WWI: Capt Eugene John McSwiney (1890-1916)

eugene-john-mcswiney-02Fresh out of UCD medical school in 1915 where he qualified in surgery and midwifery, Eugene John McSwiney like most in the medical school before him at the time joined the British Army, presumably to get experience for his new qualification.

The Royal Army Medical Corps was probably considered one of the safer jobs in the army as you weren’t being bombarded, but a little over a year later on St.Steven’s Day 1916 (100 years ago today) the doctor from Rathroe House Eugene John had passed away from pneumonia at the Naval Barracks in Devonport (Plymouth), England, after which his body was returned to Ireland and buried in Millstreet Church Graveyard, one of only two from WWI to be buried there.

Born in Johnstown House, Kilmichael on December 7th 1890, an only child to Margaret McCarthy (of Dromagh) and Dr. Morgan McSwiney. Morgan was the local doctor and Justice of the Peace, but he died young of gallstones in 1906, and a few years later in the 1911 census, Margaret and Eugene John had moved and were living with Margaret’s Brother Michael and family in Ardnageeha Dispensary, near Cullen. Soon after that they moved to Rathroe House, Derrinagree with Margaret’s other brothers where Margaret lived until she passed away in 1936.

Eugene John entered Queens College Cork medical school in 1908, and did well, being awarded prizes in Botany and Chemistry in his first year. He moved to UCD Medical School in 1912, and finished his final exams in Midwifery and Surgery in 1915. From there he joined the the Royal Army Medical Corps, and little did he expect to be gone himself in just over a year.


In 1916 there were outbreaks of influenza in many British barracks, which killed many young men. Referred to as “purulent bronchitis” at the time, many patients developed bacterial pneumonia and died. In some quarters the 1916 outbreaks were thought to be an an early strain of the Spanish Flu which killed over 20 million people from 1918 onwards.


Timeline for Eugene John McSwiney

  • 1889 (Jan – Mar):  Morgan McSwiney and Margaret McCarthy married in Registration District of Middlesborough, Yorkshire North Riding, UK. Morgan and Margaret’s brother Michael had been classmates in medical school together. [Tee Valley Indexes]
  • 1890: Eugene John McSwiney was born on July thirteenth 1890 at Johnstown, Kilmichael, to Morgan McSwiney and Margaret McCarthy, their only child [Civil Birth Registration]
  • 1893 – Morgan McSwiney is the medical officer in Kilmichael [Guy’s Directory 1893]
  • 1901 census: Eugene John is a 10 year old scholar, recorded in the 1901 census, living with his parents at Johnstown, Carrickboy, Co. Cork. Morgan McSwiney, aged 45, J.P., Dispensary Medical Officer. Margaret McSwiney, aged 37 [1901 Census]
  • 1906: Morgan McSwiney dies of gallstones on September 13th in the Mercy Home, Cork, and is buried in Kilmurray [death registration] [grave]
  • 1908 – started medical school in UCC on November 2nd
  • 1909 as a second year student in UCC, he was awarded prizes for both Chemistry and Botany [Report of the President of Queen’s College, Cork, for 1908-09, Appendix p18]
  • 1911 census: Eugene John McSweeney is noted as a 20 year old University graduate at Ardnageeha, Cullen – his mother Margaret McSweeney is a 49 year old widow living with her brother Michael McCarthy, a 53 year old Dispensary Medical Officer, himself a widower, at Ardnageeha, Cullen, Cork. [Ardnageeha just north east of Cullen village] [1911 Census]
  • 1912 UCD Honours- Eugene John passed the preliminary scientific examination, Medical School: Physics and Chemistry, and in Botany and zoology [The Medical Press – July 1912, p23]
  • He had been a student at St.Patrick Dun’s Hospital in Dublin [British Medical Journal – June 1921]
  • Christmas 1914 – Passed his final exams in Midwifery at UCD, and notes that he was a “Moderatorship Prizeman” for 1913 [The Dublin university calendar – p74 & p90]
  • April 3rd 1915 – Passed his final exams in Surgery at UCD [Dublin University Calendar 1915-1916]
  • April 1915: Final M.B (Part I, Materia Medica, Medical Jurisprudence and Hygine and Pathology) … E.J.McSwiney [British Medical Journal – April 1915]
  • 1915: Joins the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) number 128770
  • August 25th 1915 – Royal Army Medical Corps: The undermentioned to be temporary Lieutenants: Eugene John McSwiney, M.B. [SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 20 SEPTEMBER, 1915. p9301]
  • Death: Dec. 26, 1916, He died of pneumonia at Devonport (Devonport is a part of Plymouth, Devon).
  • 2017-01-02 The Irish independent reported his death from wounds having been invalided back from France.
  • Burial: Saint Patrick’s Cemetery, Millstreet. It is the 4th grave on the left as you walk in the graveyard, the first one with a metal railing around it. See further details below.
  • Rank:  Temporary Captain… Campaign Medals:     Victory Medal – [Forces War Records]


The McCarthy Family of Cleanrath and Rathroe

Margaret McCarthy  Eugene John’s mother was the second eldest of 8 children, born to John and Margaret McCarthy at that time living in Drominagh, near Clonbanin Cross. The family moved into Rathroe House after Denis McCarthy Esq and Family moved to Dublin to 4 Ely Place on early 1860’s.

Margaret was born on 16th January, at Cleanrath, Dromagh [Baptism]

Margaret died at Rathroe House on 23-Jan-1934 [Death Registration]. She may have been the last of the McCarthy’s in the house, before it was bought by Con Meaney.

His grandfather John McCarthy (died 1874). His grandmother was Margaret Reardon, Cleanrath (died 15 Feb 1893 aged 74). They were married 24 Feb 1852 atDromtariffe [Marriage]

They were all buried at St.Patrick’s Chrurch Graveyard, Millstreet (Grave details are down further)

NOT TO BR CONFUSED – This John McCarthy was not Denis McCarthy’s brother (John McCarthy Rathduane House was Denis’ brother not this guy) – but there was certainly some complicated connection.

Cleanrath isabout 1.5 miles west of Derrinagree Village [1840 map] [google maps] [1901 Census]
Rathroe House is about a mile north-west of Keale Bridge [map] [Landed Estates]


1901 Census: Residents of a house 1 in Rathroe (Keale, Cork). These are the brothers and sister of Margaret, none of whom married.

Surname Forename Age Sex Relation to head Religion
McCarthy Jeremiah 42 Male Head of Family Roman Catholic
McCarthy John 36 Male Brother Roman Catholic
McCarthy James 36 Male Brother Roman Catholic
McCarthy Frances 29 Female Sister Roman Catholic
Tuomey Nanno 25 Female Servant Roman Catholic
Corbett Nora 20 Female Servant Roman Catholic
Sullivan Timothy 22 Male Servant Roman Catholic
Leary Patrick 22 Male Servant Roman Catholic

1911 Census: Residents of a house 1 in Rathroe (Keale, Cork)

Surname Forename Age Sex Relation to head Religion
Mcarthy John 49 Male Head of Family Roman Catholic
Mcarthy James 49 Male Brother Roman Catholic
Mcarthy Frances 45 Female Sister Roman Catholic
Conway Nora 22 Female Farm Servant Roman Catholic
Buckley Maggie 20 Female Servant Roman Catholic
Conway Maurice 18 Male Servant Roman Catholic


Dr Michael McCarthy worked out of Ardnageeha dispensary in the early 1900s. Born on October 7th 1856, he was one of eight children born to John and Margaret McCarthy of Rathroe House and baptised in the Parish of Dromtariffe [baptism]. He qualified as a doctor in 1885. In 1890 Michael married Louisa Gribbin in Whitby, Yorkshire. They had two children, Cecilia and Michael Charles. In the 1891 Census of England Michael is recorded as a registered medical practitioner in North Ormesby, Yorkshire. By the 1901 Census he and his family have moved to Warrington, Lancashire. Unfortunately Michael’s wife Louisa died and he then decided to return to Ireland with his two children and take up the position as medical practitioner in Cullen. The 1911 Census of Ireland records Michael and his children as living in Ardnageehy, Cullen. The household also records his sister Margaret (a widow) as living with them. Margaret’s husband Morgan of Johnstown House had been the Medical Doctor in Johhstown, Kilmichael but had died in 1906. Both Morgan and Michael qualified from university the same year. I’m unable to say when Dr Michael died, but his son Charlie died in 1933, aged 33 years and Cecila died in 1981 aged 84 years. The McCarthy Family of Rathroe House during the early to mid 1800’s were one of the more significant landowners in the area. [from Ardnageeha Dispensary]

He was the doctor at Ardnageeha Dispensary from about 1905 to 1938 [ref. Denis O’Connor]

Question: Does anyone know what happened to Dr. Michael McCarthy after 1933 and when he died?

Ardnageeha Dispensary is at the entrance to Mount Prospect House: [1890 map] [Photo from 2011]

1911 Census: Residents of a house 2 in Ardnageeha (Cullen, Cork)

Surname Forename Age Sex Relation to head Religion
McCarthy Michael 53 Male Head of Family Roman Catholic
McCarthy Cecilia Gertrude 14 Female Daughter Roman Catholic
McCarthy Michael Charles 11 Male Son Roman Catholic
McSweeney Margret 49 Female Sister Roman Catholic
McSweeney Eugene John 20 Male Nephew Roman Catholic
Flynn Norah 25 Female Servant Roman Catholic
Sweeney Jeremiah 14 Male Servant Roman Catholic


Dr. Morgan McSwiney

McSwiney, Morgan, J P, Johnstown House, Kilmichael BA, MB, MAO RUI 1885 (DATE OF REGISTRATION) [Guy’s]

Morgan joined the UK Medical Register on July 16th 1885.
M.B. 1884, M.A.O. 1885, R.Univ.Irel..
Lic. Fac. Phys. Surg. Glasg..1886 [British Medical Register 1907]

By 1893 he was the medical officer at Johnstown, Kilmichael [Guy’s Directory 1893]

1906: Morgan McSwiney, aged 56, dies of gallstones on September 13th in the Mercy Home, Cork, and is buried in Kilmurray [death registration] [grave]

We know little else of Morgan. There were a lot of McSwineys / McSweeneys in the Kilmichael area at the time. Any assistance would be appreciated.

1901 Census: Residents of a house 8 in Johnstown (Carrigboy, Cork)

Surname Forename Age Sex Relation to head Religion
McSwiney Morgan 45 Male Head of Family R Catholic
McSwiney Margaret 37 Female Wife R Catholic
McSwiney Eugene John 10 Male Son R Catholic
Hickie Ellen 20 Female Servant R Catholic
Mahony James 16 Male Servant R Catholic

Johnstown House, The family home of the McSwineys, located about three miles south east of Inchigeela [google maps] [1890 map]


The probate records list Margaret as his widow, but she was his mother

1916-12 Eugene John McSwiney – probate 1918-03-19 Eugene John McSwiney – probate 1916 Ireland’s Memorial Records – McSwiney Captain Eugene John




This headstone at Saint Patrick’s Cemetery, Millstreet marks the last resting place of Captain Eugene John McSwiney. It is the 4th grave on the left as you walk in the graveyard, the first one with a metal railing around it. The headstone which marks his grave has an inscription in memory of John McCarthy (Capt.McSwiney’s maternal grandfather) B/K: Messrs John & James McCarthy (Uncles) Derinagree, Co.Cork, and Dr.Michael McCarthy, Middlesborough, England  [Historic Graves]

Just below this grave is another railed in grave belonging to the Riordan/Reardon family Cleanrath, and that is Eugene John’s maternal grandmother’s family plot. [Historic Graves]

There is an entry on Find a Grave for Eugene John McSwiney which gives the wrong grave. The authors have been informed, but have failed to change it 🙁 [Find a Grave]

St.Patricks Church Graveyard – WW1 Graves Registration Reoprt Form:
McSwiney, Capt.E.J. 26.12.16 The headstone which marks this grave has an inscription in memory of John McCarthy (evidently Capt. McSwiney’s maternal grandfather) N/K: Messrs. John & James McCarthy (uncles) Drinagree, Co.Cork and Dr.Michael McCarthy Middlesbrough, England
He is remembered in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission [Commonwealth War Graves Commission]


Eugene John is listed on the Sir Patrick Dun’s Great War Memorial. Locaton on the left side of the entrance hall of Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital (Grand Canal Street, Dublin 2). It commemorates the employees who were killed or missing in the Great War (World War I) [Irish Memorials]


Eugene John McSwiney’s two Medal Roll Index Cards


Bits and Pieces

For some reason Eugene John had two Army Medal Roll Cards, one as Eugene J, and another as Edmund J McSwiney – Royal Army Medical Corps #128770

Suicide? it is mentioned here that it may have been suicide, but the locations seem very different. It is known that during the great war, suicides were rarely reported as such, due to the stigma associated with it, and the problem that “suicide” was illegal and most inquests seem to have gone out of their way to avoid “suicide” if they could. [Great War Forum]


The photo of Eugene John McSwiney, is from “Photographs of staff and students of the Medical School at Trinity College Dublin who died in World War I” (photograph 59a).

In a recent memorial exibition (November 1916), the photographs from students of Trinity Medical school who took part in WWI were projected onto one of the walls on campus in an exhibition in their memory. Eugene John’s photo was one of those. (I can’t remember the name of the exhibition, nor find a reference to it)


Video: UCD Remembers Students and staff who fought in WWI (Nov 10th 2018)


This article is part of a series of articles on millstreet.ie on local people who died or took part in WWI. Thus far we have identified 42 locals killed in WWI, and another 110 that took part. (we have a lot of articles to release yet).

Much thanks must go to Noreen Meaney, herself of Rathroe House for the detail of the McCarthy’s of Rathroe.

1 thought on “WWI: Capt Eugene John McSwiney (1890-1916)”

  1. Hello, my grandfather Evelyn Richard Hugh Pollard 1856-1906 was a doctor in the Royal Navy, he trained in Dublin and Galway and a cousin has photos of him taken in Dublin. One may be of him with Morgan McSwiney – and I wonder if it he is Eugene J’s father….. would like to make contact with whoever is researching Eugene John McSwiney…many thanks

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