WWI: Denis Creedon, Laught (1887-1918)

Today marks the centenary of the sinking of the Royal Mail Ship Leinster (10am October 10th 1918), after it was struck by two torpedoes from a German U-Boat 16 miles  off the Dublin coast near the Kish Lighthouse. Commemorations are taking place in Dún Laoghaire for the 501+ passengers and crew died that day, the worst maritime disaster on the Irish Sea. Many of the passengers were military who were returning from leave in Ireland.

Among them was  Dennis Creedon, of Laught, the son of Jeremiah and Norah Creedon, who was returning to Britain after leave at home.  He was 31 years and left a wife Julia behind him. He was the last local person from Millstreet to die in World War I.

He had moved to Wales where he was working in the mines. He married Julia Moynihan in 1913, and when the war broke out, like his three brother in laws, he joined the British Army, seemingly like many others, for a better income to support his family. His time was apparently uneventful, and he was based in Bedford. He received a promotion to Corporal and transferred to the RAF on 17th September 1918 (#301441), where his trade within the army was as a “Hospital Orderly”. Having been on leave, he was returning to Britain, when he was drowned that day. His body was recovered, and was sent to Millstreet by train where it was waked in St. Patrick’s Church, and the following day buried at Kilcorney Cemetery with his family. He is also commemorated at the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton.

[read more …] “WWI: Denis Creedon, Laught (1887-1918)”

WWI: Patrick J. Donohue of Bolomore

In 1906, 17 year old Patrick Donohue from Bolomore, Rathcoole, a farmer’s son, one of nine children, arrived in Lawrence, Massachusetts, looking for work. He probably never imagining that a few years later he would be hailed a hero in France, earning a Purple Heart and a Silver Star.

Paddy, as he was known, was a Mill Worker in Lawrence, enlisted in the United States Army in 1917 to fight in World War I. He was assigned to Company G, 328th Infantry, 82nd All American Division. After training, he was sent to Europe in May 1918. On October 8th, 1918, he was one of 17 American soldiers that were tasked with taking out German machine gun nests near Châtel-Chéhéry on the French-German border. Hugely outnumbered by the Germans, they broke through the German line took a large number of prisoners, but then came under huge gun fire and suffered casualties, Donoghue also being wounded, but they still managed to take out the machine gunners, causing the Germans to withdraw, allowing the Allies to get behind the German lines.

G Company was known to the public because of the 1941 movie, Sergeant York, starring Garry Cooper (see the movie clips below). Sgt.  York got the credit and Gary Cooper got the Academy Award. But as we know, one man alone was not responsible for the German defeat. Private Patrick Paddy J. Donohue of Lawrence was one of the unsung heroes of that battle.

[read more …] “WWI: Patrick J. Donohue of Bolomore”

WWI: William Edward Dennehy, Knocknakilla (1890 – 1918)

At the far end of Drishane Cemetery lie the remains of William E. Dennehy,  who died serving the U.S. army, a hundred years ago today near the France-Belgium border. He was the second-last Millstreet man to die in World War I, only four weeks before the armistice that finished the war.

Born in Knocknakilla in 1890 to Daniel Dennehy and Margaret Murphy, he had and older brother Jeremiah and a younger sister Mary. Life must have been tough as his father died of TB when he was only three, so it was likely that the family was very poor. His grandfather lived with them until he died in 1906, and by 1911 we know that both boys were working as agricultural labourers. Two years later William moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts where his aunt Mary and her husband Patrick Long (of Aubane) were living. He worked as a leather handler at the Armour Leather Company, and sent what spare money he had back home to support his family, but in 1917 he got drafted into the American  army. He didn’t want to go as he stated in his draft registration that he was the breadwinner for his mother and sister. It didn’t matter. From September 1917 he trained in Camp Devens in the 301st Infantry, “Bostons Own”. In June 1918 he became an American citizen, and was transported to war in Europe aboard the S.S. Cedric, leaving New York on July 6th 1918. Landing in Europe the 301st was disbanded, and William was assigned to the 163rd, and two weeks later to the 58th Infantry, part of 8th Infantry Brigade, which was assigned to the 4th Division.
He saw action in Toulon, St. Mihiel, and finally in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, where he was reported missing on October 7th 1918 at Bois de Fays, about 3km west of the town of Brieulles-sur-Meuse.
He was buried there, but the American public wanted their fallen boys brought home. The French blocked the repatriations for three years, but relented, and eventually on May 21st 1922, sixty-four US soldiers of Irish birth arrived in Dublin at the request of their families. William was one of those, and he was brought to Millstreet and given his final resting place in Drishane Cemetery.

The Dennehy family around 1900. Left to right: Margaret (mother), Jeremiah, Mary, and William

[read more …] “WWI: William Edward Dennehy, Knocknakilla (1890 – 1918)”

Presentation of Important Historic Items to Millstreet Museum

In this Easter Week 2018 we celebrate the recent presentation by Noreen O’Sullivan (née Hickey of Mill Lane, Millstreet), Kilcummin, Killarney of three wonderfully historic items relating to Denis Hickey who was awarded a prestigious medal having died in Gallipoli in 1915.   The excellent items are presented in memory of the late Owen Hickey, Coolatouder, Kileady, Ballinhassig whose father, Ted, is a native of Mill Lane, Millstreet.   The brother of Denis, J.F. Hickey of the Royal Irish Regiment who died in 1918 is remembered in the West End Cemetery.  We wish to express our sincere thanks to Noreen, Ted and the Hickey Family for this very important historic presentation to Millstreet Museum. Click on the images to enlarge.  (S.R.) [read more …] “Presentation of Important Historic Items to Millstreet Museum”

WWI: John J. Cremin ( – 1918)

Just over a hundred years ago, on or about March 23rd 1918, another Millstreet man was killed in World War One. He was John J. Cremin, a gunner with the “C” Battery of the 79th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, and was killed on Flanders Fields, near the French / Belgian border. He is one of 35,000 men who died in WWI near Arras that have no grave, but whose name is listed on Bay 1 at the Arras Memorial.

But, we know little else about him, other than he was from Millstreet. Does anyone know who he was, or where he came from? or anything else.

Ireland Casualties of World War I 1914-1922 for John Cremin [1]
[read more …] “WWI: John J. Cremin ( – 1918)”


Daniel Corkery of West End, Millstreet died on this day a hundred years ago in WWI (March 21st 1918), from wounds suffered during the German Kaiserschlacht (Spring Offensive).


(27th April 1897 – 21st March 1918)
(He died this day 100 years ago)

by Kevin O’Byrne

On September 4th 1915, the ship, ‘The Hesperian‘, left Liverpool bound for Canada. Some 350 passengers were on board. At 8.30 pm as darkness was falling, she passed the Fastnet Rock. Without warning, Captain Schweiger, in a German submarine, launched a torpedo which struck ‘The Hesperian’ in the forward engine room. Captain Main of ‘The Hesperian’ ordered the passengers and crew into lifeboats but he remained on the bridge with his officers. The German submarine was the same one that sunk the ‘Lusitania’ on May 7th, 1915 with a loss of almost 1200 lives.

This time 32 lives were lost. Among the survivors was my Uncle, Daniel Corkery from West End, Millstreet, Co. Cork. On Sept 3rd he had sent a card with a picture of the Hesperian to his father saying that he had just boarded the ship. On Sept 6th his father had a letter from Danny in Queenstown (Cobh) informing him that the ship had been torpedoed 400 miles from the town. The lifeboat, my uncle was in, was picked up by ‘The Empress’ which had come out from Queenstown to rescue people.

2014-12-07 Pte Daniell Corkery - Torpedoing of the Hesperian - More of the SurvivorsAfter this ordeal my uncle appears to have stayed at home for some time. On Tuesday April l8th, 1916, he joined the Royal Munster Fusiliers (RMF) and left for the Tralee depot on Easter Sunday April 23rd 1916. From then until he was sent to France on December 1st 1916, he wrote several letters home to [read more …] “PTE. Daniel Francis Corkery, 6919, 2ND BATTALION, ROYAL MUNSTER FUSILIERS”

WWI: Private John F. Hickey

On this day one hundred years ago, Private John Francis Hickey of Mill Lane was killed in an accident. He is one of only two WWI soldiers killed during wartime that is buried in St.Patrick’s Church Cemetery in Millstreet:

Deep regret was felt in Millstreet and locality when the sad news of the death under tragic circumstances of Private John F. Hickey, 2nd Royal Irish Regiment, at the Cork Railway Station, became known. The deceased joined the colours at the outbreak of the war, and had been on active service at the front, and was wounded on two occasions. The deceased was a general favourite in Millstreet, and his untimely end has evoked deep regret. At Christmas he was at home on leave for a few weeks, and was then in the best of health. On Tuesday a large and representative concourse of people assembled at the Millstreet Railway Station, awaiting the remains off the 2.50 train from Cork, and accompanied the remains to the family burial ground at Millstreet churchyard. Deep regret is extended to his family in their sad affliction. The prayers at the graveside were recited by the Rev. J. Breen, CC, Millstreet. A beautiful wreath from his comrades was placed on his grave. The chief mourners were: Mr. Timothy Hickey (brother), Mrs. Ellen Hickey, and Master Frank Hickey of Mill Lane.  (Cork Examiner 1/2/1918)

[read more …] “WWI: Private John F. Hickey”

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. [read more …] “WWI: Capt Eugene John McSwiney (1890-1916)”

Colonel John Leader of Keale House

john-leader-of-keale-house-01“Colonel John Leader is, above all things, modest, for he insists on saying, when asked about his life, ‘My hideous past?’ Why nothing exciting ever happened to me.” Passing over the fact that he has seen service with all the allies but one, has been an interpreter of Japanese, Chinese and German, Colonel Leader said, “I guess the thing I was most proud of was winning my ‘blues’ at college.” Blues are what Americans call letters meaning that Colonel Leader was a “letter man” at his school. He won letters in mostly everything. He was captain of the hockey, polo, soccer and lawn tennis teams.”

John Leader was born in Quetta, a high-altitude city in modern-day Pakistan, to Irish parents in 1877. He was born into a long line of military men; his father, Surgeon-Major John Leader, was a colonel who enjoyed a distinguished career in the British military service. He left India when a small boy, and journeyed to his family home in Ireland. The Leaders have an old moated hall at Keale in Cork, where the last fourteen John Leaders have lived. The old family name was Temple until the time of the Battle of Boynewater, when John Temple from Keale took such an important part in the conflict that King William renamed him Leader, and Leaders they have remained. Although born in India, Colonel Leader is thoroughly Irish, and has all the Irish humor of his ancestors. [read more …] “Colonel John Leader of Keale House”

WWI: Lieutenant William Felix MacCarthy O’Leary

William Felix MacCarthy O’Leary

Lieut. Wm. F. MacCARTHY O’LEARY, Royal Munster Fusiliers.
Killed in action in France on September 7th, 1916. Aged 22.

In “Billy” MacCarthy O’Leary we have lost one who was so recently amongst us that many boys still at the College remember well the tall form and good-humoured face of one who was a general favourite with his school-fellows. The notice from The Times for September 9th, which we print below, briefly summarises his career :-

“Lieut. William Felix MacCarthy O’Leary, Royal Munster Fusiliers, killed on September 7th, 1916, aged 22, was the son o f the late Lieut. Col. W. MacCarthy O’Leary and Mrs. O’Leary, of Coomlagane House, Millstreet, Co. Cork. His father was killed in action while commanding the 1st Bn. The South Lancashire Regt. at Pieter’s Hill, Natal, on February 27th, 1900. He was educated at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, and when war broke out was at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, whence he was gazetted to the Royal Munster Fusiliers. He was with his battalion at the Dardanelles, and was wounded in the attack on June 28th, 1915. He rejoined his regiment in August, but was sent down to Alexandria with enteric (typhoid), and after some months’ illness was invalided home last December. He rejoined his regiment at the front in July. His two elder brothers are serving in the South Lancashire Regt. and the Royal Irish Fusiliers.”

In a letter to Mrs. MacCarthy O’Leary acquainting her with her son’s death, the Colonel of the regiment wrote :— [read more …] “WWI: Lieutenant William Felix MacCarthy O’Leary”

O’Leary Letter from Adrivale – December 1918 (2nd of 3)

At the end of 1918, World War I was just over to the relief of all. Delivery of letters over and back across the atlantic returned to normality, and Patrick O’Leary of Adrivale wrote letters to his sister and brother in America, giving them the news of Ireland and his reaction to hearing that his nephew Patsy from Ohio was among the troops in France. Below is the second of three letters sent to us by Patsy’s grandson Patrick O’Leary, which was written to his sister Sister Mary Francis in the US.
As it happens Patrick arrived in Ireland today for the O’Leary Clan Gathering in Ballyvourney this week.
1918-12-23-oleary-letter-from-adrivale-page-01 [read more …] “O’Leary Letter from Adrivale – December 1918 (2nd of 3)”

Private Cornelius Rahilly 10714

rahilly-photoOn seeing Seán’s article yesterday on the anniversary of the death of Roger Casement, Carmel reminded us of her grandfather local man Con O’Rahily who was one of the men in Casement’s Brigade.

Born on February 14th 1895 at the home of Mary Kelleher and Cornelius Rahilly, at Dooneen. He joined the Royal Irish Regiment in May 1913, and arrived in France on August 13th that same year.He was soon captured in the retreat from Mons. His battalion had retreated under the weight of the advancing Germans. After two days of retreating with little food nor water, pounded continually by German artillery, the next night their officer got them lost in the dark, and they woke the next morning looking down the wrong end of a German machine gun. He describes how the 15 of them captured were deliberately machine gunned by the Germans, and only 9 survived, including the officer. The Germans suspected them of using dumdum bullets and it took a great deal of negotiation by the officer to get their lives spared. As a prisoner of war, he was moved from camp to camp, until one day a German officer was recruiting for an Irish Brigade. Within this brigade Roger Casement made a recruiting speech in February 1915. Casement sought to send a well-equipped and well-organized Irish unit to Ireland, to fight against Britain, in the aim of achieving independence for Ireland. Such an action was to be concurrent with the ongoing war between Britain and Germany, thereby providing indirect aid to the German cause, without the ex-POWs fighting in the Imperial Germany Army itself. In spite of his eloquence only the 56 joined, but Con was one of those. They were trained by [read more …] “Private Cornelius Rahilly 10714”

Private Patrick Byrne, kia 19th January 1915

Private 1914-12-03 Last Will of Patrick ByrnePatrick Byrne died on this day January 19th in 1915 in the Ypres area of Belgium from wounds received in action. He is commemorated at the Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres IX. A. 61.

He enlisted in Mallow in December 1914, and joined the Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) – 2nd Battalion, Service no. 3563.

He had been born on 24th March 1882 in the Millstreet Union Workhouse to Joseph Byrne and Catherine (née Kelleher, and who married Callaghan after Joseph died).

The below extract gives idea of what he and his regiment had to endure at that time in January 1915:
It was on the 12th of January 1915, that we relieved the Cameron Highlanders in the trenches round St.Eloi, a place with which the Battalion will be long and honourably associated. One company moved up to the famous mound. The way led through a morass which although some twenty yards wide required an hour to traverse, for we went up to our armpits in the frightful mud and some men had to be hauled through by man force by three or four comerades. [read more …] “Private Patrick Byrne, kia 19th January 1915”

Denis Kelleher, KIA in WWI 100 years ago today

On this day 100 years ago (12th January 1916), Denis Kelleher of Flintfield was killed in action on the Calais area of France, part of the Western Front of WWI at the time. He was 36 years of age.

He was a guardsman with the Irish Guards 2nd Battalion, with whom he enlisted in Deptford, Surrey. He is buried in Grave A21 in  Rue-du-Bacquerot Graveyard (13th London), Laventine. The inscription by Mr J. Kelleher Keale Bridge reads: “On his soul, Jesus have Mercy”.

Last will of Denis Kelleher, Flintfield. WWI 1916-01-12 a Last will of Denis Kelleher, Flintfield. WWI 1916-01-12 b

The last will of Denis Kelleher (written on 3rd August 1915)

[read more …] “Denis Kelleher, KIA in WWI 100 years ago today”

Denis Hickey died this day 100 years ago in Gallipoli

1915 Denis Hickey - last informal willLance-Corporal Denis Hickey died this day 100 years ago in Gallipoli, Saturday November 27th 1915, having arrived there on August 16h.

Officially it is stated that he was killed in action, but it appears that while the fighting had almost ceased in Gallipoli at the time, the weather may have been a factor in his death: “Late in the month gales swept over the peninsula, hundreds were drowned in the flooded trenches or from exposure or frostbite”.

He is commemorated at the Helles Memorial, Panel 185 to 190.

Born in Millstreet, he was one of about twenty Millstreet men that died in the great war, but we have been able to find out little about him. Does anyone have some background on him, or know someone that does ?

[read more …] “Denis Hickey died this day 100 years ago in Gallipoli”

On this day 100 years ago: Michael Desmond died in Gallipoli

7004 Private Michael Desmond, 1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers was born in Millstreet on January 9th in 1884 to John and Mary Desmond of Claramore, and was baptised the following day in St.Patrick’s Church Millstreet.  Michael was from a large family who lived in Claramore, until they  moved to Liscahane in 1906 (?). At 17 Michael was working as a farm labourer in Caherbarnagh, and was working for Charles McCarthy on Feb 2nd 1902 when he enlisted to the British Army in Mallow. 48 days later he joined the Royal Munster Fusiliers. We have no account of him from there on. Records say that he later enlisted in Tralee, Kerry, and landed at V Beach on the first day of the Gallipoli landingsMichael Desmond Medals on 25 April 1915 only to be killed in action on the following day 26th April aged 31. He is buried at V Beach Cemetery, Gallipoli, Canakkale, Turkey. Plot: Special Memorial A. 36.

* His posthumous war medals (pictured right) were sold last year. Here are the details from the online sale: “1914-15 Star officially named to 7004 Pte. M. Desmond R. Muns. Fus and Memorial Plaque (considerably pitted) to Michael Desmond. Also with badly damaged and erased British War Medal disc and WW2 mounted [read more …] “On this day 100 years ago: Michael Desmond died in Gallipoli”

Millstreet’s WWI Dead

Names, dates and places of death taken from the Irish Memorial Records, listing all those from Millstreet that died in WWI over in Europe.


  • O’LEARY EDWARD 1914-10-03 FRANCE
  • BREEN DENIS 1916-03-27 FRANCE
  • HICKEY JOHN F. 1918-01-26
  • CREMIN JOHN 1918-03-23 FRANCE

Note: the Irish Memorial Record is incomplete, often incorrect and can contain duplicates. Nonetheless it is interesting information. From a discussion on wartime newspapers which lists all the dead from Cork

update (2014-01-12): this article has been superceeded by another which has more WW1 war dead, and much more information on each one