Ballinrobe and the Great War

Photo:The death penny/plaque was awarded to the widows of soldiers who died during the First World War.

The death penny/plaque was awarded to the widows of soldiers who died during the First World War.

Donor

Men killed in action

By Gerry Delaney

Ballinrobe, which had two barracks in the 19th century, had a long association with the British Army.  Through the generations many local girls had married soldiers and many of the town's young men had enlisted and had successful careers in the army.

From August to November 1914 over a million men from throughout the British Isles voluntarily enlisted in the British Army.  The promise of Home Rule for Ireland when the war was over, in return for the support of the Irish Volunteers, helped rally young Irishmen to the colours. The recruitment campaign was particularly successful in Ballinrobe. The Freeman's Journal issue of 18 November 1914 noted:

"There is not a town of its size or population in the province of Connaught has contributed more men to the war than Ballinrobe.  In addition to army reservists, there have volunteered twenty-five young men who are now in training for active service. These men, at least twenty of them, were members of the local corps of Irish Volunteers, and the example they have set is attracting further men to the colours."
 
Recruitment of volunteers continued through the winter months through a series of meetings.  On 17th February 1915 the same newspaper reported:

"Major Balfe, who is at present engaging in addressing meetings in the West of Ireland, was accorded an enthusiastic welcome at the Town Hall, Ballinrobe, on Sunday, and at the close of the meeting twenty-seven names were taken for the Irish Brigade."
 
By March 1915, one hundred and thirty Ballinrobe men had enlisted in the army and three had even joined the navy bringing the volume of recruits from South Mayo to over four hundred. Men were still volunteering at about forty per month the following November.

The volunteers of 1914 and 1915 had expected that the war would be short-lived.  As the horrors of the war became known, and with republican sentiment in Mayo intensifying, recruitment declined. In mid-April 1918 a great meeting was held at Ballinrobe presided over by Canon D'Alton, who declared that

"...no bastard Home Rule would be taken in exchange for the blood of the people."
 
The following Ballinrobe men perished in the 'war to end all wars' listed with:  Date of Death - Name - Regiment - death.


14 September 1914 - James Goulding, Connaught Rangers, killed in action.

14 September 1914 - Richard Biggins, Irish Guards, killed in action.

7 November 1914 - Michael Cullinane, Connaught Rangers, killed in action.

13 November 1914 - Thomas Collins, Connaught Rangers, died.

10 March 1915 - John Welsh, Liverpool Regiment, killed in action.

20 May 1915 - Hubert Daly, Liverpool Regiment, died of wounds.

21 August 1915 - Patrick McHugh, Connaught Rangers, killed in action in Gallipoli.

30 September 1915 - William Harrold, Irish Guards, killed in action.

5 November 1915 - John Cunningham, Irish Guards, killed in action.

20 February 1916 - John Cassidy, Royal Irish Regiment, died at home.

7 July 1916 - Patrick Duffy, Royal Irish Fusiliers, died.

Friday July 1916 - Holleran, Michael, Ballinrobe, Private no 12218 Mil. Unit King's Liverpool Regiment 13th Battalion

14 September 1916 - Edward William Burke, Royal Flying Corp, killed in aerial combat.

18 September 1916 - William Burke, Connaught Rangers, , died at Salonika.

23 October 1916 - Thomas May, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, died in Cork.

17 December 1916 - Charles Graham, Royal Lancaster Regiment, killed in action in Basra, Iraq.

10 April 1917 - Michael Halloran, Royal Irish Fusiliers, killed in action.

11 April 1917 - George Cathcart, Royal Irish Fusiliers, killed in action.

11 August 1917 - Thomas Mullaney, Royal Munster Fusiliers, died of wounds.

17 August 1917 - Theodore Brady, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, died.

22 November 1917 - Thomas Killeen, Royal Horse Artillery, died.

21 May 1918 - Mark Fox, Connaught Rangers, killed in action.

23 March 1918 - William Feerick, Connaught Rangers, killed in action.

3 August 1918 - William Horan, Leinster Regiment, killed in action.

5 September 1918 - William Conway, Canadian Infantry, died.

8 October 1918 - John Maughan, Connaught Rangers, killed in action.

Further information on the Penny/Plaque:

Each penny was individually cast and marked with the soldier`s name.   The penny/plaque depicts Britannia standing facing right with a large lion standing in front of her.   Below this representing Britain, is another lion tearing an eagle to pieces, which represents Germany.  The two dolphins symbolise sea power.   Around the edge of the plaque are the words 'He died for Freedom and Honour'.   Its actual size is similar to a DVD disc.

This page was added by Averil Staunton on 20/05/2011.
Comments about this page

My Great Grandad, Thomas Lydon, died as a result of mustard gas poisoning in Ypres (serving with the Durham Light infantry) at his home in Hebburn upon Tyne in December 1915.

He lived in Ballinrobe, 9 Abbey Street in 1901 with his family.

By howard lydon
On 18/05/2014

Hi Averil, 

Checking the : http://imr.inflandersfields.be/index.html website, I came across another Ballinrobe native that is not on your list who died in the Great War.

HOLLERAN, MICHAEL Place of birth: BALLINROBE, IRELAND Rank: PRIVATE Service No.:12218 Mil. Unit: KING'S LIVERPOOL REGIMENT, 13TH BATT. Date of death: Fri Jul 14 1916

Reply: Thank you Tom, Your support is appreciate and thank you for this very helpful information. 

I have added his name to the list

Averil

By Tom Guckian
On 20/03/2014

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