Kilkenny Families in the Great War (1914-18) : transients (non-local names).

We have a large number of families, who due to the fathers’ occupation spent extended periods of time in Kilkenny but who by the time the war broke out in August 1914 had moved elsewhere. Not all of them are to be found in our primary or nominal role, but instead have been recorded in a secondary roll, which will be published at a later stage. The Bernards, a distinguished Church of Ireland family are one such family. They moved to The Palace in 1911 and stayed until 1915, when Bishop John Henry Bernard received promotion and became the Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of All Ireland. Subsequently he was appointed Provost of Trinity College Dublin.

We have a large number of families, who due to the fathers’ occupation spent extended periods of time in Kilkenny but who by the time the war broke out in August 1914 had moved elsewhere. Not all of them are to be found in our primary or nominal role, but instead have been recorded in a secondary roll, which will be published at a later stage. The Bernards, a distinguished Church of Ireland family are one such family. They moved to The Palace in 1911 and stayed until 1915, when Bishop John Henry Bernard received promotion and became the Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of All Ireland. Subsequently he was appointed Provost of Trinity College Dublin.

Bishop Bernard is perhaps best remembered in Kilkenny as the bishop who worked with Lady Constance Butler, the younger daughter of James, 3rd Marquess of Ormonde and his wife the Lady Elizabeth Grosvenor, on translating and publishing the Charters of Duiske Abbey, Graiguenamanagh. Willie Murphy of Castlegarden, Thomastown has written a very interesting article on Bishop Bernard, Lady Constance Butler and their translation of the Duiske charters (see Ossory Laois & Leinster Journal (2010) vol. 4, pp.185-201, which is available in all the local bookshops).

Tragedy came to the Bernard family when their son, Lt Robert Bernard, a career soldier of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was killed at Sedd-el-Bahr, Gallipoli, on 25 April 1915. Robert was the youngest son of the Rev. John and his wife, Maud (née Bernad). Robert had been educated in England at Arnold House, Marlborough College and finally at Sandhurst Military Academy. He was gazetted 2/Lt with the RDF in March 1912 and was serving in India when the war commenced. His father’s diaries and other papers survive in Trinity College Dublin, so we can look into their lives and read what they recorded shortly after the fatal telegram had arrived from the War Office to inform the parents of their younger son’s death at Gallipoli: Bishop Bernard wrote: ‘...our dearest boy was killed last Sunday in action. Poor Maud is broken hearted. My darling Robert – it is hard to believe’. On Sunday the 2 May 1915 he further wrote: ‘The [bell] ringers [at St. Canice’s Cathedral] rang a muffled peel for our dear son’ and further on in the same entry we read: ‘ It is heartbreaking to write letters about Rob all day long. Telegram from [the] King & Queen’. This was not the only family tragedy, for his wife’s brother, Col. Herbert C. Bernard was killed in action at Thiepval on 1 July 1916.

Another ecclesiastical family who were associated with Kilkenny was that of the Most Rev. Dr. Crozier, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland (1911-20), previously Bishop of Down, 1907-11 and before that Bishop of Ossory, 1897-1907. The first member of this family in our findings is Lt-Col Baptist Barton Crozier (RFA) who was a Boer War veteran. The latter’s wife was Ethel Elizabeth Humphrys of Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan. Enroute to India in May 1904 he and his wife visited the Bernard parents at The Palace, Kilkenny, which event was heavily covered by the local newspapers. Baptist was a captain when the war came. He was very quickly posted to France & Flanders where he arrived by 19 August 1914. He was mentioned in despatches in June 1915 for service with the 36th Battery. In September of that same year he was awarded the DSO for actions in March 1915 when he was also wounded twice. As of September 1915 he was a major in command of the 56th (Howitzer) Battery, RGA in Flanders. In June 1916 it was reported that he had been promoted to a staff appointment. During 1917-18 he was in Italy, then an allied country, where he was invested by the King of Italy with the Order of the Crown of Italy. He was also honoured by George V when given a CMG in June 1918. Immediately after the war he was assigned to the Staff College at Camberley. He was promoted to the rank of colonel in 1921.

His brother the Rev. John Winthrop Crozier, was educated at TCD and subsequently ordained a priest in 1904. He saw service in various parishes including Naas & Killashee and then in 1913 he was appointed chaplain to his father by then Archbishop of Armagh. He served as a chaplain for seventeen months with the 29th Brigade, 10th Division, including service at Suvla Bay. He was subsequently appointed chaplain to the Irish viceroy which office he held during the difficult years of 1917-22. Subsequently he became a Canon of Christ Church Cathedral and finally archdeacon of Dublin from 1934.

One other Crozier saw service during the war who had Kilkenny connections: this was Brigadier General Frank Percy Crozier (RIR), who was a son of a Major B. R. Crozier, undoubtedly one and the same family as the former Bishop of Ossory. He was mentioned in despatches in May 1917, awarded a CMG in 1918 & commanded the 3/Battalion of the Welch regiment in 1919 when he retired. His wife was a Miss Grace Roberts of Lough Rynn, Co. Leitrim.

Another family with a church connection was Lt. Lionel C. Burnett who was born in Dover in 1886, joined the navy in 1901 and who was still serving in January 1916 when his health broke down. Upon recovery he joined the RGA for service in France. He was the 2nd son of Surgeon-General & Mrs. Burnett of Richmond, Surrey but his uncle was Canon Burnett of Graiguenamanagh which is the reason why the local newspapers made reference to him at this time. He was killed in action on 10 August 1917. Two other Burnett brothers also served: Lt Maurice (RAMC) & Captain Robert F. Burnett (42nd Delhi Regiment) who was known to his old friends in Graig as ‘Captain Jack’ evidence that all three brothers probably spent time with country cousins in the county away from their parents in Richmond, as many children did and still do to-day.

The Days are another church family who were reported upon in the local papers. The Rev. M. W. Day was Dean of Waterford (died August 1916) and had three sons involved in the war-effort: (Capt) John Edward (6/R, Ir. Regt) who died of wounds 6 April 1917 ; (2/Lt) Geoffrey W., (Cheshire Regt) who was reported severely wounded in action in April 1917 but survived the war & lastly (2/Lt) Maurice C. Day who was killed in action 3 November 1914 in Africa in what is now Tanzania.

Dean Day of Waterford had a cousin, Col. H. Day, late of the Wiltshire Regiment by his wife Florence Day, whose home appears to have been at Southsea (UK). He had two sons who also served: (Rev) Edward R. Day (ACD) and (Major) Francis Innes Day (2/RMF) who was killed in action 22 December 1914 in northern France. The Rev. Godfrey Day, a cousin of all these men, was well known here in Kilkenny in the years leading up to the Great War where he played cricket and was Dean of St. Canice’s Cathedral until his appointment as Bishop of Ossory in 1920. He married into the Langrishe family of Knocktopher, choosing as his bride Miss Cecily Langrishe. In the late 1930s Bishop Day became Archibishop of Dublin but died very soon after his appointment. His widow, Cecily returned to Kilkenny and lived at Kilcreene Cottage, Kilcreen Hill, Kilkenny for many years in her widowhood. Cecily features on our auxiliary role and we have a photograph of her in uniform taken at Kilkenny Castle at Easter 1916, when the Ormondes had her and her voluntary nursing associates to tea. Lady Ormonde who presided sits in the front row, while Elleen the Diowager Lady Desart sits beside her.

Two if not three Brandon brothers served, all being sons of William Brandon NT and his wife Isabella who would appear to have been originally from Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, but who were living in Inistioge, my own parish. Henry (Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 11036), killed in action 1 July 1916; Samuel James (ACC, 4083) who survived, and possibly William, whose involvement is shadowy.

The Considines are another family whose traditional link was with another county, in this instance, Limerick, where their family place was at Derk, but previous to the Great War, Sir Heffernan Considine and his wife Emily Mary, née Talbot, were living at Newpark (possibly what is now the Newpark Hotel) in Kilkenny during the years 1887-1900, as a result of the former’s role as a ‘Resident Magistrate’ a cross between a Justice of the Peace and a District Justice and later a Deputy Inspector-General of the RIC. Four Considine sons went to the war: 2/Lt Christopher Daniel Considine (RDF) who was partially brought up in Kilkenny. He joined up and was commissioned a 2/Lt on 15 August 1914, the same day as his brother, Captain Talbot John (5/RDF). Christopher was attached to the 2/Bn in the Ypres Salient during the fight for Mouse Trap Farm and whilst trying to bring a major and his company of men out of danger under murderous artillery and machine gun fire, was killed 25 May 1915. Talbot had better luck and survived the war to die long after in March 1937. The two other Considine brothers were Lt. Frank (2/RMF) and Capt. Heffernan James (4/R Ir Regt) The latter, who was the eldest son, had inherited Derk in 1912 upon the death of their father, was killed in action 27 October 1916, just days after he had been released from hospital having been injured earlier in the year. His death occurred the day before the news arrived that he had been awarded a Military Cross for his actions at Ginchy for conspicuous gallantry in action. He had handled his company with great courage and skill, maintaining his position under intense fire for 48 hours. He was buried in Kemmel Chateau Cemetary, Belgium. His unmarried sister, Elizabeth, who involved herself with voluntary work was at home at Derk when the news came of his award and then within two days, news of his death arrived. The family had another official connection with Kilkenny in that their father’s brother, St. John Considine was the local government auditor for the Thomastown Union during the Great War years. This period of Kilkenny residence may have been a factor which brought a later Considine family to live at Inistioge in the late 1970s and early 1980s, after Derk had been sold.

Upper servants such as butlers, housekeepers, cooks and so forth tended to be staff recruited from outside Kilkenny. One such man was a Pte Thomas Ackford (Royal Warwick Regiment, 3233), who had worked at some stage in a local ‘Big House’. He was a son of Thomas Ackford ( a Cornishman) and his Limerick-born wife, Ellen. Thomas gave Kilkenny as his place of residence when he enlisted. He was killed in action 14 July 1916 in action.

Another transient name is that of Henry Joseph Ancona who was with the army here in Kilkenny but who was from Stepney, in London where he had been born in 1882. Henry joined the army in October 1902 and was at Kilkenny in November 1906 when he married Helena Quigley in St. Patrick’s Church, Kilkenny, which ceremony was performed by Canon J. Doyle. The couple had at least one child, Christopher George, who was born in Kilkenny 25 December 1907.

Thomas Beech was a groom employed at the Military Barracks, Kilkenny when he enlisted at Kilkenny for the duration of the war. Thomas had seen service with the Imperial Yeomanry before that. He was 26 years old when he joined up (RFA, 89656) and was posted to C Battery of that regiment. He arrived in France on 2 September 1915. In February 1916 he transferred to the 1st Army Trench Mortar School. He survived the war and was demobbed at Woolwich and transferred to the Reserve. After his war service he returned to live with his parents, William and Elizabeth Beech who lived at Upton, near Wellington in Shropshire. A similar family is that of William Henry Claydon, who was a butler by profession, whose link to Kilkenny is quite ‘indistinct’ but during the war his wife, Edith Farren was living at Rose Cottage, Inistioge, whose exact location is unknown to me. Edith does not feature in the 1911 census so was’nt a longterm resident. It is possible that she might have been employed at Woodstock House even though the Tighe family had largely closed up their house and were living in the general London area when the war came. William Claydon survived the war. This family may have been related to George Claydon, a dentist who was living and working in William St., Kilkenny in 1911.

Another ‘transient’ group are all the boys who had been educated at Kilkenny College and we have many from this category. Not true Kilkenny men but having a very real link with the city where they got their education. Amongst these we have: Major P. H. Acheson (ASC, from Fermoy, killed 29 April 1916 ; Lt. G.F. C. Baile (RE, from Dublin , died of wounds 9 November 1917); 2/Cpl E. F. Bates, from Co. Wexford); A. Beatty (Royal Navy); David Beatty (Royal Navy, Borodale, Co. Wexford); Lt. W.G. Bennett (Sikh Infantry, India Army, from Kerry); Lt-Col F.L. Bradish (RAMC); G. Bradish ; Midshipman H. W. Brennan (Royal Navy); 2/Lt. J.J. Brown (RFC & later the Leinsters); Lt. W.F. Brown(e) (ASC); Pte T.A. Burgess (34th Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force);C.H. Burrows (Royal Navy); (Chaplain) Edward F. Campbell ; (Lt)Hubert P. Cinnamond; (Capt) James Clarke ; (Stf-Surg) Richard Connell (Royal Navy); (Rev & Lt) Richard H.Cooke (ASC) who hailed from Drogheda; (Lt) Thomas Arthur Copestake (RFA); (Capt) Edward B. Coursey (RGA) ; (Rev) James Francis Coursey (Auckland Regiment, New Zealand) ; (Lt) Alan V. Dagg(e) from Wicklow (14/Welch Regiment); (Capt) C. Dann (R Ir Regt); Mr. Dobson, who was in the armed forces by June 1916, other details unknown; (Rev). Patrick T. Dore from Limerick (ACD, NZEF) who died 15 July 1918. The list goes on. A plaque in St. Canice’s Cathedral commemorates some of these boys, notably ‘Admiral Beattie (or Beatty) which was put up in the late 1920s adjacent to the position where the organ was before it was moved to its present location in the north transept of the cathedral. We searched for documentary proof of the famous admiral’s link with Kilkenny but failed to find any conclusive evidence. He might have spent a few months or a year or two at the college’s junior school.