edmond Fitz Gerald of Ballymartyr (now Castlemartyr). This was the state of play when war came knocking at Rostellan in the 1640s.


Rostellan Castle Besieged

The most dramatic incident in Rostellan Castle’s history came in the midst of the Eleven Years War (1641-1653). Richard Fitz Gerald apparently served as a Royalist officer during the conflict, and the castle of Rostellan followed his allegiances. It was 1645 when the war landed on Rostellan’s doorstep. The man who set his sights on it was Murrogh O’Brien, Lord Inchiquin. In this complex war that was characterised by shifting allegiances and an often dizzying array of competing military forces, Inchiquin, formerly a Royalist, was now in the service of Parliament. He would become known to history as Murchadh na dTóiteán [Murrogh of the Conflagrations/Murrogh the Burner]. As a mark of the castle’s strategic importance on the eastern side of Cork Harbour, that summer Inchiquin’s forces invested the castle and prepared artillery positions in order to bombard it into submission. Rostellan promptly surrendered, and the campaign moved on. Lord Inchiquin would soon be developing a long-term association with Rostellan, but in 1645, his men’s stay would prove brief.

Rostellan Today

The location where Rostellan Castle stood in the 16th and 17th centuries. Top Left: The cropmarks of the site, largely related to the 18th century house, remain clearly visible. Bottom Left: The view from the entrance to Aghada GAA, looking directly at where the castle once stood. Right: The location of the 16th and 17th century Rostellan Castle and later house, marked with a red circle (Damian Shiels/ Google Maps)

The main opposition to Inchiquin in East Cork in 1645 were the Confederate forces under James Tuchet, 3rd Earl of Castlehaven. While encamped at Castlemartyr–which had recently been taken and burned by Inchiquin–Castlehaven hatched a plot to take Rostellan back, an operation he described some years later:

I got intelligence that Colonel Henry O’Brien (brother to the lord Inchiquin), and Lieutenant-Colonel Courtney, with several other officers, were come by boat to Rostellan, to make merry; that the tide falling, their boats were aground, and so would continue till high-water. On the certainty of this I lost no time, but sent immediately a party to seize the boats, lying more than a musket shot from the castle, following as fast as I could with the army; which being come up, I presently fell to the work planted my guns on the batteries made by my lord Inchiquin, not yet destroyed, and in the morning the place yielded on discretion.

James Tuchet 3rd Earl Castlehaven

James Tuchet, 3rd Earl of Castlehaven, who retook Rostellan Castle in 1645 (National Portrait Gallery London)

A Regicide at Rostellan?

Despite this reverse, it wouldn’t be long before Inchiquin and his family were back at Rostellan. Antiquarians state that the property was officially granted to Inchiquin in 1648, a property title that would endure into the 1850s. However, in the short-term, the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland and the victory of Parliament forced Inchiquin–who was once more in Royal service–to flee to France. Afterwards the lands at Rostellan were recorded as part of the 1650s Down Survey, the major surveying and mapping project initiated to aid the transfer of land from Irish Catholics into the hands of those who had supported Parliament. It lists that the lands of Rostellan were still held by “Richard Fitzgarrald in right of his wife”. The Survey includes a fantastic early description of Rostellan:

The soyle is Arable and good pasture and Conteineth these ensueing Denominations, viz. Rostellane, Balltnemonie, Cnockane, Ballinauwillen, Ballineclassey, Ballydeere, Lisard-Irensy, Gilkaghmore and Carrigcottie. The improvements are a Castlehouse in Rostellane standing by the sea side, a Castlehouse on Carrigcottie; a mill on Ballynauwillen, as alsoe in many places farme houses and Cabbins

What became of Rostellan Castle during the 1650s? With Inchiquin and Fitz Gerald out of the picture, it was at this juncture that another individual enters the story of Rostellan–Irishman Robert Phayre. Lieutenant-Colonel Phayre (sometimes Phaire) had previously served under Inchiquin, but subsequently commanded a regiment under Cromwell during the conquest. He had a particularly notable claim to fame, for Robert Phayre was classified as a regicide. The Irish officer had found himself in England in 1649 when the warrant ordering the execution of Charles I was issued, and his position meant that he was one of the officers to whom it was officially addressed. Given a role in Munster under the Commonwealth, according to Sidney Lee’s 1909 Dictionary of National Biography he “retired to Rostellan Castle” in the mid-1650s. W.H. Welply recorded that Phayre leased the four ploughlands of Rostellan in 1653-4, and that he was given permission to cut 100 trees for the building of a dwellinghouse and out-offices there. He later moved to Grange near Ovens, and was arrested in Cork following the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy. Luckily for him, his 1649 refusal to sign the execution warrant meant his life was spared. He died in Grange in 1682.


The Death Warrant of Charles I. Robert Phayre, an Irish Parliamentarian Officer who appears to have lived in Rostellan Castle in the mid-1650s, was one of the men to whom it was addressed (Parliamentary Archives)

The Restoration brought with it the return of Inchiquin, who was now an Earl. A future post will look at the story of his family’s development of Rostellan Castle, a period when much of the landscape that still exists came into being. But there is a postscript to the story of 16th and 17th century Rostellan worth noting here. Though the 18th century would see this once defensive landscape transformed into a famous house and gardens, vestiges of its strategic past survived. In his 1861 History of the County and City of Cork, the Reverend C.B. Gibson recorded that within the part of the gardens known as the battery (which we will discuss in a later post) there were four brass artillery pieces. One was inscribed “ASSUERUS KOSTER ME FECIT AMSTELREDAM, AO. 1646” [Assuerus Koster Made Me, Amsterdam, 1646]. The other three were dated to 1786, and were likely placed there during the Napoleonic threat. As an aside, by then 19th century Rostellan Castle had also become the home of another interesting military artefact, a rare Scottish claymore sword of 16th century date that was later described by the National Museum of Ireland. Whether it had any ties to the Castle, or was simply a later purchase by the O’Briens, remains unknown, though it does at some point appear to have been associated by its owners with Brian Boru.

Wright, John Michael, 1617-1694; Murrough O'Brien, 1st Earl of Inchiquin

Murrogh O’Brien, Lord Inchiquin who took Rostellan Castle in 1645, and who later became its owner (Manchester Art Gallery)


Trinity College Dublin Down Survey Project.

J.C.Q. 1936. “Rostellan Castle and Its Owners”, Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society Volume 41, Number 154, 109-111.

R.G. Fitzgerald-Uniacke. 1895. “The Fitzgeralds of Rostellane, in the County of Cork”, The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Volume 5, No. 2, 163-170.

Reverend C.B. Gibson. 1861. History of the County and City of Cork. Volume 2.

Andrew Halpin. 1986. “Irish Medieval Swords c.1170-1600. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy Section C, Volume 86C, 183-230.

Sidney Lee. 1909. Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 17.

James Touchet, Earl of Castlehaven. 1815. The Earl of Castlehaven’s Memoirs. 

W.H. Welply. 1925. “Colonel Robert Phaire ‘Regicide’. His Ancestry, History and Descendants (Contd.)” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society Volume 30, Number 151, 20-26.





Categories: Rostellan | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Experiences & Photographs of a US Navy Chief in USNAS Aghada, 1918-1919

During the last few years the site has shared a lot of material relating to the presence of American troops in East Cork during the First World War. You can check out all those posts on our U.S. Military in Ireland Centenary Project page.The major centre of the American presence on the eastern side of the harbour was the United States Naval Air Station at Aghada. Last year we were greatly fortunate to welcome Thom Dickerson to the area, whose father Thomas Dayton Dickerson served at the base during the war. Aside from bringing great knowledge of the base and his father’s experiences, Thom is also the curator of a wonderful collection of photographs that his father captured while stationed here in Cork. He shared that story with us during a public lecture in Midleton Library, and now has kindly agreed to expand on that for us in a guest post on a site. What follows is the story of US Navy Chief Thomas Dayton Dickerson, as told by his son Thom.

WWI ID Thos D Dickersonlowres

The First World War Identity Card of Thomas D Dickerson (Copyright Dickerson Collection)

Back in a time of peace, good times, and growing up in Summerland, California, my father, Thomas Dayton Dickerson joined the US Naval Reserves in Santa Barbara, California. It was the year 1915 and WW1 was already one year into the breach of a madness of what was to be the first taste of carnage and battle that our world would experience. His peace time job was being a chauffeur/ mechanic. His experience with automobile engines and aviation power plants began as a ride along mechanic racing on speedways in San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Those race car drivers he participated with were Eddie Rickenbacker, Barney Oldfield, and one racer he personally worked with as a ride along mechanic was Glover Ruckstell. His first involvement with aviation was getting Lincoln Beachy’s aircraft ready to cross the Goleta valley in 1914. My father also worked with Alan Loughead (later changed to Lockheed) who had built a seaplane plant in Santa Barbara 1912. During the 1915 Pan Pacific International Exhibit in San Francisco, my father Tom also worked on Loughead’s F1 Flying boat. Mr Loughead gave patrons rides across the San Francisco Bay for $10.00 during the exhibit. (1)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos from the Dickerson Collection– A depth charge in the Channel; A ship underway; a submarine in the Irish Sea; A ship at her mooring (Slideshow)

Skipping to April 20, 1917, my father shipped out on the USS St Louis as a QM2 for convoy duty to Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland. He made three convoy trips from April 1917 to November 1917 and was awarded two convoy chevrons for making the crossings in harm’s way of German subs patrolling the coastal waterways. He was then transferred to the USS Melville and was assigned to the signal bridge. His assignment to the USS Melville went from December 31, 1917 to April 16, 1918. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Images of officers, sailors and locals around the Aghada Base from the Dickerson Collection (Slideshow)

A new assignment started on June 30, 1918 at USNAS Queenstown, Ireland. During his time on assignment my father served between USNAS Queenstown and USNAS Aghada. He was assigned to transportation where he was part of the support staff building the bases and later for aircraft support. His travels took him between Queenstown, Dublin, Cork, Castletownbere (kite balloon station), Killarney, Wexford, Bantry, and Aghada. He assisted in assembly of the aircraft, Curtiss H16s, ferrying the aircraft as an aircrew mechanic with the pilot to the bases around Ireland. While serving in many duties during his service in Ireland, he was the official photographer who recorded people, places, and events during his tour. Many of the photographs and documents you will see in this article are from his albums he had collected during his time in the US Navy from 1917 -1946. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Images of the Aghada Base buildings and surrounds taken by Thomas during his service, from the Dickerson Collection (Slideshow)

On July 1 1918, Thomas D Dickerson’s rate was changed to Machinist Mate 2nd Class from Quarter Master 2nd Class. The Quarter Master rate was not his actual area of expertise or training in civilian life. It was his US Navy Reserve training where he became Quarter Master, but that rating was not suited to the skills he was required to utilise during the war. He continued his work in Queenstown and Aghada as transportation chief and plane captain on the H16s as the base was built and operations began on September 30, 1918. His role in the immediate conflict was to build the seaplanes from incoming aircraft parts received from the shipping docks landing in Queenstown. In addition to his duties he drove various vehicles to pick up messengers and officers for Admiralty HQ. Those operations would continue until November 11, 1918, when all hostilities ended the immediate conflict of the war. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Images of American seaplanes at the Aghada base from the Dickerson Collection (Slideshow)

The number of aircraft in operation in Aghada at the end of the war were 28 seaplanes. The number of flights totalled 64 sorties with 11,568 nautical miles covered during patrols over the Irish Sea and surrounding waterways. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Images of Officers, sailors and locals in and around the Aghada Base and in Ireland, from the Dickerson Collection (Slideshow)

After the war was over, Tom was advanced to MM1 on January 1, 1919 and on March 3, 1919 he was assigned to the Naval Supply base in Dublin, Ireland in charge of transportation. From March 31, 1919 to July 25, 1919, his last duty station in Ireland was Dublin, Naval Air Detachment. Not to top his extraordinary assignments in Ireland he was then advanced to CMM on June 1, 1919 to Naval Air Force, London, UK

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos Tom took during his various trips around Britain and Ireland from the Dickerson Collection (Slideshow)

Tom Dickerson CMM US Navy, was next placed in charge of transportation for the Allied Peace Mission going between the US Embassy in London and the US Embassy in Paris France.

The duties which followed were:

Naval Forces Europe, London from September, 30, 1919 – January 22, 1920 and confirmed Rating CMM on Oct 1,1919; 

Naval Commission, Paris France from March 31, 1920 – June 25, 1920;

Paris Staff Office, Paris France from June 30, 1920 – August 4, 1920. Then on to the UK, assigned to the “Howden Detachment” in Bedford, England. Tom Dickerson and his US crew mates trained on rigid airships that were being built and sold to the US for convoy fleet support. He missed the tragic flight of the R38 (ZR2). His last assignment in the UK was the London Staff Office from September 30, 1921 – Oct 6, 1921. He then returned to America to assist building the ZR1 which was christened the USS Shenandoah and he flew on the entire maiden voyage across the United States and back, a story told in the National Geographic Jan 1925.


All images in this blog post remain the Copyright of the Thomas Dickerson, and cannot be reproduced without permission.

Thomas Dayton Dickerson ACMM National Archive Records and traveling personnel records.

Thom Dickerson Personal collection; Photographs and negative scans.

1915 Pan Pacific International Exhibit Fair

Categories: World War One | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Revealed: The Life Experiences of One of Cork’s First World War American War Brides

Readers may recall past work on the site that compiled a database of local Irish women–the vast majority from Cork–who married First World War U.S. servicemen and began new lives across the Atlantic (you can see the database here). Working with the National Archives in Washington D.C., the Port of Cork and the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, I subsequently curated an exhibition featuring a number of these women’s passport images for the 100th anniversary of the U.S. arrival in 2017. That exhibition has since been on display in Cork City Library, and from late July will be in Midleton Library (where I will be giving a free public talk on the topic on Saturday 21st July at 12.15pm). Due to the nature of the sources, we could uncover only fragments of the lives of these women after they went to live in America. I have been fortunate since first making the research available to be contacted by a number of their descendants, who have greatly increased our knowledge of the later lives of the Irish “War Brides.” Among them were Eve and Bob Pranis, the grandchildren of one of the women– Alice Maud Pain from Cork City. I was delighted to recently meet Eve and Bob when they visited from America, and show them around some of the sites associated with their grandparents. Eve kindly agreed to share some recollections of her Cork grandmother and her experiences with us, and these are reproduced below.


Eve and Bob Pranis at the door in Cobh–formerly the entrance to the Queenstown American Consulate– which their grandmother passed through when she applied for her passport to begin a new life in the United States (Damian Shiels)

To provide some background, Alice married U.S. Navy man Joseph Pranis in Cork in 1917, where Eve and Bob’s father, Jospeh Junior, was born to the couple on 17th October 1918. In 1919 Alice applied for a passport to go an live with her new husband in America, including as her passport photograph and image of her, her baby son and the family dog at their house at 5 Langford Terrace in the City (one of the images featured in the exhibition). But what happened next? Eve takes up the story.

Rediscovery # 29656

The passport photo that Alice Maud Pranis submitted with her passport application. Taken in her parent’s back garden in Cork City, with her new son Joseph (Eve and Bob’s dad) and the family dog (National Archives)

Grandma Alice Pranis Recollections 1896-1999

My grandmother Alice’s parents were James Arthur Pain who lived to age 76 and Susan Clarke who lived to 83. Alice told us that her father, James Arthur Pain, who was born in Cork, was a protestant who preferred that she didn’t play with the Catholic children. Her mother, Susan Clarke, was a bit more broad-minded. Alice married my grandfather, Lithuanian-American, Joseph Pranis, in Cobh in 1917 when he was stationed with the U.S. Navy. Joseph stayed in the Navy after Alice went to America, and each of Alice’s children were born in a different country or city depending on where her husband was stationed.

Grandma pranis4 large-colorized-family_print

A family photo of Alice and her siblings (partially colourised) taken in Cork during the early twentieth century, and which remains in the family (Pranis Family)

Alice’s eldest son, my father, was born Joseph Arthur Porter Pranis in Cork in 1918. (He passed away in 1995.) Note, the second middle name Porter was selected by Alice’s husband, Joseph, because he was stationed on the USS Porter, a US destroyer that was based in Cork. When the family was later stationed in the Phillipine Islands, my father was introduced to the library by a serviceman, and he learned to love reading. His dad wanted to “make him a man,” but he didn’t want to consider the service. Hence, he dropped the name Porter. He remained a Pacifist, making an exception for WWII.


Alice and Joseph’s Cork-born son Joe Junior (Eve & Bob’s dad) when he was three-years old (Pranis Family)

Alice talked – not wistfully – about being put on a “coal boat” along with baby Joseph after arriving in New York in 1919. That took them to Cleveland to stay with Alice’s husband’s “big, boisterous, non-English speaking family.” Alice was evidently not treated very warmly by her in laws. She recalled, however, that on her arrival in Cleveland, she met a Black woman named Effie who took grandma under her wing and helped orient her. They remained friends and grandma eventually named her daughter Elizabeth Effie Pranis.

An image of Alice taken in Cork during the earlier twentieth century (Pranis Family)

An image of Alice taken in Cork during the earlier twentieth century (Pranis Family)

Alice traveled, moved to and lived in a great many places, sometimes on short notice. Being married to a navy man meant frequent moves. After her stay in Cleveland, the family moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where her daughter Elizabeth was born in 1921. By 1926, they were in the Philippine Islands where her son Robert was born. By 1928, she boarded a ship in China with her children in tow and landed in San Diego, California. At age 42, Alice had her fourth child Mildred, who was born with fairly serious cerebral palsy. (Before settling for good in San Diego, the family had one more stint in Norfolk, Virginia.) 


Alice Pranis (centre) with her family in the United States (Pranis Family)

By the time Mildred was coming of age, Alice’s other children were out of the house. She was determined to keep Milly, who was very bright, but spastic and wheelchair bound, as active and engaged in life as she could. This included going to the enormous San Diego zoo, museums, summer camps, and theaters; traveling with her annually to Spain (where the climate agreed with Milly); and getting her a typewriter so she could correspond with “pen pals” around the world. Alice was a very tiny but strong woman who did most of the physically demanding work to keep Milly active. She lifted her out of her wheelchair and into tubs for decades. As they traveled, the two collected dolls from around the world. Alice and her husband chose to stay in San Diego because the school system had good programs for children with special needs.

Alice in 1986 (Pranis Family)

Alice in 1986 (Pranis Family)

We didn’t see as much of our grandmother Alice as we would have liked. We lived in New York State and our grandparents remained in San Diego, which is 3,000 miles away in Southern California. Travel was expensive then for our working-class family. But my brothers and I, along with cousins, have some vivid memories of our visits back and forth.

Alice had a delightful personality and a fairly bright outlook on life. She was never one to hold grudges and had a “live and let live” attitude. All this despite having to pack up home and children and move countless times — and having a husband who was a bit of an authoritarian (and drinker) who spent much time with his retired Navy buddies. Her memory was also fantastic. Twenty-five years after taking her the 12 miles from her house to Tijuana, Mexico for lunch, I asked if she recalled our outing. “Oh, wasn’t that a delicious fish dinner,” Alice accurately recalled at age 99.

Alice in later life (Pranis Family)

Alice in later life (Pranis Family)

Alice was a strong and active walker. She and I spent hours walking around the San Diego zoo. She walked to church every day until she was in her mid-80s – and had knee surgery in her 90s.

Although Alice was an American citizen in many ways, she retained her sweet Cork lilt until she passed away at nearly 104. (She explained that her longevity was due to never eating salty snacks. That said, she loved eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on her birthdays and other special events.) She made a mean Irish stew, celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, and kept loads of photos of her life in Cork. Sadly, most of the latter were destroyed by her husband when he had dementia, which she took in stride. After her husband passed away (26 years before she did), she returned to Ireland several times with her daughter Elizabeth. Word has it that Alice met an Irish gentleman in a bar with whom she had a long correspondence.

Sadly, Alice outlived three of her four children.

Alice in the 1990s (Pranis Family)

Alice in the 1990s (Pranis Family)

I would like to thank Eve and Bob for sharing these recollections of their Grandmother with us. Hers was a life forever altered by the arrival of the Americans in Cork Harbour in 1917, and it is magnificent to have a flavour of where that life took her in the many decades that followed her departure. If you are a descendant of any of the War Brides identified in the database (or indeed of any First World War American War Bride from Ireland) and would like to share their story with us, please email me at 

Categories: World War One | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Midleton WW1 Memorial Unveiling: Videos

On Sunday last a Memorial Wall commemorating 200 men from East Cork who lost their lives during the First World War was unveiled at the Baby’s Walk in the town. Among those in attendance was Tánaiste Simon Coveney T.D., who delivered the main speech during the ceremony. Made of Portland stone, the memorial is extremely impressive, and a credit to the committee who conceived of the project and saw it through to completion. Below are three videos from the event, the first two contributions by two of the descendants of men remembered on the memorial, the final one the speech delivered by the Tánaiste.

Categories: World War One | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Midleton’s 19th Century American Soldiers & Sailors

On the site we have previously explored some of Midleton’s connections with the United States, and American military service. Probably our most influential discovery was the forgotten story of John Joseph Coppinger, as our research into him led to the naming and theming of Coppingers pub on Midleton’s Main Street. Though Coppinger is certainly Midleton’s most famous “forgotten” American serviceman, he is far from alone. This post takes a brief look at just three of many others from the area who entered American military service in the 19th century– one during the American Civil War, another immediately after that conflict, and one who served in both the American West and during the Spanish-American War. 


The grave of John Joseph Coppinger in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, photographed during a visit to the site in 2014 (Damian Shiels)

John Quinn, 16th New York Cavalry, American Civil War

The American Civil War saw more Cork men fight and die in uniform than any other conflict in the county’s history, including the First World War. It is probable that the same is also true for Midleton men, and those from the immediate area. One of a number we have uncovered was John Quinn. John was born in East Cork around 1826. On 25th May 1845 he married 18-year-old Margaret Hennessy in Dromada, Castlemartyr, part of the parish of Midleton.

John Quinn

Marriage certification for John Quinn and Margaret Hennessy of Castlemartyr in 1845. Margaret supplied this evidence in her claim for an American pension after John’s death (NARA)

The couple went on to have at least two children, Margaret and Michael, both born in the early 1850s. They emigrated to New York and by the eve of the American Civil War were living in city of Troy, probably with other emigrants from East Cork. John enlisted in the 16th New York Cavalry on 10th August 1863 but illness soon caused him to be transferred to the Invalid Corps. He died in Alexandria, Virginia of chronic pneumonia on 11th February 1864. After John’s death, Margaret successfully applied for an American Military Pension based on her husband’s service. John’s resting place can today be found in Alexandria National Cemetery.

John Quinn Alexandria National Cemetery (Stan Jett)

The grave of John Quinn in Alexandria National Cemetery, Virginia (Stan Jett via Find A Grave)

John J. Bransfield, USS Brooklyn, USS Ohio, USS Jaunita, Post Civil War

Born in Midleton, John was a 22-year-old sailmaker when he enlisted in the United States Navy in September 1870. His main service was aboard the famed sloop-of-war USS Brooklyn, and he spent his time deployed with her on her extended visit to Europe and the Mediterranean. John took ill while on the voyage, and while in Toulon, France was deemed unfit for service due to palpitations of the heart. He was discharged on 24th August 1872.

USS Brooklyn, on which Midleton's John Bransfield served (United States Navy)

USS Brooklyn, on which Midleton’s John Bransfield served (United States Navy)

John received a pension for rheumatism and heart disease caused by his service. After leaving the navy he first lived at 140 Prince Street in Boston, and as was common, spent much of his time with other Midleton emigrants. Richard Morgan of Midleton remembered meeting him there when they worked together at the same employment. Eventually John returned to make his home on Midleton’s Main Street, where he spent the remainder of his life. He married Hannah Walsh on 7th November 1879; their son Maurice was born in 1880, and was followed by John in 1882, Dora in 1884 and Mary in 1885. John died in Cork’s North Infirmary on 12th November 1902 during an operation that was attempting to remove his kidney, and was buried in Midleton’s Holy Rosary Cemetery.

Bransfield Baptism

John Bransfield’s Certificate of Baptism from 1851. Supplied as part of his American pension application (NARA)

John Stanton

1903 Memorandum of Midleton’s John Stanton, Clerk of the Union, relating to the pension application of John Bransfield’s widow Hannah (NARA)

John Leahy, United States Marine Corps, Spanish-American War

John Leahy was born in Aghada around 1864, but his family ultimately made their home at No. 10 William Street (New Cork Road), Midleton. They would later move to No. 15. John had long service in the U.S. military. He was a 20-year-old labourer when he entered the 4th United States Cavalry in New York on 25th November 1887, serving in the American West with Company D. Discharged in 1891, he returned to the military in 1898 at Mare Island, California, when he re-enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. All the while John was sending money home to support his ageing parents in Midleton. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, John took part in some of the major actions of the conflict. He was a participant in the landing at Guantánamo, Cuba on 10th June 1898, the bombardment of Santiago de Cuba on 21st June and 2nd July 1898 and the destruction of Admiral Cervera’s fleet on 3rd July 1898.

US Marines entrenching in Cuba, 1898

U.S. Marines entrenching in Guantánamo, Cuba in 1898, an operation Midleton’s John Leahy participated in (U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command)

John survived these engagements only to fall ill and die on 7th October 1900. He was interred at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C. His parents William and Ellen, who had partially relied on John’s financial  support, were entitled to seek a U.S. Government pension in Ellen’s name, as William was no longer able to work. She duly applied for it.

John Leahy

The grave of Midleton’s John Leahy at Congressional Cemetery, Washington D.C. (Historic Congressional Cemetery Archivist via Find A Grave)

When seeking her pension, Ellen wrote from Midleton to the American Bureau of Pensions explaining her circumstances:

…my only outlook now is to look forward to the graciousness of the U.S. Government, as I was almost entirely dependent on my deceased son’s remittances to me, and my husband being unable to work owing to his advanced age, I now sadly miss my son’s remittances, owing to his untimely death in service to his adopted Country.

Leahy letter

Letter written by Ellen Leahy from Midleton to America in support of her pension application based on her son’s U.S. Marine Corps service (NARA)

John wasn’t the only one of the Midleton Leahys in America. In fact his mother Ellen took the time in 1902 to explain to the American Government just where all her children were, and why they couldn’t support her:

(1) Michael Leahy (son) aged 40 years who is a Hospital Steward in [the] United States Army and is at present stationed at Angel Island, California…He is married and doing for himself and family and consequently is no help to me.

(2) Ellen Leahy (daughter) aged 37 years who is presumably in some part of the United States, but as she never writes home I have no account of her.

(3) Margaret Barry (daughter)…is wife of John Barry of Midleton County Cork Ireland. Her age in 1901 was 34 years.

(4) Mary White (daughter)…aged 31 years; wife of John White of Midleton County Cork Ireland.

(5) William Leahy (son); 28 years; is living with me at home.

(6) Kate Leahy (daughter); 26 years; is at present in some part of the United States.

(7) Patrick Leahy (son), 23 years, is living with me at home. [he suffered from fits]

(8) Annie Leahy (daughter), 20 years, is living with me at home.

My husband, William Leahy, aged 74 years is also alive an has never rendered any military or naval service. [he had worked as a labourer until he was 70, but was now too old to work for her support]

The impact of emigration in splitting families apart is readily apparent in Ellen’s account of her children. She and her husband provided lots of additional detail about their lives in their pension application, including the fact that they were renting their home on a weekly basis from Lord Midleton for a sum of one shilling and six pence. Other Midleton residents rallied around the couple to try and help them get a pension; among those who gave statements were Timothy O’Leary of 9 Railway Terrace, and Denis O’Keeffe of No. 19 William Street (New Cork Road). When Ellen herself fell ill, her daughter (and U.S. Marine John’s sister) Hannah Aherne, then living at No. 15 Cork Road, supplied receipts for her medical care to the U.S. Government, which are still preserved in Washington D.C. today. Among them is a bill from Doctor M.P. Desmond, which you can view below.

Doctor Desmond Receipt

Receipt from Dr. Desmond for care of Ellen Leahy on the Cork Road (NARA)

After Ellen’s death on 10th March 1919, Hannah also passed a copy of the funeral expenses on to America, preserving the details of the costs issued by Dr. Patrick D. Moore of 3 Broderick Street for the provision of, among other items, a coffin, bier and horses. Hannah was entitled to be repaid the costs for both her mother’s illness and funeral because Ellen had been a pensioner of the United States– even though she had never visited the country.

Patrick D. Moore

Funeral expenses issued by Patrick D. Moore of 3 Broderick Street, Midleton, preserved in the National Archives, Washington D.C. (NARA)

Hannah Letter 1920

Hannah Aherne’s 1920 letter to the American Bureau of Pensions seeking a contribution towards her mother’s funeral expenses to which she was entitled as her mother was a U.S. Pensioner (NARA)

The stories of these three men and their families are some of the thousands from East Cork that were created as a result of the mass emigration from the locality in the 19th and 20th centuries. That emigration led many to the service of the United States military, and unfortunately for some, it led to their deaths. We hope in the future to share more similar stories of Midleton and East Cork emigrants on the site.

This post would not have been possible were it not for the efforts of the National Archives and Records Administration staff in Washington D.C., who preserve and have digitised this material.


National Archives Pension Files

Find A Grave

U.S. Army Register of Enlistments

New York Muster Roll Database

Categories: General, Nineteenth Century | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cork’s Workhouse Children Visit Rostellan, 1866-7

Rostellan Castle and demense were once among the best known “pleasure-gardens” in Cork. Through the 19th century it was a popular destination for visitors to the harbour, and was a frequent venue for excursions and concerts, including a fireworks display on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s visit. But in 1866 and 1867 visitors of a different sort made their way from the pier in Aghada across the bridge into Rostellan demesne. There were hundreds of them, and unlike those that had gone before they were not from the upper echelons of Irish society– rather they were amongst the poorest and most underprivileged in the entire county. 

The bridge and lodge at Rostellan. The Workhouse children would have made their way into Rostellan Castle from this route (Sara Nylund)

The bridge and lodge at Rostellan. The Workhouse children would have crossed here and made their way through the Schoolmaster’s Meadow en-route to Rostellan Castle and gardens. The Castle stood until the 1940s, on a site to the right of the present-day driveway of Aghada GAA Club (Sara Nylund)

On Saturday 17 August 1867, 530 children left Cork City for Rostellan. They had come from the Cork Union Workhouse (now St. Finbarr’s Hospital), and were embarking on a trip to which they had long been looking forward. Boarding the steamer Citizen at Merchant’s Quay a little after 9 o’clock, they were joined by Mr. Steele, master of the house; the matron Mrs. Steele, the school teachers, and Rev. Mr. O’Mahony, the Catholic chaplain. Another stop was scheduled for Glenbrook where the Rev. Dr. Webster, Protestant chaplain and Mr. Mullan, J.P., came aboard. As the steamer made its way across Cork Harbour, the Workhouse Fife-and-Drum band entertained the children on their way to the pier in Aghada. From there they walked to Rostellan, crossing the bridge to enter the demesne of Rostellan Castle, then in the ownership of Dr. T.A. Wise, who had given permission for the children to access the grounds for the day:

…the children were encouraged to amuse themselves in every pleasant way child nature could devise. Some went bathing; some played carious childish games; racing matches were organised…and the winning boys were rewarded…with what in the eyes of workhouse boys were splendid prizes, though consisting only of a few coppers and diminutive silver pieces.

At intervals the band would strike up, accompanied by around 50 of the children who were part of the Workhouse singing class. Among the tunes heard across the demesne were Lily of the Vale, Morning Bells, Come to the Hedgerows and Good News from Home, with the children finishing with God Save the Queen. 

An 1867 broadside of "Lily of the Vale", sung by the Workhouse children in Rostellan (National Library of ScotlandL.C.1269(166b) )

An 1867 broadside of “Lily of the Vale”, sung by the Workhouse children in Rostellan (National Library of ScotlandL.C.1269(166b) )

At 2 o’clock a dinner of roast beef, ham and bread was served, after which the children were given the freedom of the grounds until 5. Then they were given tea, coffee and bread before being addressed by the adults with remarks “of an encouraging and hopefully character” and promises of “another and even a better trip soon.”

Leaving Rostellan at 6 o’clock, by 7 the children were back aboard the steamer heading for Cork, receiving a final meal of buns before returning to the Workhouse–and reality– at 9.

The Workhouse officials were true to their word, and only a few months later, on 11 July 1868, the children were once again making their way to Merchant’s Quay and boarding the Citizen. The excursion was reported in the Cork Examiner:

The expeditionary party was composed of the pauper children of the Cork Workhouse…a repetition of the experiment of last year, the event far exceeded it in the amount of enjoyment it yielded to the poor children, and its marked success in every respect was worthy even of the holy cause of humanity and benevolence in whose name it was undertaken.

The money for the trip had been raised through public subscription, and this time the main party consisted of 236 boys and 180 girls, all between the ages of nine and fifteen and accompanied by their Workhouse teachers. There were also 153 infants and 78 children from the hospitals, the grand total for the excursion being 650 children and 33 adults. The Workhouse Fife-and-drum band were also back. These children were representing the Workhouse, and so were dressed accordingly. The boys wore “smart grey suits” and the girls “blue dresses, white pinafores and light cotton sun-bonnets.” The Examiner correspondent noted that the children looked a lot healthier than they had on their previous visit to Rostellan, adding somewhat condescendingly:

Amongst both boys and girls there [are] many pretty, intelligent, and interesting children– indeed the entire aspect of the band, as it set out, was utterly at variance with the conventional estimate of the workhouse children.

Milestones in place on the bridge at Rostellan, with Rostellan Lake in the background, and the main site of the former pleasure gardens at left (Damian Shiels)

Milestones in place on the bridge at Rostellan, with Rostellan Lake in the background, and the main site of the former pleasure gardens at left (Damian Shiels)

This second visit also left behind a description of the set-up aboard the steamer Citizen: 

The quarter-deck, sheltered by an awning, being assigned to the girls and infants; and the steerage or forward deck to the boys. Amidships were several large hampers, baskets and barrels…two of the largest baskets contained 750 parcels of meat, consisting of ham and beef, roast and boiled; two or three other baskets also contained meat; there were 2,000 loaves of bread, besides six barrels of biscuits; seven large cases of lemonade; three large casks of fresh water, iced; a hue basket of ripe cherries, & c.

Stops at Glenbrook and Monkstown brought aboard Reverend Webster and Felix Mullan J.P., the latter armed with two large hampers of gooseberries, footballs for the boys and smaller balls for the girls. On arriving at Aghada at 11 o’clock, the boys:

Headed by their band, they marched to the strand, and a curious scene followed. There was a simultaneous flutter of garments–the grey gave place to white linen, and that was as quickly discarded for nature’s own covering. A simultaneous rush into the sea ensued, and for the next half hour, nearly three hundred boys were gambolling boisterously in the flood.

Meantime the girls were all to taken on a trip to East Ferry, with both groups making for Rostellan demesne afterwards. After playing in the woods for a few hours, the feast began “beneath the pleasant shade of the trees”:

The boys were arranged on one side, the girls on the other; and the infants formed a separate division in the background…the several officers present, served out the food to the children according to age. All did ample justice to the viands, of which there was more than sufficient. Dr. Wise kindly added a large supply of new potatoes, hot from the kitchen of Rostellan Castle. After dinner, the girls sang a number of songs with great sweetness and singular accuracy as to time. The boys’ band also came into effective service, and two hours more having being passed in a variety of pleasant ways, the party returned to Aghada in high delight.

As the Cork Examiner noted, it does need much imagination to realise how strongly excursions such as those to Rostellan demesne “contrasted with the ordinary routine of a workhouse child’s life.” In an era when the poor were viewed as either “deserving” or “undeserving” depending on their circumstances, Workhouses were intentionally made to be unpleasant places lest the “lazy” try and exploit them. It was usually left to benevolent societies or individuals to offer additional assistance, such as raising the funds to allow for the trip to Rostellan. Visitors to the demesne today can still view the tantalising remnants of this once extravagant landscape, which in 1866 and 1867 offered Cork’s least fortunate children a few hours respite before a return to the hardship and toil that was the reality of their everyday existence.

Remains of an icehouse at Rostellan, with surviving traces of the walled garden beyond (Sara Nylund)

Remains of an icehouse at Rostellan, with surviving traces of the walled garden beyond (Sara Nylund)


Cork Examiner 19 August 1867

Cork Examiner 13 July 1868


Categories: Rostellan | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Search of Cork’s First World War American Doughboys: New York

Recent years have seen a dramatic upsurge in interest in Irish participation in the Great War, particularly with respect to service in the British military. Thousands of Irish men and women also served in the armed forces of other Allied nations, particularly those of the United States. However, little work has been carried out on their experiences, largely because it is extremely difficult to uncover details regarding the nativity of those who went into the conflict wearing the uniform of Uncle Sam. This is principally due to the catastrophic 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, which destroyed vast numbers of 20th century American military personnel records. As part of our U.S. Military in Ireland Centenary Project, we decided to take a look at one surviving record source, the New York State Abstracts of World War I Military Service, in an effort to determine how many had been identified as being from Cork. That search revealed the names of almost 450 men and women. A portion of the database we compiled is presented below, providing information on the name, place of birth, rank, age at enlistment, unit, overseas service and fate of these hundreds of Cork emigrants.

Men of the 77th Division on the front line, 1918 (History of the Seventy Seventh Division)

Doughboys of the 77th Division on the front line, 1918. The 77th had large numbers of Irishmen in the ranks (History of the Seventy Seventh Division)

The database on which this listing was based was prepared by Paul Higgins, who carried out the work while on placement in our Rubicon Heritage offices. Our full database contains additional information which space constraints prevent us from including here, such as the actions some of the men were recorded as serving in, whether they were disabled as a result of their service, and whether they had received a gallantry award. Paul also sought to uncover additional detail on the individuals listed where possible. Readers should note that the detail should be taken as a guide only– during our work we have identified that the card details are not always 100% accurate. The cards themselves were transcribed in 1920 as abstracts of the military service records. The database provides only a small snapshot of Irish service in the American military during the Great War; even with respect to Corkonians and New York, there were undoubtedly many more who went into American service not recorded here. The creation of the database has brought to light numerous interesting stories, which we intend to return to in future posts. As an introduction to what the material can reveal, we take the opportunity to here to briefly explore one aspect– those men from Cork who were killed in action.

Doughboys of the 77th Division waiting for the Jump Off, France, 1918 (History of the Seventy Seventh Division)

Doughboys of the 77th Division waiting for the jump off, France, 1918 (History of the Seventy Seventh Division)

Killed in Action

A total of twenty of the men in the database were recorded as having being killed in action (see Table 1 below). Undoubtedly the most famous of these is Daniel Buckley from Ballydesmond. He lost his life while serving with the 165th Infantry on 17th October 1918. Daniel has a particular claim to fame in that he survived the sinking of RMS Titanic in 1912. His service in the 165th Infantry is no surprise, given that this was the designation of the 69th New York National Guard, the famed Irish unit. As the full database shows, it was a regiment filled with Irishmen during World War One.

Daniel Buckley, survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, who was killed in action as an American Doughboy in World War One (Image via Wikipedia)

Daniel Buckley, survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, who was killed in action as an American Doughboy in World War One (Image via Wikipedia)

The 69th or 165th went to war as part of the 42nd “Rainbow” Division. Another of the Cork men to fall in its ranks was Sergeant William O’Neill, from Bantry. During fighting in Champagne in July 1918 he continued on the line despite being wounded, “till death claimed him in the heat of the fray”(Duffy 1919:138)His death has added poignancy given the fact that two of his brothers, Eugene and Jerome, were also serving with the regiment. The regiment’s chaplain, Father Francis Duffy (who is remembered with a monument in Time Square) recalled that ‘”The three O’Neills and Bernard Finnerty as also Sergeant Spillane of Machine Gun Company came from the town of Bantry. “Rebel Cork” added new leaves to its laurel wreath of valor in this battle on the plains of Champagne”‘ (Ibid.).

William Donovan 69th New York

During the war the 1st Battalion of the 165th (69th New York) was led by William “Wild Bill” Donovan. A proud Irish-American with family origins in Skibbereen, he earned the Medal of Honor and later became the first head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War Two, the forerunner of the CIA. He is often referred to as the “Father of American Intelligence.” (United States Army)

Perhaps the greatest number of Irishmen served with the 77th Division, which was drawn from New York and was often called the “Liberty Division.” They are also a reminder that although those Irish who served from Ireland in the war were all regulars or volunteers, many of the Irish who went to the front as doughboys were conscripted. There were three main types of American divisions during the war– the Regular Army Divisions, made up of professional soldiers, the National Guard Divisions (such as the 42nd Division of which the 69th New York was a part) and the National Army Divisions, which was made up of men inducted into the military by draft boards. The 77th Division was one of the latter, and was the first National Army Division to go to Europe (77th Division Association 1919: 7). So many Irish served in the 77th Division that the regimental history carried a cartoon of the Irishmen’s reactions upon seeing the coast of Ireland while the troops traveled to Europe– and war– in 1917.

When the Irish Sighted Ireland (History of the Seventy Seventh Division)

‘When the Irish Sighted Ireland’ (History of the Seventy Seventh Division)

The 77th Division consisted of the 305th, 306th, 307th and 308th Regiments along with the 305th and 306th Machine Gun Battalions, the 304th, 305th and 306th Field Artillery Regiments and the 302nd Trench Mortar Battery. Readers will come across these units frequently in the database below, and a number of the Cork men who died served in its ranks. Some of them fell in actions that have become part of American military legend. One such engagement was that of the “Lost Battalion”. In October 1918, nine companies of the 77th were cut off for days in the Argonne Forest– an incident that inflicted not only severe hardship but horrendous casualties on the men engaged. One of those to fall early in the fighting was James Lynch of the 308th Infantry. A native of Youghal, he was mortally wounded while trying to carry news to the rear early in the advance. The divisional history records the moment he went down:

The forest at this point was infested with German machine gun nests and snipers, the enemy having brought up strong reinforcements, which made rapid advance extremely difficult and precarious. Private James Lynch, one of the runners of the Company, was sent from here with a message to the rear by the Company Commander. When gone only a short distance he was mortally wounded by machine gun fire, later dying in the advanced First Aid Station. His death was an extreme loss to the Company, since he was an able and fearless dispatch carrier. (Hussey & Flynn 1919:48)

The area where the 'Lost Battalion' were engaged in 1918 (History of Company E, 308th Infantry)

The area where the ‘Lost Battalion’ were engaged in 1918 (History of Company E, 308th Infantry)

Another Cork man in the 77th Division was Patrick Shea from Adrigole on the Beara Peninsula. The young man was in his mid-twenties at the time of the war, and was a majorly popular figure in his regiment, the 305th Infantry. When the unit history was written in 1919, he featured prominently. One of the stories told about him related to the time when the men were still in training. With the approach of Yom Kippur, it was announced that any man of the Jewish faith would be permitted passes to go to New York. As the history told it ‘a knock was heard at a certain orderly room door. In the gloomy hallway stood a big, strapping fellow who made known his desire for a pass. “You want to to go in for Yom Kippur?” “Yiss, sorr.” “What’s your name?” “Patrick Shea”‘ (Tiebout 1919: 18)Patrick was killed in action in the final days of the war. His comrades never forgot him:

Good old Pat; one of the best fighting Irishmen that ever struggled through the Argonne with his back-breaking burden, a Hotchkiss machine gun. Nearly everybody in the Regiment knew Pat Shea, of the Machine Gun Company, and felt mightily bitter when he lost his life at the Meuse, in the last few minutes of the war. (Ibid.)

Cartoon accompanying the story of Pat Shea in the History of the 305th Infantry (history of the 305th Infantry)

Cartoon accompanying the story of Pat Shea in the History of the 305th Infantry (History of the 305th Infantry)

Another Cork man to serve in the 305th was Sergeant Michael Kelleher. Like Pat he would not survive the war. He received a posthumous divisional citation for his actions on the Western Front:

G.O. 36, May 8, 1919.

Kelleher, Sgt. Michael (deceased), 1692867, Co. K, 305th Inf.– On Sept. 26-27, 1918, with his platoon performed the duties of a combat liaison group in the Argonne Forest between the 77th Division and the 28th Division on our right. At one time the artillery fire to which he was periodically subjected became particularly severe, 16 men of his unit being wounded. Despite this fact, Sgt. Kelleher, with cheerful disregard for his own safety, personally dressed and aided his wounded men and successfully maintained the morale of his unit, held his position and continued efficiently to carry out his mission without interruption. He was later killed in the Bois de la Naza, Oct. 5th, while gallantly leading his platoon in action.

Next of kin– Mrs. M. Donnell, aunt, 178 Devoe Street, Brooklyn (Ibid., 282).

Troops of the 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division on the march in France, June 1918 (Imperial War Museum via Wikipedia)

Doughboys of the 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division on the march in France, June 1918 (Imperial War Museum via Wikipedia)

The details of the twenty Cork men we identified as being killed in action while serving with New York units during the First World War are outlined in Table 1 below.

Name Place Rank Age at Enlistment/Induction Unit (Final) Actions Recorded Killed Date Award/Citation
Buckley, Daniel Cork Private First Class 26 K Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Rouge Bouquet Campagne; Chateau Thierry; Argonne Yes 17/10/18
Byrne, Patrick J Cork Private 29 69 New York National Guard Champagne; Ourcq, Luneville Yes 26/07/18
Crowley, Timothy John Dunmanway Segeant 27 C Company, 306 Infantry Yes 20/08/18
Donovan, Denis Cork Private First Class 30 A Company, 69 Infantry NYNG(165 Infantry) Foret Porroy; Baccaret; Champagne; Chateau Thierry Yes 29/07/18
Driscoll, William Cork Private 23 I Company, 307 Infantry. Yes 09/09/18
Fitzgibbon, Michael Cork Corporal 27 C Company, 310 Infantry Bois de Montague Yes 19/09/18
Hourihan, John J Cork Private 30 B Company, 9 Machine Gun Battalion Second battle of Marne; Chateau Thierry; Jaulgonne; Vesle River; St. Mihiel; Verdun. Yes 12/10/18 Yes
Kelleher, Michael Cork Sergeant 28 K Company, 305 Infantry, Yes 05/10/18
Lynch, James Youghal Private 26 Machine Gun Company, 308 Infantry Yes 07/10/18
Lynch, John Bantry Private 26 H Company, 115 Infantry Yes 18/09/18
Mahony, Patrick Cork Private 25 B Company, 147 Machine Gun Battalion Northwest of Verdun; Belgium Front Yes 02/11/18
Murphy, Daniel Mitchelstown Private First Class 21 C Company, 305 Machine Gun Battalion Yes 07/09/18
O’Connell, Thomas Cork Private 27 Machine Gun Company, 308 Infantry Yes 16/10/18
O’Leary, Bartholomew Castletown Berehaven Sergeant 29 D Company, 14 Machine Gun Battalion Yes 29/10/18
O’Neill, William Bantry Sergeant 23 H Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Rouge Banquet; Luneville; Ancerviller; Baccorat; Anherine; Champagne Yes 15/07/18
Ring, William J Cork Private First Class 25 K Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Champagne; Chateau Thierry; Chausailles. Yes 28/07/18
Shea, Patrick Adrigole Private 26 Machine Gun Company, 305 Infantry Yes 01/11/18
Sullivan, John Skibbereen Private 28 C Company, 308 Infantry Yes 24/06/18
Sullivan, Patrick J Charleville Private 29 C Company, 308 Infantry “June24/18. No specific battles shown” Yes 24/06/18
Sullivan, Patrick Cork Private 25 C Company, 308 Infantry Yes 01/10/18

Table 1. Those in the database recorded as killed in action. 

77th Division Dressing Station in a Church in La Chalade, October 1918

77th Division Dressing Station in a Church in La Chalade, October 1918 (History of the Seventy Seventh Division)

Future posts will explore different aspects of the database, such as those who were cited for bravery, and an examination of the Cork nurses who served in the American forces from New York. You can explore the full database, listing all of the Cork natives we have identified, below.


Name Place Rank Age Unit (Final) Overseas Killed Date Wounded Date
Ahearn, Cornelius F Cork Master Engineer 31 HQ Detachment 5 Grand Division Transport Company Yes
Ahearn, Jerry Joseph Kinsale Private 21 6 Company Engineers Fort Schuyler No
Ahern, William Joseph Midleton Lieutenant (J.G.) 48 USS Hercules (lighter) N/A
Ahern, John J Cork Master Engineer 38 HQ Company 701 Engineers Yes
Ahern, Cornelius Cork Cook 32 12 Infantry No
Ahern, John Cork Private First Class 28 Motor Transport Department Machine Gun School No
Ahern. William C Mallow Private 24 Brooks F Flying Detachment Squadron A No
Ahern, Eugene F Cork Private First Class 23 Base Hospital Camp Upton No
Aherne, Michael Whitegate Private First Class 29 302 Ammunition Train Yes
Allen, Henry J Queenstown Sergeant 26 3 Regiment Motor Mechanics Yes
Armstrong, Edward Cork Sergeant 21 5 Track Mortar Battalion Yes
Bannon, William J Ballymore (Cork?) Private 32 1 Replacement Depot Yes Severely 28/07/18
Barrett, Robert J Cork Musician 31 HQ Company 106 Field Artillery Yes
Barrett, Michael T Cork Private 30 Medical Detachment Camp Eustis No
Barrett, Patrick R Cork Wagoner 28 Battery B 57 Artillery Coast Artillery Corps Yes Severely 09/11/18
Barrett, Cornelius J Cork Private 24 L Company, 105 Infantry Yes Slightly 20/10/18
Barrow, David Mallow Private 28 D Company, 501 Engineers Yes
Barrow, John Cork Sergeant 21 M Company, 69th Infantry NYNG(165 Infantry) Yes Severely 07/11/18
Barry, Joseph C Queenstown Private First Class 30 F Company, 163 Infantry Yes
Barry, Daniel Cork Private 25 A Company, 109 Infantry Yes Severely 11/11/18
Barry, Daniel Cork Private 24 B Company, 12 Infantry NYNG No
Barry, Richard Cork Private First Class 22 7 Company, 2 Motor Mechanised Yes
Bennet, Michael Cork Master Engineer 29 HQ, 301 Stevedore Yes
Bennning, Geoffrey J Youghal Corporal 23 I Company, 52 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Blake, William Cork Bugler 31 HQ Company, 1 infantry Yes
Bohan, Thomas Cork Private 23 G Company, 165 Infantry (69 New York National Guard) Yes Slightly 30/07/18
Bohan, Peter J Cork Private 23 G Company, 165 Infantry (69 New York National Guard) Yes Undetermined 03/05/18
Bowles, Richard J Cork Private 21 A Battery, 42 Artillery Coast Artillery Corps Yes
Bradley, Dennis Cork Private 43 C Company, 22 Infantry No
Bradley, Jeremiah Cork Private 24 D Company, Ordinance Det, Aberdeen proving ground No
Brady, Joseph F Cork Cook 23 M Company, 165 Infantry (69 New York National Guard) Yes Severely 21/03/18
Bray, John H Cork Corporal 28 A Company, 16 Infantry Yes Slightly 09/10/18
Breen, David J Cork Private 26 B Company, 504 Engineer Battalion Yes
Brennan, Patrick F Cork Sergeant 41 A Company, 32 Infantry No
Brown, John F Cork Private 39 O Company, 21 Engineers No
Brown, Vincent Cork Private 20 D Company, 51 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Buckley, Patrick J Cork Corporal 27 I Company, 9 Infantry Yes Slightly 01/07/18
Buckley, Daniel Cork Private First Class 26 K Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Yes 17/10/18 Slightly 21/03/18
Buckley, John Cork Private First Class 23 Machine Gun Company, 308 Infantry Yes
Buckley, John Timothy Cork Private First Class 24 27 Company, MPC Yes
Burke, Thomas Cork Private First Class 31 K Company, 324 Infantry Yes
Burke, James J Cork Private 22 33 Field Artillery No
Burns, Andrew Cork Private First Class 24 E Company, 307 Infantry Yes Slightly 15/09/18
Byrne, Cornelius Cork Corporal 31 HQ Company, 3 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Byrne, Patrick J Cork Private 29 69 New York National Guard Yes Yes 26/07/18 Slightly 22/03/18
Callahan, John J Cork Private 31 152 Depot Brigade No
Callahan, Michael P Cork Cook 31 53 Depot Brigade No
Callahan, John F Cork Private First Class 26 L Company, 28 Infantry Yes Slightly 18/07/18
Callahan, William Skibbereen Sergeant 23 E Company, 307 Infantry Yes
Callan, William H Queenstown Private 23 Aut Replacement Draft Fort Totten NY No
Canavan, David F Cork Wagoner 29 Support Company, 42 Infantry No
Carey, Michael Cork 21 USMC, Bks Det, Hingham Mass No
Carmody, Joseph Francis Cork Lieutenant (Temp) 30 Duty Naval Ammunition Depot, Hingham Mass No
Carr, Patrick J Cork Private 18 D Company, 304 Ammuntion Train Yes
Carroll, Michael J Cork Corporal 29 152 Depot Brigade No
Carver, Patrick Cork Private 28 C Battery, 315 Field Artillery 15/04/18
Casey, John Patrick Cork Sergeant 49 USMC, Mare Island, CA No
Casey, Mathew Cork Private 32 Ordinance Depot, Panama No
Casey, Mathew Cork Private 33 B Company, 4 Infantry Yes Severely 23/07/18
Casey, Harry D Newmarket Private First Class 26 331 Infantry Yes
Casey, Charles Cork Private 26 160 Company, RTC Yes
Casey, Michael Cork Private 25 HQ Company, 323 Infantry Yes
Casey, Joseph Cork Private First Class 23 C Company, 130 Engineers Yes
Casey, Thomas Charleville Corporal 21 B Company, 329 Battalion, 305 Tank Brigade Yes
Clancy, Michael Enaughter Corporal 41 USMC, R.R. Quantico, VA No
Clark, Thomas J Cork Private 25 G Company, 168 Infantry Yes Slightly 12/09/18
Clarke, Benjamin Bantry Private 24 Motor Transport Company 741 No
Clifford, Richard P Queenstown Private 29 G Company, 48 Infantry No
Coakley, Cornelius Cork Private 27 C Company, 51 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Coakley, John J Cork Private First Class 27 F Company, 323 Infantry Yes
Coakley, James Joseph Cork Corporal 24 G Company, 52 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Coffey, William J Cork Private 22 Medical Department Base Hospital 214 Yes
Collins, Daniel J Cork Private 35 A Battery, 37 Artillery, Coastal Artillery Corps No
Collins, James Cork Wagoner 26 HQ Company, 308 Infantry Yes
Collins, John J Cork 2nd Lieutenant 27 Camp Devens, Mass No
Collins, John J Cork Sergeant 23 HQ COTS, Camp Pike, Ark, No
Collins, Patrick J Queenstown Private First Class 27 F Battery, 309 Field Artillery Yes
Collins, John Joseph Cork Private 26 G Company, Sec B Syracuse University Students Army Training Corps Syracuse No
Collins, Cornelius Queenstown Corporal 24 G Company, 324 Infantry Yes
Comerford, John Patrick Cork Corporal 24 A Company, 306 Infantry Yes Slightly 24/08/18
Condon, Jeremiah Queenstown Sergeant 29 Med Storage Station, MD Yes
Connaughton, Michael Joseph Ballymore (Cork?) Corporal 28 M Trk Co 464 M Sup Tn 417 Yes
Connors, James Cork Sergeant 46 Ordinance Corps Yes
Conway, Maurice Millstreet Private 23 L Company, 303 Infantry Yes
Corcoran, Patrick J Cork Sergeant 40 Military Police, Company 1 Yes
Costello, Peter Matthew Bantry Sup Sergeant 27 M Company, 52 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Cotter, Garrett T Cork Private First Class 32 10 Company, 20 Engineers Yes
Coughlan, Cornelius Schull Private 29 L Company, 328 Infantry Yes
Coughlin, Edward Cork Private 29 H Company, 303 Infantry Yes
Coughlin, Timothy Cork Private 30 21 Company, Machine Gun Division, Machine Gun Training Center No
Cowhig, Daniel Cork Private 29 M Company, 2 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Cronin, Thomas J Cork Private 25 Depot Regiment 304, No
Cronin, William Edward Cork Private 22 B Company, 310 Infantry Yes Slightly 26/09/18
Croston, Jobe Cork Private 22 B Battery, 43 Artillery CAC Yes
Crowley, John J Cork Corporal 29 Chemical Warfare Service Camp, Kendrick NJ No
Crowley, Timothy John Dunmanway Segeant 27 C Company, 306 Infantry Yes Yes 20/08/18
Crowley, Patrick J Cork Private First Class 27 G Company, 311 Infantry Yes
Crowley, Stephen Cork Private First Class 22 B Company, 302 Engineers Yes
Curran, Owen Newmarket Sergeant 27 E Company, 302 Ammunition Train Yes
Curtin, Denis D Rockchapel Sergeant 23 HQ Company, 44 Artillery CAC Yes
Cusack, Thomas Cork Private 27 33 Prisoner of war Esctort Company Yes
Daly, John J Cork Private 41 F Company, 104 Infantry Yes
Daly, Patrick Cork Private First Class 31 C Company, 318 Machine Gun Battalion Yes
Daly, Thomas Cork Private 30 152 Depot Brigade No
Daly, Timothy Cork Wagoner 29 Support Company, 303 Infantry Yes
Daly, Edward M Newmarket Private 27 A Company, 305 Machine Gun Battallion Yes
Daly, John Cork Sergeant 23 D Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes
Daly, John J Schull Corporal 27 Quartermaster Corps No
Daly, Thomas Cork Private 24 299 Aer Provisional Service Squadron No
Daly, Thomas S Cork Private First Class 23 279 Aer Squadron ASSC Yes
Daly, Arthur J Cork Corporal 22 330 Infantry Yes
Daly, Nicholas A Cork Sergeant 25 RTC Receiving depot MG training center Camp Hancock No
Davis, William B Queenstown Wagoner 23 C Battery, 309 Field Artillery Yes
Deasy, John M Cork Private 28 A Company, 306 Engineers No
Desmond, Daniel Cork Private 29 B Company, 51 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Dillon, Jerome Schull Private 30 D Company, 11 Machine Gun Battalion, Yes
Dilworth, Daniel Cork Corporal 28 L Company, 306 Infantry Yes Slightly 14/10/18
Dinan, Bartholomew J Cork Private 28 C Company, 69 Infantry NY National Guard No
Dineen, John Cork Private First Class 28 MD Base Hospital 135 No
Doherty, Daniel D Rathmore Private 27 Provost Guard Company, Camp Hancock GA No
Donegan, James J Cork Private First Class 26 Ordinance Casual Company 67 Yes
Donnellan, Thomas West Cork Private 27 MD No
Donoghue, Daniel J Riverstick Private 28 L Company, 346 Infantry Yes
Donovan, Denis Cork Private First Class 30 A Company, 69 Infantry NYNG(165 Infantry) Yes Yes 29/07/18
Donovan, Denis J Cork Sergeant 26 M Company, 69th Infantry NYNG(165 Infantry) Yes Slightly 22/03/18
Donovan, James Kinsale Private 30 G Company, 52 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Donovan, Joseph D Cork Private First Class 29 Camp Utilities Det QMC Camp Upton, NY No
Donovan, Michael Bauravilla Private 29 4 Co CAC Ft Warren Mass No
Donovan, Charles Cork Private First Class 28 A Company, 312 Machine Gun Battalion Yes
Donovan, Cornelius Cork Private 29 E Battery, 30 Artillery CAC No
Donovan, Jeremiah Cork Private 26 D Battery, 306 Field Artillery Yes
Donovan, Jeremiah J Cork Sergeant 26 825 Aero Squadron Yes
Donovan, John Joseph Bantry Private 26 M Company, 348 Infantry Yes
Donovan, John V Cork Corporal 25 COTS Camp Lee, VA No
Donovan, Henry J Skibbereen Private 24 HQ Company, 348 Infantry Yes
Donovan, Michael Skibbereen Private First Class 22 C Company, 59 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Donovan, Michael P Cork Private 19 G Troop, 12 Cavalry No
Dowling, Hugh Cork Private 26 Vet Hospital # 13 Yes
Driscoll, John Queenstown Bosun (Prov) 55 Mine Sweeping Division, Tompkinsville S.I., NY N/A
Driscoll, Michael P Cork Private First Class 30 Sup Company, 305 Infantry Yes
Driscoll, Denis J Bantry Sergeant 28 Quartermaster Corps, Fort Slocum, NY. No
Driscoll, John J Cork Private 27 340 Motorised Truck Company No
Driscoll, Jerry Cork Private 25 Quartermast Corps, Service Company 3, Camp Johnston, FL No
Driscoll, Dennis Cork Sergeant 24 TC at large AEF Yes
Driscoll, William Cork Private 23 I Company, 307 Infantry. Yes Yes 09/09/18
Driscoll, James Kinsale Corporal 22 E Company, 307 Engineer Yes
Drislane, Kennis, J Fermoy Mechanic 25 B Battery, 15 Field Artillery, Yes
Duffy, James Cork Chief Water Tender 41 Headquarters, 3rd Naval District N/A
Dwyer, Neil Patrick Cork Corporal 46 USMC, Ft. Lafayette NY No
Dwyer, Robert Bantry Private First Class 24 Machine Gun Company, 308 Infantry Yes
Dwyer, Jeremiah Cork Private 22 11 Company Nov Aut Repl Draft, Camp Wheeler, GA No
Dynan, William G Cork Sergeant 26 I Company 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Slightly 14/10/18
Evans, Daniel Cork Sergeant 26 C Company 307 F Signal Battalion, Yes
Farley, Patrick Stephen Cork Lieutenant (J.G.) 50 (USN), Det. HELUNTA to receiving ship, Norfolk VA. N/A
Feore, James Cork Private 25 D Company, 306 Infantry, Yes
Fitzgerald, Thomas D Cork Private 28 A Company, 56 Machine Gun Battalion No
Fitzgibbon, Michael Cork Corporal 27 C Company, 310 Infantry Yes Yes 19/09/18
Fitzgibbon, John Fermoy Private First Class 22 HQ Company, 305 Infantry yes
Fitzpatrick, William Cork HS Mechanic 27 E Battery, 80 Field Artillery Yes
Fitzpatrick, Dennis Millstreet Private First Class 26 77 Military Police Company Yes
Flynn, Daniel J Cork Private First Class 29 H Company, 310 Infantry Yes
Foley, William Youghal Private 28 C Company, 9 Battalion US Gds No
Foley, Bartholomew Cork Private 21 E Company, 11 Engineers Yes
Ford, Denis Cork Private 21 15 Company, Coast Artillery Corps No
Ford, Daniel Cork Private First Class 19 I Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Severely 28/07/18
Forde, Michael J Cork Sergeant 31 Brd Sup Det Raritan Arsenal NJ Yes
Galvin, Denis D Cork Private 24 H Company, 26 Infantry Yes Severely 05/10/18
Geaney, William V Cork Private 25 2 Ordinance Company, 2 Co Ord Repair shop Yes
Godson, John J Cork Private 30 B Company, 303 Infantry. MD to discharge Yes
Goggin, Frank J Cork Private 29 Machine Gun training center, Camp Hancock, GA No
Goggin, Cornelius Cork Private 27 C Company, 2 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Gould, Denis Cork Private First Class 24 E Company, 2 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Goulding, John J Cork Private 27 C Battery, 31 Field Artillery No
Gregory, Michael J Cork Corporal 33 L Company, 37 Infantry No
Griffin, Michael Cork Private First Class 32 Ordinance Depot, 117 Ordinance repair Shop Yes
Griffin, John A Cork Private 22 C Company, 16 Engineers, Yes
Griffin, Gerald J Cork Bn Sergeant Major 18 HQ Company, 52 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Hagerty, John Cork Private 30 H Company, 164 Infantry Yes
Hagerty, Timothy H Cork Private 28 Camp Wheeler, GA. Nv Aut Repl Draft No
Halliday, Robert Ballymore (Cork?) Chauffeur 23 HQ Detachment, 102 Field Signal Battalion Yes
Halpin, John Cork Sergeant 22 M Company, 12 Infantry NYNG (52 Pioneer ) Yes
Harrigan, Jeremiah Cork Saddler 38 B Battery, 104 Field Artillery Yes
Harrington, James J Adrigole Private First Class 29 L Company, 307 Infantry Yes Slightly 23/08/18
Harrington, Jeremiah Cork Private First Class 29 H Company, 326 Infantry Yes Slightly 11/10/18
Harrington, Peter J Cork Private 30 G Company, 58 Infantry Yes Slightly 04/10/18
Hart, Maurice Cork Private 33 L Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Slightly 28/07/18
Hart, Thomas H Garryduff Private First Class 23 M Company, 67 Infantry No
Hartnett, Jerry Cullen Private 31 5 Company, Coast Artillery Corps, Portland Ft William ME No
Hartnett, James Cork Private 29 74 NY Infantry NG No
Hartnett, Thomas C Cork Private 24 E Battery 2 Field Artillery NYNG (105 Field Artillery) Yes Slightly 06/11/18
Harty, John Cork Private 30 156 Company, C Def of NH, Ft. Constitution No
Hawkins, Thomas P Cork Private 23 C Battery, 305 Field Artillery Yes
Hayes, Patrick B Cork Sergeant 36 M Company 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Slightly 22/03/18
Healy, Lawrence J Cork Corporal 22 B Battery, 309 Field Artillery Yes
Heany, Patrick J Cork First Sergeant 25 D Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Degree Undetermined 30/07/18
Hickey, Andrew Cork Private First Class 33 F Company, 21 Engineers Yes
Higgins, Denis Queenstown Corporal 32 6 Provisional Ordinance Depot, Camp Stanley, TX No
Hill, Thomas P Cork Private First Class 29 C Company, 302 Field Signal Battalion Yes
Holland, Michael Bantry Sergeant 31 Depot Quartermaster, Camp Hancock, GA No
Holland, Patrick Cork Corporal 24 92 Motor Transport Company, Motor Transport Corps Yes
Horan, Peter Cork First Sergeant 26 G Company, 69 Infantry No
Horgan, Cornelius Cork Corporal 28 I Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Slightly 14/10/18
Hosford, John W A Cork Private First Class 24 HQ Company, 15 Field Artillery, QMC to discharge Yes
Hourihan, John J Cork Private 30 B Company, 9 Machine Gun Battalion Yes Yes 12/10/18
Howard, James Cork Private 30 K Company, 307 Infantry, Yes Severely 14/09/18
Humphries, James Cork Private 30 A Company, 51 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Hurley, Daniel Cork Corporal 28 C Battery, 38 Artillary, Coast Artillery Corps No
Hurley, Jeremiah Cork Private First Class 26 F Company, 308 Infantry, Yes Slightly 30/09/18
Hurley, Jerome Bernard Cork Private 24 A Company, 302 Engineers Yes
Hurley, Richard Cork Private 24 H Company, 305 Infantry No
Johnson, James H Cork Reg Sergeant Major 45 HQ Company, 7 Infantry Yes Slightly 04/10/18
Johnston, George William Cork Lieutenant (J.G.) 27 Naval School, Columbia University, USN N/A
Jordan, Eugene Cork Private First Class 24 HQ Company, 347 Infantry Yes
Kane, Lawrence J Cork Private First Class 29 MD General Hospital 14 Ft. Oglethorpe No
Keane, Thomas L Cork Private 23 H Company, 108 Infantry Yes Slightly 29/09/18
Kearney, Michael Newmarket Captain 43 Jd. Mare Island CA. No
Keating, Daniel Cork Corporal 30 Ordinance C, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD No
Keefe, John J Cork Private 40 A Company, 215 Engineers No
Keleher, Dennis Cork Sergeant 37 School for bakers & Cooks, Camp Dix, NJ Yes
Kelleher, Michael Cork Sergeant 28 K Company, 305 Infantry, Yes Yes 05/10/18
Kelleher, Cornelius Macroom Private 27 E Company, 51 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Kelleher, Michael Cork Private 27 MD to discharge No
Kelleher, Patrick Cork Private 27 G Company, 328 Infantry Yes
Kelleher, Cornelius Cork Private 27 F Company, 355 Infantry Yes
Kelly, James Youghal Corporal 29 C Company, 305 Machine Gun Battalion Yes Degree Undetermined 07/09/18
Kelly, John J Cork Private 27 G Company, 166 Infantry Yes Slightly 13/09/18
Kennedy, Joseph H Cork Private First Class 30 B Company, 33 Engineers Yes
Kennedy, Edward Thomas Cork Private 23 A Company, 316 Machine Gun Battalion Yes
Kennedy, William V Cork Private 21 E Company, 308 Infantry Yes Degree Undetermined 14/08/18
Keohane, Denis Bantry Private First Class 26 Machine Gun training center, Camp Hancock, GA No
Keohane, Jeremiah Bantry Private 24 3 Company, 25 Ordinance supply No
Keyes, John Michael Cork Captain 42 Camp Dix, NJ Yes
Kiely, Michael Anthony Cork Lieutenant 30 461 Aer Squadron, No
Kingston, William Ballydehob Private 29 F Company, 25 Engineers Yes
Kingston, George S Drimoleague Private 25 A Battery, 304 Field Artillery Yes
Kinkead, Thomas M Cork Private 31 C Company, 105 Infantry Yes Severely 29/09/18
Kinnery, William A Cork Private First Class 29 D Company, 5 Machine Gun Battalion Yes
Landers, Robert F Cork Private 29 G Company, 45 Infantry No
Landy, Albert Cork Private 27 D Company, 501 Engineers Yes
Leahy, William Cork Private 29 224 Aero Squadron, Yes
Leary, Cornelius D Cork Private 29 A Company, 309 Infantry No
Leary, Timothy Cork Private First Class 29 B Company, 307 Infantry Yes Severely 28/08/18
Lenihan, Patrick Cork Cook 25 B Company, 163 Infantry/POW escort to discharge Yes
Long, Edward D Cork Private 27 Construction Co 9 Kelly F Tex Yes
Looney, James Cork Private 27 Engineers C Camp Humphreys, VA No
Looney, John J Cork Corporal 27 Med Det 9 Inf to discharge Yes Severely 01/06/18
Lucey, John J Kanturk Sergeant 23 MD 305 Infantry Yes Severely 07/11/18
Lucey, William Queenstown Ensign 22 Naval Auxilliary Reserve, NY/N.O.T.S. Baltimore N/A
Lynch, Jerome Mosley Cork Lt. Commander 47 Naval Hospital NY “America” N/A
Lynch, James J Cork Sergeant 39 HQ Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes
Lynch, James Youghal Private 26 Machine Gun Company, 308 Infantry Yes Yes 07/10/18
Lynch, Jeremiah S. Cork Private 26 B Battery, 305 Field Artillery, Yes
Lynch, John Bantry Private 26 H Company, 115 Infantry Yes Yes 18/09/18
Lynch, Michael Cork Private First Class 25 D Company, 305 Infantry Yes Slightly 16/08/18
Lyons, Daniel Bartholmon Cork Private First Class 30 B Company, 347 Infantry Yes
Madden, Stephen J Cork Private 34 Repl Engineers, Ft. Foote, MD Yes
Magner, Michael J Cork Sergeant 28 MD Post Hospital, Madison Barracks, NY No
Magner, William J Cork Corporal 26 Support Company 332 Camp Merritt, NJ No
Mahony, Michael Cork Sergeant 54 B Company, 443 Reserve Labor Battalion No
Mahony, James J Cork Private First Class 31 D Company, 38 Infantry Yes
Mahony, Stephen Cork Private First Class 25 Base Hospital #85 Yes
Mahony, Patrick Cork Private 25 B Company, 147 Machine Gun Battalion Yes Yes 02/11/18
Mahony, Michael J Cork Sergeant Mechanic 21 Quartermaster Corps Camp Greene, NC No
Maloney, Dan(iel) Cork Cook 21 B Company, 10 Infantry NYNG (51 Pioneer Infantry) Yes
Marks, James Christopher Jr. Cork 1st Lietenant 28 Infantry ASP No
Mason, Harry Cork Private First Class 30 D Company, 38 Infantry Yes
Massey, Arthur B Cork Private 32 157 Depot Brigade No
Maume, Gerald V Cork Private First Class 30 C Company, 345 Infantry, Yes
McAuliffe, Julia Cork Nurse 44 Post Hospital, Belgium, Camp Devens, Mass Yes
McAuliff, Cornelius J Cork Sergeant 30 General Hospital # 8, No
McAuliffe, Michael J Cork Sergeant 30 D Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Slightly 15/10/18
McAuliffe, Denis Cork Corporal 26 D Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Severely 14/10/18
McCarthy, Lawrence Clonakilty? Wagoner 21 MD F Hospital, 305 302 Sn Tn Yes
McCarthy, William Cork Private 31 K Company, 348 Infantry Yes
McCarthy, Denis Cork Sergeant 25 M Company, 69th Infantry NYNG(165 Infantry) Yes Twice, Slightly and Severely, 30/07/18
McCarthy, Michael J Skibbereen Private First Class 29 B Company, 321 Machine Gun Battalion Yes Slightly 16/10/18
McCarthy, Patrick Skibbereen? Private First Class 29 I Company, 306 Infantry Yes
McCarthy, William Cork Private First Class 29 231 MPC Yes
McCarthy, Edmond Finbar Cork 2nd Lieutenant 29 1 Replacement Depot, Yes
McCarthy, Frank Cork Private 28 M Company, 141 Infantry Yes Gassed severely 07/10/18
McCarthy, William Cork Private First Class 25 162 Dep Brigade No
McCarthy, Eugene J Cork Corporal 27 MD No
McCarthy, Alexander J Cork Private First Class 24 C Battery, 306 Field Artillery Yes
McCarthy, Eugene Cork Sergeant 24 A Company, 3 Infantry No
McCarthy, Bartholomew Cork Corporal 24 152 Depot Brigade No
McCarthy, Harry Cork Private 34 E Company, 42 Infantry No
McCarthy, Patrick J Cork Cook 21 L Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes
McDermott, Michael F Cork Sergeant 29 HQ Det Army Service Corps A PO 117 Yes
McDonald, Michael Youghal Private First Class 22 F Company, 108 Infantry Yes Slightly 29/09/18
McGillicuddy, John Cork Private 22 E Company, 69 Infantry NYNG No
McNamara, Bart Cork Corporal 29 F Battery, Field Artillery, NYNG (104 Field Artillery) Yes
McNamara, John Finbar Queenstown Lietenant (J.G.) 27 Naval Overseas Transportation Service NY “America” N/A
McSweeney, Myles J Cork Private First Class 31 47 Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps, No
McSweeney, Jeremiah W Bantry Private 27 HQ Company, 127 Field Artillery, Yes
Mills, George Glanmire Private 29 AS Mechanic School Det, St. Paul, Minn. No
Monahan, John J Cork Boatswain 44 On duty Armed Draft Detail, Navy Yard, NY N/A
Moore, John J Cork Private 22 I Company, 326 Infantry Yes
Morrissey, Michael Cork Wagoner 47 HQ Det, 102 Am Tn, Yes
Moynihan, Joseph P Cork Wagoner 31 Support Company, 18 Field Artillery, Yes
Moynihan, Eugene Cork Private 29 D Company, 7 Machine Gun Battalion No
Moynihan, Jerome Cork Master Sargeant? 29 A Company, 9 Machine Gun Battalion Yes
Moynihan, James J Ballingeary Private 21 B Company, 164 Infantry Yes
Mulcahy, Michael J Cork Private 26 C Company, 162 Infantry Yes Severely 09/10/18
Mullane, John Cork Private 30 C Battery, 304 Field Artillery Yes
Mullane, John Cork Private 27 Ambulance Company, 108 Sn Tn Yes
Mullane, John Cork Private 25 K Company, 350 Infantry Yes
Murphy, Daniel Cork Reg Sergeant Major 47 Infantry School of Arms Det No
Murphy, Dennis J Cork Private First Class 30 C Company, 318 Machine Gun Battalion Yes
Murphy, Patrick Cork Private 30 Quartermaster Corps No
Murphy, Jerome Cork Private First Class 27 Machine Gun Troop 3, Cavalry Yes
Murphy, Michael Kiskeam Private First Class 27 B Company, 30 Machine Gun Battalion No
Murphy, Peter Cork Private 28 A Company, 19 Battalion, US Guards No
Murphy, Cornelius Cork Private First Class 25 MD No
Murphy, Cornelius Cork Private 25 Machine Gun training center, Camp Hancock, GA No
Murphy, Denis Cork Sergeant 23 D Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry)/329 MG Battalion Yes Slightly 02/08/18
Murphy, Jeremiah Cork Corporal 24 G Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes
Murphy, Patrick J Cork Private 25 D Company, 302 Infantry Yes
Murphy, John P Queenstown Sergeant 23 H Company, 16 Infantry Yes Slightly 20/07/18
Murphy, Jeremiah Michael Cork Private 22 G Company, 2 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Murphy, Daniel Mitchelstown Private First Class 21 C Company, 305 Machine Gun Battalion Yes Yes 07/09/18
Murray, Thomas Cork Private 22 C Company, 305 Infantry Yes Severely 12/10/18
Nash, Robert Arthur Collenstown Cork? Machinist 26 Naval Auxilliary Reserve, N/A
Newman, Thomas P Cork Private 34 Provost Guard Company, Camp Jackson, SC. No
Newman, Denis Cork Private First Class 26 F Battery, 1 Field Artillery NYNG(104 Field Artillery) Yes
O’Brien, Jeremiah Cork Private 31 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 153 Dep Brigade No
O’Brien, Michael Cork Cook 27 K Company, 69 Infantry NYNG(165 Infantry) Yes Slightly 21/03/18
O’Brien, Thomas Cork Private 28 E Company, 108 Infantry Yes Degree undetermined 29/09/18
O’Brien, Daniel Cork Private 27 I Company, 18 Infantry Yes Slightly 02/10/18
O’Brien, Daniel Cork Wagoner 27 D Battery, 60 Field Artillery No
O’Brien, Michael D Clonakilty Private 26 Machine Gun Company, 105 Infantry Yes Slightly 29/09/18
O’Brien, Denis Cork Corporal 23 D Company, 69 Infantry NYNG(165 Infantry) Yes Slightly 12/09/18
O’Connell, Thomas Cork Private 27 Machine Gun Company, 308 Infantry Yes Yes 16/10/18
O’Connell, Dennis Grenagh Private 25 H Company, 308 Infantry Yes
O’Connell, John J Cork Chauffeur 23 HQ Det Rents Requisitions and Claims Co 41 Yes
O’Connor, Jeremiah Cork Mechanic 29 K Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Slightly 20/03/18
O’Connor, Jeremiah Cork Sergeant First Class 28 Motor Transport Corps Yes
O’Connor, Denis M Cork Sergeant 27 G Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) yes Slightly 31/07/18
O’Connor, Michael Cork Corporal 23 Bks Det No
O’Connor, William Cork Sergeant 27 Support Company, 306 Infantry Yes Severely 20/08/19
O’Connor, Bartholomew Cork Mechanic 26 E Battery, 306 Field Artillery Yes
O’Connor, David S. Cork Musician First Class 25 HQ Company, 322 Infantry Yes Slightly 09/11/18
O’Connor, Elizabeth Cork Nurse 25 General Hospital Fort Sheridan, IL Yes
O’Connor, Michael Cork Private 25 D Company, 307 Ammunition Train Yes
O’Donnell, James Cork Private 23 4 Grand Division Yes
O’Donohue, Denis Cork Private 30 K Company, 18 Infantry Yes
O’Donovan, Patrick J Cork Corporal 22 Quartermaster Corps Camp Wadsworth No
O’Dwyer, Patrick Cork Private First Class 21 B Company, 130 Engineers Yes
O’Gorman, James J Cork Private 21 E Company, 53 Infantry No
O’Hanlon, John Francis Cork Sergeant 33 626 Aero Squadron No
O’Keefe, Timothy Cork Private First Class 22 K Company, 9 Infantry Yes Slightly 15/07/18
O’Leary, Bartholomew Castletown Berehaven Sergeant 29 D Company, 14 Machine Gun Battalion Yes Yes 29/10/18
O’Leary, Daniel Cork Private First Class 31 806 Aero Squadron Yes
O’Leary, Timothy Blarney Corporal 29 Machine Gun training center, Camp Hancock, GA No
O’Leary, James Cork Private 27 D Company, 9 Machine Gun Battalion Yes Slightly 26/07/18
O’Leary, Timothy Cork Private 23 D Company, 69 Infantry NYNG No
O’Leary, Timothy Cork Private 24 14 Provisional Engineers Camp Humphreys* Yes
O’Leary, Patrick Cork Corporal 23 55 Company, Tank Corps Yes
O’Neill, Jerome Bantry Sergeant First Class 22 H Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes
O’Neill, William Bantry Sergeant 23 H Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Yes 15/07/18
O’Neill, Michael J Kanturk Private First Class 25 B Battery, 308 Field Artillery Yes
O’Regan, Jeremiah Cork Private First Class 32 C Company, 58 Infantry Yes
O’Reilly, Patrick Cork Private First Class 22 K Company, 9 Infantry Yes Slightly 01/11/18
O’Sullivan, Frank Theobald Cork 2nd Lieutenant 49 Veterinary Corps, AEF Camp Dix NJ Yes
O’Sullivan, William Cork Sergeant 28 HQ Company, 19 Infantry No
O’Sullivan, Patrick Cork Stable Sergeant 21 A Battery, 14 Field Artillery No
O’Sullivan, Patrick J Cork Private First Class 23 D Company, 52 Pioneer Infantry Yes
O’Sullivan, Timothy Cork Private First Class 23 E Company, 64 Infantry Yes
O’Sullivan, Frank Cork Private 21 M Company, 53 Infantry Yes
Owens, Bernard J Dromore Private First Class 18 H Company, 106 Infantry/Cas (in hosp) to discharge Yes Severely 28/09/18
Pattison, John Cork Private 26 56 Depot Brigade No
Perrott, Edward T Cork Private 29 E Company, 22 Infantry No
Phillips, Walter Passage West Corporal 27 Quartermaster Corps Yes
Powers, Bart T Queenstown Private 40 F Company, 12 Engineers Yes
Prendergast, Richard Francis Kinsale Lietenant (J.G.) 28 To duty reserve ship, New York N/A
Reen, John Cork Corporal 24 D Company, 307 Infantry Yes Slightly 14/09/18
Regan, Timothy Cork Recruit 28 31 Company, 8 Battalion, 152 Depot Brigade No
Regan, Daniel Cork Private First Class 26 A Battery, 78 Field Artillery Yes
Regan, Patrick Cork Sergeant 23 G Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Severely 28/07/18
Reilly, Cornelius Cork Private First Class 32 B Battery, 12 Field Artillery Yes
Ring, John M Cork Mechanic 25 K Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Severely 02/08/18
Ring, William J Cork Private First Class 25 K Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Yes 28/07/18 Slightly 14/03/18
Riordan, Francis Cork Gunnery Sergeant 46 USMC, Barrack Det Navy Yard, DC. No
Roche, John Dripsey Private 27 Aux Reg Dep 306 Quartermaster Corps No
Rogers, Joseph Cork Mess Sergeant 28 B Company, Gr # 2 MTD Machine Gun Training Center Camp Hancock, GA No
Ronan, John J Cork Corporal 25 L Company, 23 Infantry Yes
Ronan, Michael A Buttevant Private 19 Student Army Training Center, St Johns College, Brooklyn, NY. No
Ryan, Dennis J Cork Sergeant 22 25 Battalion, Co Aviation Center Camp Morrison VA, No
Ryan, Donald David Cork Private 19 A Battery, 106 Field Artillery Yes
Scannell, John J Farran? Corporal 29 Service Company, 60 Infantry Yes
Scannell, William Cork Private First Class 22 B Company, 35 Machine Gun Battalion No
Sexton, Richard Cork Wagoner 30 Support Company, 38 Infantry Yes
Shannon, Thomas F Bantry Private First Class 30 77 Company, Military Police Yes
Shea, John Queenstown Ensign 53 Never Mobilised N/A
Shea, Peter J Bantry Private First Class 28 H Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Severely 29/07/18
Shea, Patrick Adrigole Private 26 Machine Gun Company, 305 Infantry Yes Yes 01/11/18
Shea, John Cork Private 25 L Company, 106 Infantry Yes
Sheedy, David Cork Captain 42 59 Infantry Yes
Sheedy, Frank J Cork Cook 30 E Battery, 57 Coast Artillery Corps Yes
Sheehan, Joseph P Cork Private 29 3 A A Machine Gun Battalion, Yes
Sheehan, Timothy Cork Private 26 D Battery, 305 Field Artillery Yes
Sheehan, James P Cork Private 23 Rep Unit 320 Motor Transport Corps Yes
Sheehan, Jeremiah Cork Private 23 E Battery, 335 Field Artillery, Yes
Sheehan, Jerry Cork Private 23 M Company, 16 Infantry Yes Slightly 19/07/18
Sheehan, Thomas J Cork Private 24 Veterinary Hospital 13 Yes
Sheehan, Timothy Cork Private First Class 24 D Company, 304 Machine Gun Battalion Yes
Sheehan, John Cork Corporal 21 E Company, 305 Infantry Yes Slightly 27/09/18
Shinnick, William Cork Private 29 A Company, 106 Infantry Yes Severely 27/08/18
Smith, Edward James Queenstown Private First Class 28 317 Company, Tank Corps, Yes
Smith, Harry Cork Private 18 17 Company, 9 Coast Artillery Corps, NYNG No
Spillane, Michael Cork Sergeant 44 Mtd Service School Det, Fort Riley, Kans No
Spillane, John J Cork Sergeant 27 MG Company, 69 Infantry NYNG(165 Infantry), Yes Slightly 14/10/18
Stack, Richard Theodore Fermoy Sergeant 30 K Company, 305 Infantry, Yes Slightly 08/11/18
Stephens, Nassau Somerville Queenstown Captain 50 Quartermasters Corps, No
Sullivan, Bartholomew Alphonse Adrigole Sergeant 43 USMC, Cas Det ? Yes
Sullivan, Cornelius Adrigole Wagoner 31 Support Company, 309 Field Artillery Yes
Sullivan, Daniel Francis Cork Private 30 152 Depot Brigade No
Sullivan, Jeremiah Cork Lietenant (J.G.) 28 Mine Sweeping Division, Tompkinsville S.I., NY N/A
Sullivan, Patrick Tracashel Private 30 Quartermasters Corps at large Yes
Sullivan, Benjamin Cork Private 28 B Company, 306 Infantry Yes Degree undetermined 12/10/18
Sullivan, Jeremiah Cork Private First Class 28 B Company, 306 Infantry Yes Severely 27/09/18
Sullivan, John Skibbereen Private 28 C Company, 308 Infantry Yes Yes 24/06/18
Sullivan, Patrick J Charleville Private 29 C Company, 308 Infantry Yes Yes 24/06/18
Sullivan, Patrick Cork Sergeant 26 45 Battery 5 AA Sect Yes
Sullivan, William O Cork Sergeant 28 HQ Company, 19 Infantry No
Sullivan, Daniel J Newmarket Private 25 4 Company 152 Depot Brigade Yes
Sullivan, Patrick Cork Private 25 C Company, 308 Infantry Yes Yes 01/10/18
Sullivan, Daniel Joseph Bantry Corporal 25 C Company, 114 Infantry Yes
Sullivan, Michael J Cork Private 24 G Company, 52 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Sullivan, Cornelius Cork Private First Class 22 F Company, 2 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Sullivan, Michael F Cork Corporal 22 234 Company, Military Police, Yes
Swanton, Richard P Queenstown Private 30 MD Base Hospital 123 Yes
Sweeney, Mortimer Millstreet? Sergeant 27 Base Hospital 113, Yes
Sweetman, James Ballydehob Private 27 K Company, 348 Infantry Yes
Sweetman, George Cork Corporal 25 C Company, 306 Field Signal Battalion, Yes
Tarrant, George Cork Private First Class 26 D Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) No
Tobin, Robert Richard Cork Private 28 HQ Company, Cas Det Camp Wordsworth, SC. No
Twomey, Jeremiah Lacka Co. Cork Private First Class 25 C Company, 26 Infantry Yes Slightly 07/10/18
Wade, Cornelius Ballymore Private First Class 28 HQ Company, 326 Infantry Yes
Walsh, David Cork Private First Class 33 D Company, 69 Infantry NYNG (165 Infantry) Yes Slightly 19/07/18
Walsh, John Cork Private 26 B Company, 320 Infantry Yes Degree undetermined 01/11/18
Walsh, John J Cloyne Private 24 B Company, 130 Engineers Yes
Warner, Robert Cork Private First Class 23 I Company, 3 Prov Regiment No
Waters, Grames P Cork Private First Class 28 HQ Company, 22 Infantry No
Watson, George H Cork Cook 27 M Company, 52 Pioneer Infantry Yes
Whalen, John Cork Mechanic 28 I Company, 69 Infantry NYNG No
Wood, Rebecca Mary Cork Nurse 40 Debark H 3 Greenhut Building, NY No
Wood, Joseph F Cork Sergeant 37 C Company, 10 Infantry NYNG (51 Pioneer Infantry) Yes
Men of the 77th Division pause during the advance, September 1918

Men of the 77th Division pause during the advance, September 1918 (History of the Seventy Seventh Division)

References & Acknowledgements

*This database was compiled by Paul Higgins under the direction of Damian Shiels for the Midleton Archaeology & Heritage Project. Paul’s dedication to uncovering these men and women’s stories and his efforts at locating additional detail on their service added greatly to the project. Thanks are also due to Pat Sullivan, a Cork New Yorker whose own family served in the 77th Division, for drawing my attention to the fantastic cartoon depicting the reaction of Irish troops in the division to sighting the coast of Ireland while on their way to Europe. 

New York State Archives. New York State Abstracts of World War I Military Service, 1917–1919.

77th Division Association 1919. History of the Seventy Seventh Division August 25th 1917–November 11th 1918. 

Duffy, Francis P. 1919. Father Duffy’s Story: A Tale of Humor and Heroism, of Life and Death with the Fighting Sixty-Ninth. 

Hussey, Alexander & Flynn, Raymond. 1919. The History of Company E, 308th Infantry (1917-1919).

Tiebout, Frank B. 1919. A History of the 305th Infantry. 

Categories: World War One | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Children’s Christmas in Midleton Workhouse

Through the second half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century Christmas brought with it an expectation of charitable aid to the poor around the town, manifested through initiatives like the Christmas Coal Fund, which aimed to help those less fortunate in meeting the added burden of heating their homes during Winter. The unfortunate inmates of Midleton Workhouse (now Midleton Hospital) were another group who benefited from Yuletide initiatives, offering an all too brief respite from the desperate conditions in which they found themselves. During the late 19th century, one of the biggest Christmas events in the town was the annual event held for the Workhouse children, when presents and entertainments (such as music, magic lantern shows and even hypnotists) were laid on by the town’s more fortunate inhabitants.

Midleton Workhouse, now Midleton Hospital (

Midleton Workhouse, now Midleton Hospital (

One of the earliest references to Christmas in Midleton Workhouse appears in the Leinster Express of 25th December 1852. At the conclusion of the Famine, the paper noted that the poor in Waterford Workhouse were being given 1lb of beef each for dinner on Christmas Day, while at Midleton “the paupers have been treated to reduced rations.” Later Christmases did bring some respite, as noted by the Cork Examiner on 20th December 1875. By that date the tradition of giving gifts to the Workhouse children each year had been established. On 23rd December 1875 some of the most notable people of the locality– including Mrs. T.S. Coppinger, Mrs. Ashlin, Mrs. S. Coppinger, Miss. Fitzgerald, Miss Power, Rev. D. Lynch and the Rev. PJ Horgan– arrived to distirbute the gifts. They were handed out in the girls’ school room, which was decorated for the occasion with laurels and “appropriate mottoes” including a “Caed-mille-failthe” display made from ivy leaves intertwined with shamrocks. One of the boys in the Workhouse read out an address, which thanked Mrs. Coppinger and the Board of Guardians for their interest in the children’s welfare. Father Lynch responded to express his:

“satisfaction…at the good order and regularity which they saw exhibited by the children; exhorted them to be always kind and forebearing to each other; obedient and respectful to their superiors, and by doing so, to merit a renewal of the favours shown to them by Mrs. Coppinger and the other kind ladies who had come forward so generously to contribute to their happiness at this holy season.”


Children at Crumpsall Workhouse in England, c. 1895. The Midleton children likely presented a similar appearance (Manchester Archives)

In line with Victorian concepts of the deserving poor, Father Lynch also exhorted the children to:

“pay the greatest attention to their school studies and the other duties appertaining to their station in life, reminding them that they were in possession of advantages denied to a great many poor children in the world. By doing so they would make themselves respectable and useful members of society…”.

Following the speeches Mrs. Coppinger distributed the gifts, which included sweetmeats and toys, while the children also sang a number of songs. The newspaper noted that:

“The joy shown on the faces of the little ones as each new and wonderful toy was presented, created the greatest amusement to the visitors, who, when departing, declared themselves highly gratified with the day’s proceedings, which wound up with a three times three for the ladies.”

Victorian Christmas Tree

A Victorian-era Christmas Tree. The gifts for the Midleton Workhouse children were placed on the tree and a draw was held to see who received what. There were usually different gifts for girls and boys, and in addition sweets and exotic fruits were often also to be found on the tree (Harper’s Bazaar)

Christmas entertainments for the poor children remained a common theme at the Workhouse, and Mrs. T.S. Coppinger maintained a long association with it. More than a decade later, the 24th December 1887 edition of the Cork Examiner recorded that she had brought the children tea, sweets, sweetcakes, toys and books, and noted that she:

“has never forgotten to visit the Midleton Workhouse at this festive season of Christmas, and her efforts to afford the juvenile inmates of the Midleton Workhouse a happy Christmas will bring to herself many happy returns of the coming New Year.”

The tradition of giving to the children was still alive in the 1890s. On 11th January 1896 the Cork Examiner reported that the poor children of the Workhouse had been given their Christmas treat “through the generosity of the kind-hearted people of the town,” and a Christmas tree laden with “dainties and nick-nacks” was also provided for them. The children were allocated their gift from the tree via a draw (among the exotics that adorned it were fruits, such as oranges).

Christmas also saw the annual erection of a crib in the Workhouse Chapel. There was often additional charity for the older inmates of the Workhouse as well. In 1897 all the Workhouse residents were able to enjoy an evening of vocal and musical entertainment, together with a magic lantern show of continental scenes put on by P. Hallinan of Avoncore. The room in the Workhouse where the show was held was festively decorated, and during intervals songs and piano forte solos were given by local amateur musicians. A similar gift-giving exercise for the children in 1897 also included the distribution of tobacco and snuff to the aged and infirm inmates, though bad weather that year meant that the “kind ladies and gentlemen of the town, who annually patronise the workhouse entertainments were precluded from attending on this occasion” (Cork Examiner 9th January 1897, 11th January 1898).


In 1897 P. Hallinan of Avoncore put on a magic lantern show at the Workhouse. This was an extremely popular form of entertainment in the late 19th century. This image shows a magic lantern show in the United States in 1897, where an image of St. Peter’s Basilica is being shown to the audience (T.H. McAllister Company)

The Christmas Fete at Midleton Workhouse continued into the 20th century. One wonders what became of many of these children who, at least for one day, found themselves a focus of attention. To give readers a flavour of how the event was reported, below is a full transcript of the article on the proceedings from the Cork Examiner of 9th January 1901:


The annual fete and entertainment for the enjoyment of the children at the Midleton Workhouse came off in the schoolroom of that institution on Sunday last, in the presence of a large number of the townspeople. The general attendance also included- the Very Rev Canon Hutch, PP, DD, VF, Midleton; Rev CS O’Connor, CC, do, and the Nuns of the Workhouse. The room was tastefully decorated with evergreens and suitable mottoes, and in the centre was a large Christmas Tree heavily laden with a fine selection of toys and other gifts for the children, kindly provided through the generosity of the townspeople. When the proceedings began at two o’clock the whole surroundings presented a very pleasing aspect, and one could not fail being struck by the bright and happy faces of the little ones as they filed into their allotted seats under the care of their teachers, Mr and Mrs O’Sullivan, their school-teachers. A beautiful supply of cake, tea, and fruit was distributed amongst them by the good nuns, and whilst engaged in the agreeable occupation of doing justice for the good things provided, the entertainment of vocal and instrumental music was proceeded with. The first item was a song with chorus, “The Holy City,” by Mr W Ronayne, who was heard with much pleasure, and being loudly encored he sang with much feeling and expressions, “The Tempest of the Heart.” Mr D O’Sullivan, a Cork baritone of great promise, sang tastefully, “Savourneen Deelish,” his rich deep voice and fine intonation being highly appreciated. Mr John Bastible acquitted himself well in the rendering of “Queen of the Earth,” and was followed, by Mr William Cashman, whose fine tenor voice was heard in the singing of “When other Lips,” for which he was deservedly encored. The selections from “Les Cloches de Cornville” played on the violin by Miss Fitzgerald, with piano accompaniment by Mr C Byrne, was admirably performed, the uniqueness of touch and execution displayed by this youthful performer being much appreciated. The principal feature of the entertainment was the hypnotic exhibition given by Mr P C Leahy, Midleton, which was simply marvellous, the audience being amazed at the many strange feats in the hypnotic trance. This concluded the entertainment, after which the different prizes on the Christmas Tree were drawn for and distributed by the nuns. The Rev Canon Hutch then addressed a few felicitous remarks to the children, congratulating them on the success of the entertainment, and on their behalf he thanked the Nuns, the Master (Mr Daly) Mr and Mrs O’Sullivan, and also the various gentlemen who contributed to the entertainment. Three hearty cheers were then given by the youthful audiences for all the visitors who had so kindly attended, and did so much brighten and relieve the monotony of their Workhouse lives, and lusty cheers were also given for the esteemed Pastor, the Nuns, and the Master, Mr Daly, to whom much credit is due.

Hypnotism Show

Hypnotism Shows were popular forms of entertainment at the turn of the 20th century. PC Leahy of Midleton put on such a show at Midleton Workhouse in 1901 (Extravagance of Hypnotism).

Further Reading Midleton Workhouse

Categories: Nineteenth Century | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at