The unveiling of The Great War Remembrance Monument in the Green Park, Ballina, took place on Saturday, June 20th, 2015.
The monument was unveiled by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD before a large and representative gathering of local people, including public representatives, clergymen, relatives of some of those soldiers whose names are inscribed on the memorial, and representatives of the French and German embassies.
The ceremony got underway with the Ballina Brass Band Ensemble playing a Tribute to the Taoiseach on his arrival. Mr. Kenny was accompanied by his Aide de Camp, Commandant Kieran Carey; Peter Hynes, Mayo Chief Executive; PJ Clarke, Chairman of the Ballina Comrades of the Great War Committee, and Army Colour Piper, Sean Lavin.
Commemoration Day prayers were recited by Fr. Michael Harrison PP, Ballycastle (a nephew of Lance/Sergt., John Harison who died on the 1.4.1918). The second reader was Rev. Stephen McWhirter, St. Michael’s Church of Ireland, Ardnaree, Ballina.
The speakers included Cllr. Damian Ryan, Cathaoirleach Mayo County Council; Cllr. Gerry Ginty, Cathaoirleach Ballina Municipal District; PJ Clarke, Chairman Ballina Comrades of Great War (1914-1919) andPeter Hynes, Mayo County Council CEO.
There were readings by Johnny O’Malley and Carmel Hughes, prime-movers behind the project.
Mr. Clarke spoke eloquently about the lives of many of the soldiers from Ballina who died in World War 1 and, in particular, mentioned those families who had lost more than one son in the conflict such as the Hamilton family from Castle Road, Ballina, whose three sons died in the war.
As a native of Castle Road, this writer found that story particularly poignant and it brought back memories of newspaper stories I had written as a young reporter in the 1970s about the few remaining Ballina survivors of World War 1.
In his address, the Taoiseach, Mr Kenny drew comparisons between the loss of life in the Great War and the continuing conflicts that afflict the world today, most notably the Syrian civil war which has forced of thousands of displaced people to seek refugee in Europe by making perilous crossings of the Mediterranean sea in overcrowded boats.
Mr Kenny recalled how thousands of Irish emigrants made similar journeys after the Great Famine of the 1840s in coffin ships and, he underlined that this shared history of seeking refuge from hunger and war in foreign lands, had helped the Irish nation empathize with the current day refugees.
It was in this historical context that we, as a nation, were proud that the naval vessel, the LE Eithne, was based in the Mediterranean to help rescue these desperate men, women, children, and infants, fleeing from the Middle East and North Africa, Mr. Kenny said.
Following the formal unveiling by Mr. Kenny, the Great War Remembrance Monument was blessed by Fr. Michael Harrison, Rev. Molloy Reathage, Presbyterian Minister Walsh Street Presbyterian Church, Ballina, and Rev. Stephen McWhirter, St. Michael’s Church, Ardnaree.
Wreaths were laid at the foot of the monument by An Taoiseach, Isabelle Cohen, French Embassy, Cecile Dejardain, Athis Mons, and PJ Clarke.
Following a minute’s silence for the fallen, the piper, Sean Lavin played ‘A Lament for the Dead’.
The last post with dipping flags was played by Ballina Brass Band musicians, Jackie Graham, Liam Hughes and Eamon Mangan.
The ceremony concluded with the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann.
The MC for the Ballina commemoration day ceremony was Paul Benson, Director of Services Mayo County Council, Ballina.
Remembrance Sunday, 8th November, in Ballina
The Ballina Comrades of The Great War 1914-1919, held a wreath-laying ceremony to mark Remembrance Sunday at the Monument in the Green Park, on Sunday, November 8th.
The story behind the erection of the Ballina Great War Memorial is a remarkable and personal crusade by Ballina native and well-known historian, PJ Clarke.
The 182 men from Ballina and surrounding areas who died in World War 1 are inscribed on the war memorial at Green Park, opposite the entrance to Leigue cemetery, Killala Road, Ballina.
The marble monument, an obelisk, is a simple structure, but a lasting and fitting tribute to those brave men from different backgrounds who fought with the British Army in the First World War.
Ballina historian, PJ Clarke, was the prime mover and researcher behind the erection of the memorial, channelling his life-long interest in local history into a quiet campaign to ensure those who died on the battlefields of France and Belgium were not forgotten.
Along the way, he enlisted the help of other local historians, including Noel Gillard, Michael Moyles, Carmel Hughes, Dermot Hopkins, Paddy Gorman, Jim Henry, Jacqui Gilmartin and Paddy Tuffy, to help with fundraising, under the banner “Comrades of the Great War Ballina”.
Local politicians were called upon, including Johnny O’Malley and John O’Hara, to win the support of Mayo County Council who provided additional funding and a suitable place to erect the monument.
The memorial was designed by the Ballina-based Mayo County Council architect, Kevin Keegan, and the contract for its purchase, inscriptions, and erection, was undertaken by Ginty Headstones, Monumental Sculptors, Ballina.
PJ Clarke describes the memorial: “The names of the fallen are painted white to augment the colour of the granite stone and fit comfortably on the four sides.
“And instead of just putting Ballina beside each name, I researched each of the men’s home address, which makes the Ballina First World War Memorial unique in its own way.”
The first man to die in World War 1
There is an interesting story behind each of the 182 names inscribed on the monument.
For instance, both the first and last Irishman to die in World War 1 hailed from the Ballina area, according to Mr. Clarke.
Mr. Clarke explains: “The first Irishman to die in the First World War was Stephen Kennedy, 10691, 2nd Battalion Connaught Rangers. He was the son of John and Bridget Kennedy, Ardoughan, Ballina, aged 35, and tragically one of three brothers who fought and fell in the Great War.
“By dying of wounds in Athis Mons Hospital, France, he became the first Connaught Ranger, Ballina man, Mayo man and Irishman to die. His death is officially recorded on his headstone in Athis Mons Communal Cemetery; The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and especially on his Enlistment Service Papers.
“Two of his other brothers also fell – John, No. 3811, 6th Battn. Connaught Rangers, aged 32, was killed in action on 21/3/1918, and William, No. 10164, 1st Battn. Connaught Rangers was killed in action on 21/1/1916.
“William was the recipient of the Distinguished Conduct Medal. It seems that the time around the 20th of the month was not a good time for this family (see dates). Another brother, Thomas, also fought, but returned home safely, and lived in Knockleagh.
Last Ballina soldier to die
“The last Ballina soldier to die in the timeline of the war was Captain William Walsh, M.R.C.V.S., son of Francis and Kate Walsh, Lower Bridge Street, Ballina, who contracted influenza on his way home on furlough from the Frontline and died of pneumonia in his parents’ home on 27th February 1919.
He was aged 26 and is buried in the Old Abbey, in the Cathedral Grounds, Ballina. (you can see his monument with the Celtic Cross just inside the railings).
The epigraphs at the foot of the monument are in Irish and English:
All that we had we gave
All that was ours to give
Freely surrendered All
That you in peace might live
Erected by the people of Ballina in honour and memory of those from the area who lost their lives in World War One
Let those who come after see to it that their names are not forgotten
The names of the soldiers from Ballina engraved on Ballina Great War 1914-1919 Monument are as follows:
Pte. John Anderson, Hill Street, Ballina
2nd Lieut. Mervyn K. Anderson, Ballina
Pte. Anthony Barrett, Ardnaree
Pte. John Barrett, Ardnaree
Pte. Patrick Barrett, Attymass
Pte. James Beavens, Knockmore
Pte. John Beckett, Bohernasop
Pte. Eugene Beirne, Garden Street
Pte. John Beirne, Garden Street
Pte. James Boland, Castleconnor
Pte. Henry Broderick, Hill Street
Gdsn. Michael Browne, Castleconnor
Pte. Patrick Cabry, The Brook, Ardnaree
L./Cpl. Patrick Caffrey/Cafferty, Hill Street
Gdsn. John Canavan, Workhouse Row
Pte. Peter Carr, Ardagh
Pte. John James Carroll, Bohernasup
Pte. William Carroll, Knockmore
Pte. Martin Casey, Ardnaree
Pte. Martin Cawley, Brook Street
Pte. John Clarke, Downhill Road
Pte. William Clarke, Corballa
Pte. Patrick Connelly, Corballa
Pte. Martin Connor, Workhouse Row
Pte. Patrick Connor, Workhouse Row
Pte. Michael Convey, Shambles Street
Pte. Michael Coppinger, Arran Street
Pte. James Corcoran, Ardnaree
Pte. Thomas Costello, Garden Street
Sgt. Patrick Craughwell, Garden Street
Lieut. John A. Cowell, Knox Street
Lieut. Charles Odell Creed, Knox Street
2nd. Lieut. Cecil A. Crowe, Ulster Bank
Pte. Patrick Cullen, Kilmoremoy
L./Cpl. Michael Deacy, Coolcronan
L./Cpl. Martin J. Dempsey, Abbey Street
S.S. Patrick Devlin, St. Patrick’s Terrace.
Pte. Anthony Doherty, Shanaghy
Pte. Patrick Doherty, Garden Street
Gdsn. William J. Doherty, Ballina
Pte. Michael Dolan, Ardnaree
L./Cpl. Edward Donnelly, Piper Hill
Pte. John Duffy, Knockmore
Pte. John J. Duffy, Rathbane, Knockmore
Pte. Martin J. Duffy, Ballina
Gdsn. Joseph Duggan, Hill Street
Pte. Patrick Ferguson, Hill Street
Pte. James Fitzgerald, Ballina
Pte. Robert M. Fitzgerald, Knox Street
Cpl. John Fleming, Ardnaree
Pte. Michael Fleming, Ardnaree
Pte. Albert Flynn, St. Muredach’s Tce.
Pte. Henry Forde, Ardnaree
L./Cpl. John Forde, Ardnaree
Pte. Michael Fury/Furey, Pawn Office Lane
2nd Cpl. John Gallagher, Bohernasop
Fireman Patrick Gallagher, Knockanillaun
Capt. Ivan Harold Garvey, M.C., Downhill
Pte. Patrick Gilboy, Bonnifinglas
Pte. Edward Grehan, Garden Street
Pte. Joseph Grehan, Garden Street
L./Cpl. John Guinan, Garden Street
2nd. Lieut. Cecil C. Hamilton, Castle Road
2nd Lieut. H. M. Hamilton, Castle Road
Lieut. William Hamilton, Castle Road
Lc.Cpl. John Hanley, Knockmore
Seaman John Harris, St. Muredach’s Tce.
L. Cpl. John Harrison, Church Road
Pte. Martin Harte, Ardnaree
Pte. Patrick Hegarty, Kilmoremoy
Gdsn. John Higgins, Ballina
Pte. Michael Higgins, Ballina
Pte. Martin Hopkins, Kilmoremoy
Pte. Patrick Hopkins, Ballina
L./Cpl. John Jamieson, Kilglass
Lieut. Gerald V. Woolcott-Joynt, Australia
Pte. Patrick Joyce, Kilmoremoy
Pte. Christopher Kelly, Ardnaree
Pte. Michael Kelly, Ardnaree
Pte. Michael Kelly, Ardnaree
Pte. Patrick W. Kelly, Cloghans
Pte. John Kennedy, Ardoughan
Pte. Stephen Kennedy, Ardoughan
Pte. William Kennedy, D.C.M., Ardoughan
Pte. James Kilgallon, Brook Street
Gdsn. Thomas Kilgallon, Breaffy
Gnr. John Knox, Ballina
Pte. Patrick Lackey, Hill Street
2nd. Lieut. St. Clair N. Laing, Knox St.
Pte. Frances Lavin, Ardoughan
Pte. Martin Lavin, Ardoughan
Pte. John J. Leighton, Church Road
Cpl. Francis Leonard, Knox Street
Cpl. Charles Lewis, Church Road
P.O. Stoker John Loughney, The Quay
Pte. Edward Lyons, Shamble Street
Cpl. John Lyons, Shamble Street
Pte. Michael Magee, Castle Road
Cpt. P. A. C. Maginn, Bank of Ireland
Gnr. Christopher Maloney, Ardnaree
Pte. William Maloney, Ardnaree
Pte. Samuel Marley, Kilmoremoy
Pte. Peter McAndrew, Knockmore
Pte. Phillip McAndrew, Ballina
Cpl. Thomas McAuley, Cloonkee
Pte./Sig. Michael McDonnell, Ballina
Pte. Anthony McGuigan, Hill Street
Pte. Anthony McHale, Tavanaghmore
Pte. James McHale, Lisaniska, Knockmore
Pte. Michael McHale, Hill Street
Pte. Michael McHale, Knockmore
Pte. Michael McHale, Workhouse Row
Q.M. Sgt. Thomas McHale, Kilmoremoy
Pte. James McKenna, Shambles Street
Pte. Martin McKenzie, Ballina
Pte. Thomas McLoughlin, Hill Street
Pte. John McManus, The Brook, Ardnaree
Pte. James McNulty, The Quay
Pte. Michael McNulty, Brook Street
Pte. Denis Millar, Station Road
Cpl. Patrick Mitchell, Brook Street
Sgt. James Henry Munnelly, Ardagh
2nd Lieut. John Ross Moore, Ulster Bank
Cpl. James Moyles, Shambles Street
Pte. Thomas Mulderrig, Ardagh
Seaman James Mulhern, Attymass East
Pte. Thomas Mullen, Ballina
Pte. Martin Munnally, Ardnaree
Pte. John Murphy, Garden Street
Pte. Christopher Murray, Ardnaree
Pte. D. W. Murray/McDonnell, Ballina
Pte. Martin Murray, Bohernasop
Pte. Thomas Murty, Ballina
Pte. Anthony Nealon, Downhill Road,
Pte. Andrew Neary, Attymass
Pte. William J. Neary, Ballina
Pte. Joseph O’Boyle, Kilmoremoy
Pioneer William O’Brien, Kilmoremoy
Pte. Frederick O’Donnell, Brook Street
Pte. Henry O’Hara, Knockmore
Pte. Edward O’Hara, Hill Street
L./Sgt. Patrick J. O’Malley, Ballina
Seaman John Patterson, Knockanillaun
Pte. Martin Quigley, Gallagher’s Lane
L./Cpl. John Rafter, Kilmoremoy
Sgt. Michael J. Rafter, Ardnaree
Pte. Anthony Reddington, Coolcronan
L/Cpl. Michael Reddington, Tullysleva
Pte. Thomas Regan, Kilmoremoy
Pte. William Reid, Ballina Gas Co.
L./Sgt. J. M. Rooney, D.C.M., M.M., Up. Garden St.
L./Cpl. William Rochford, Knockmore
Pte. William J. Rouse, Corimbla
Pte. Joseph Rhine/Ryan, Ballina
Pte. William Ryder, Hill Street
Pte. William Scott, Kilmoremoy
Capt. John J. Shannon, Cloona
Pte. Michael Shea, Slievenagark, Ardagh
Capt. William A. Smiles, MacHale’s Office
Pte. Francis Stokes, Garden Street
Pte. Robert Stokes Garden Street
Pte. Owen Sweeney, Workhouse Row
L./Cpl. James Tighe, The Quay
Pte. Anthony Tolan, Knockleagh
Pte. Michael Wallace, Coolcronan
Pte. John Walsh, Rathduff
Pte. Michael Walsh, Brook Street
Gdsn. Thomas Walsh, Culleens
Pte. Thomas Walsh, Ballina
Capt. William Walsh, Bridge Street
Pte. William Ward, Ardnaree
Lieut./Col. Arthur L. Wilford, D.S.O., Ballina
Rifleman Baskerville W. Wills, King St.
Pte. Henry C. Wills, King Street
French Re-Enactors and North Mayo Pikemen tribute
The French Re-Enactors and North Mayo Pikemen paid a visit to the Great War Monument in Ballina on St. Patrick’s Day.
The historical re-enactors had earlier attended parades in Ballycastle and Killala before coming to Great War Monument for the ceremony that was attended by a large and representative gathering from Ballina and surrounding districts.
The ceremony was also attended by Ms. Cecile Dejardain, Athis Mons, France, who laid a wreath to the memory of those 182 men from Ballina and surrounding areas who fell in battle, especially though to the memory of Pte. Stephen Kennedy, Connaught Rangers, who died from wounds in Athis Mons Hospital and is buried in Cecile’s hometown, which, incidentally, is a twin town of Ballina.
PJ Clarke, Chairman of Ballina Comrades of the Great War, read The Exhortation to The Fallen which was translated into French by Ms. Dejardain.
Afterwards, the Re-Enactors fired a volley in remembrance and John Brown, Ballina Brass Band, played the Last Post. The Re-Enactors and Pikemen then left to join the Ballina St. Patrick’s Day parade where they proved to be very popular with the huge crowd who attended.
Minister Ring and Deputy Mulherin visit War Memorial
Michael Ring TD, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, and Michelle Mulherin TD paid a visit to the Ballina First World War Memorial on Friday, May 1st, at the invitation of PJ Clarke, Comrades of the Great War Ballina. They were accompanied by Mayo County Councillors, Seamus Weir (Independent) and John O’Hara (Fine Gael).
Minister Ring said he was greatly impressed with the monument and Deputy Mulherin pointed out to him the name of one of her relatives inscribed on the monument – Deck Hand James Mulhern, HMS “Victory”, Royal Naval Reserve, who died at sea on 21/10/1918, aged 34.