Recognising South and East Galwaymen in the Great War

Steve Dolan

It is often overlooked that when Great Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th 1914, there were already 20,000 Irishmen in the British Army and a further 30,000 in the reserves. In essence, this was 8% of the army total and as much as a fifth of the reserves total. Given the political efforts to restore self-government to Ireland, these figures are perhaps higher than one would have expected.
These numbers were swelled further by those enlisting subsequently, as many as 140,000, whatever their politi-cal motivation (and perhaps we’ve had too much ‘guessing’ at same). Pictured are three of the recruiting posters which were utilised to appeal to Galwaymen and helped the swell of numbers referred to!
Over the coming four years, through our facebook page, SEGAHS will be marking the date of death of more than 150 Soldiers from our area and we will pay tribute to their memory in various appropriate commemorations. Onto specifics, a SEGAHS study of those from South-East Galway who perished highlighted an average age on death of only 26 years. Well over a quarter of those who perished fought with the Connaught Rangers, with close to two thirds holding the rank of ‘Private’. The resting places of these men is also being investigated.
The vast majority of those who fought are buried abroad, however the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) record 2,597 burials in the Republic, of which only 96 are in Connaught and 45 are in Co Galway. This compares to 86 in Co Tipperary, and 90 in Co Limerick.
In south-east Galway, there are 17 formally recognised burials (7 being Connaught Rangers), though it is evident this is not extant. Indeed, the CGWC themselves acknowl-edge two other burials in Creagh in Ballinasloe.
In any event, of the 17 soldiers, 11 are buried in Ballinasloe (10 in new and 1 in old Creagh Cemetery), 4 are buried in Loughrea (3 in Garrybreda and 1 in the COI), and 1 each in Kilconierin and in Willmount Athenry.
Pictured right is the headstone of Rifleman Thomas Donohoe (Kilconierin) who died on 12th June 1917. Pictured far right is the headstone of Guardsman T J Smyth (Loughrea) who died on August 10th 1918 and he is buried in the Church of Ireland (COI) there.

This Chronicle was created using information originally published in the South East Galway Archaeological and Historical Society Newsletter No. 16.

Additional Information
Date of Death 10th Aug 1917