Kilkenny Families in the Great War (1914-18)

This week I am going to look at instances of Dollard or Dullard which crop up in Kilkenny Families in the Great War. There are only about a half-a-dozen entries but to one particular family there is a story. A Kilkenny city man, going about his daily business happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when he emerged from the Friary Church having said a quick prayer before going in search of his breakfast. He was an employee of Kilkenny Corporation and never made it back to his work place.

This week I am going to look at instances of Dollard or Dullard which crop up in Kilkenny Families in the Great War. There are only about a half-a-dozen entries but to one particular family there is a story. A Kilkenny city man, going about his daily business happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when he emerged from the Friary Church having said a quick prayer before going in search of his breakfast. He was an employee of Kilkenny Corporation and never made it back to his work place.

Dollard or Dullard is a surname I associate with the area around Listerlin & Tullogher which are in the parish of Rosbercon, which is very near where I grew up in the parish of Inistioge. Our next door neighbour Jack, biked it to mass in Listerlin/Mullinaharrigle Chapel every Sunday and every Holy Day, a journey of three difficult miles each way, while his wife travelled with us to Inistioge, which as well as being an easier journey had the added advantage for her, that she could catch up on family news, with her sister-in-law, who happened to be the Inistioge chapel woman, a post she held for many years. Often we sat in the car while the two women chatted andthen shopped and quite often my father, getting impatient, would mutter that neither of them would give last to the Almighty. But our neighbour, Bridget, knew her man and knew too that a packet or two of cigarettes kept to hand in her house (even though she never smoked herself) ensured silence but this was only a cover for their respective roles as ‘good neighbours’. Inevitably during the following week he would run-out & as Inistioge was too far, one of us would be sent down to Bridget’s for a supply. In the thirty years they knew each other, she never ran out! Anyway, Bridget knew most of the Listerlin/Mullinaharrigle families including Dollards, who I think are still in the area. Now to the Dullards/Dollards.

The first chap we have is James F. Dollard about whom we know very little. He was from Kilkenny, as he gave it as his place of residence, when he enlisted into the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (serial no. 8/26036). We picked him up twice in the local newspaper – The Kilkenny Moderator - and once in the Irish Times, when he was wounded in action about 20th of May 1915 and again in July 1917. That’s the last we see of him and as far as we know he survived the war. He may not have returned to live in Kilkenny.

The next man is Edward (Ned) William Dullard of Walkin St where he was born 8 June 1886 to a William Dullard, a carpenter, and his wife Margaret Thornton. By the time Ned enlisted he had moved to Rutland (MASS, USA). He served on the western front and is recorded on an Honor Roll for Ward 7, Waltham (MASS). A local paper there reported that he was wounded in action in August 1918. He survived the war but not for long due to bad health. He died of TB which was rampant amongst veteran survivors but his death was also due to having been gassed during the War. He received treatment at the Veterans Hospital, 89th Street, Rutland (MASS) but he died at the home of his brother, Nicholas F. Dullard of Pearl St., Waltham and was buried on 7 February 1927 in Calvary Cemetary, Waltham, in an unmarked grave no. 4365-66. The pall-bearers at his funeral were from the American Legion Post no 156 of Waltham who were led by Lt-Col Arthur A. Hansen. He was a cousin of Nicholas Dullard who also served in the war but we will come to him a little later in the story.

Next we have James Dullard from St. Canice’s parish who was born c. 1887. Before the war he enlisted at Clonmel and served for over ten years before leaving the army. He lived in England for a while but had returned to Kilkenny and was living in Walkin St when he was mobilised for the 3Bn., Royal Irish Regiment (no 8293) and by 27 August 1914, he was in France. In January 1915 he was severely wounded in action and evacuated to Kilkenny to recover from his injuries. He had partially recovered when complications set in and he died in the Kilkenny Military Hospital on 26 February 1915 in or about his 28th year. He was buried in St. John’s Roman Catholic cemetery, in a grave about nine yards west of the east entrance, his remains having been brought there on a gun carriage, driven by six members of the 235th Battery, RFA, and escorted by a 100 men of the same force, under the command of Capt Mackesy and Lts Campbell & Adams.

His late father Edward Dullard had also served with the Colours and it is reported that he often enjoyed displaying his different medals and decorations, probably over a pint. The latter had it seems two brothers in the army, including Pte John Dullard who was in the 2/Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles (no 7815). He had arrived in France by 13 August 1914 and was taken prisoner by the Germans soon after and as a result spent much of the war in Limburg Camp, where he had arrived by February 1915. He survived the war and as a resident of Archer St., in October 1919 was registered to vote as an army/navy man. The Kilkenny People of 6 February 1915 reported on his presence at Limburg, where he no doubt came to know and appreciate Fr Thomas (James) Crotty, the Roman Catholic chaplain, who had been sent by the Pope to minister to all Catholics held there.

The next man is Pte Martin Dullard, husband of Bridget Walsh whom he had married at St. Patrick’s Church, 2 October 1911. Martin enlisted at Kilkenny on 23 December 1914 for the duration of the war when he gave his age as 22 years and 11 months ; he was 5’5” tall, had a chest size of a little over 33” and weighted about 112 lbs. He sailed from Southampton with his battalion 6/Royal Irish Regiment, on 17 December 1915 and was in France the same day. He survived until 9 September 1916 when he died of injuries received on the battlefield. His widow Bridget got the news in a letter dated 28th September. He left three young children after him: Patrick (b 10-9-1912) ; James (b27-7-1914) and a daughter Mary Catherine (b 2-9-1916) who never knew her father. The infant James died about the same time as his father. Martin’s will survives in the National Archives (147/293274 16/17).

Our last man is Nicholas Dullard, of Walkin St who enlisted into the 1 Bn of the Leinsters (serial no 6108). Nicholas enlisted at Kilkenny, a veteran of the Boer War ; he had served for over seven years. He was in France by 8 September 1914 and survived until 23 April 1915 when he was mortally wounded in action, while on watch duty in a front trench when an enemy attack was launched. His warmest of friends and platoon sergeant, J.Matthews - another Kilkenny man - with whom he had soldiered in different lands, had his wounds dressed and removed back to a temporary hospital behind the lines, where he lingered throughout the day, but succumbed to the bullet wound that had entered his right breast and exited through his right lung at 4.a.m. Sgt. J. Matthews wrote to Nicholas’s window to elaborate on his bravery and to return a photo Nicholas had had on him of her and their child. Nicholas’s last words to Sgt. Matthews were ‘Oh my poor dear wife and child’. He was buried by his comrades in a little graveyard some distance from the firing line, and on his cross was the simple but true inscription ‘Killed in Action’ yet that grave, or at least the marker was subsequently destroyed for to-day Nicholas has no known grave, but he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres, Belgium, panel 44. He was only 35 (or 33) years old. His widow, Mary Dullard, née Byrne, resided post-war at 2 Callan Road, Kilkenny. Nicholas’s will also survives in the National Archives (64/167833 15/16). The Kilkenny People of 8th May 1915 reported his death. This Nicholas was a cousin of the Edward (Ned) William Dullard, who had died in the USA of TB in 1925 & also of the latter’s brother, another Nicholas. The dead Nicholas, who was born c 1880 was possibly son of a Nicholas who was b 1859 at Inistioge who would seem to have been the youngest son of a Thomas Dullard (born about 1849) and his wife, Catherine, née Murphy. This couple also had : William, b 1850 St. Patrick’s parish, Thomas, b 1854 Inistioge, Catherine, b 1855 Inistioge (who married in 1881 in St. Patricks, a William Shiels) and a Mary b 1857, probably in Inistioge.

Now we must move forward in time to the War of Independence but we are still in Kilkenny. At about 9.30 on Monday 21st February 1921 a party of between eight & ten soldiers of the Devonshire Regiment, including a boy soldier named Reginald Graham of about sixteen years, entered Friary St, on their way with a provisions cart from the Military Barracks to Kilkenny Jail, where a number of political prisoners were held. The provisions party was led by a lance-corporal and the men were in extended formation, two by two back to the rear guard, These two last solders were attacked by two men of the Kilkenny Brigade of the IRA, namely Captain Thomas Hennessy, a respected figure from the Threecastles area and Michael Dermody, a farmer and road-contractor. The attackers were after the guns of the soldiers and had nearly succeeded in getting them when a female passer-by alarmed by the scuffle cried out, thus alerting the lance-corporal, who instantly gave the orders to shoot. Six shots were fired all from the military side even though it was subsequently found that Hennessy and Dermody had loaded pistols in their pockets. Hennessy died instantly while Dermody lingered for a few days. Their names are commemorated in a mural monument on the wall of the building which is at right angles to the Friary Church.

A third man however died that morning, whose name went unrecorded on any memorial. This was Thomas Dullard, a Corporation employee, who had been at work since early morning in charge of a number of men at the Corporation sandpit which was off Wolf Tone St. As Dullard left the church he encountered the military and the IRA attackers. In the crossfire he attempted to escape via Alderman Slattery’s poultry establishment but the soldiers thinking he was one of their attackers shot him after they had called ‘Halt’and he had failed to stop, believing that the order was not meant for him. Thomas Dullard suffered a head wound which had blown away part of his skull. He died almost immediately, the last rites having been administered by a Capuchin. The Military closed off the area while they searched for the companions of the two attackers. A number of bicycles were found but the search party failed to find any colleagues of the two dead Kilkenny Brigade men.

Next day, Tuesday , the body of Thomas Dullard was released from the Kilkenny Military Hospital and conveyed to St. Patrick’s Church. Captain Hennessy’s body was also released that same day. Very large crowds attended both funerals. The weekly meeting of Kilkenny Corporation which met that evening, adjourned after passing a vote of sympathy for Tom Dullards widow and children. The next day, Wednesday, Tom Dullard was buried. Captain Hennessy’s funeral attracted a greater crowd and there was a feeling of tension in the air, as the British Military stopped the cortege and removed a republican flag from the coffin.

Tom Dullard was only 37 years when he died and left a widow, Bridge, née Nolan, with six children. The couple had married in 1905. Thomas was the sole bread-winner for the family and within a year his widow’s poor circumstances forced her to leave their home on Walkin St and take up residence on the Callan Road in a much smaller two-roomed house. Bridget Dullard unsuccessfully went to the Courts for compensation from Kilkenny Corporation. Her case was repeatedly adjourned. Mr. Buggy acted for the Corporation. Finally the Judge found in favour of the Corporation and Mrs. Dullard received nothing. Fortunately however she was able to pursue a claim for malicious damages against the British Forces and received an award which supplemented her widow’s pension.

Many years after this event, Reginald Graham, the 16-year-old-boy-soldier who had been one of the soldiers escorting the provisions cart from the Military Barracks to Kilkenny Jail, gave an interview to the Imperial War Museum. He was by then a very old man having had a successful military career and had ended up with the rank of major. He recalled that day in Friary St and it was his belief that his fellow soldiers had in shooting dead Thomas Dullard, had in fact killed a veteran of the Great War who had been on their side in the fight against the ‘hated Hun’. The fortunes of War he thought. He was’nt quite accurate. Thomas Dullard had not been involved in the Great War but other Dullards had been, some of whom were close kin of the corporation employee. This knowledge came to Reginald Graham, possible from some of his fellow-soldiers, who no doubt were Irish and might even have included a Kilkenny man or came to him in the local pubs after the event.

Nicholas Dullard who died at the Front in April 1915 had lived in Walkin St as did Thomas Dullard. We know that the soldier, Nicholas Dullard was a cousin of Edward (Ned) Dullard who had emigrated to the USA and died there of TB in February 1925. We know too that Ned was the son of a William Dullard, a carpenter who is probably the same William who was born c. 1850 to Thomas Dullard and his wife Catherine Murphy whose children were born either in Inistioge or in Kilkenny city. It is probable that Thomas Dullard, the 37 year old Corporation worker who died in Friary Street on that fateful day was close kin to Nicholas Dullard the dead soldieer & to Ned who died in Anmerica and also to the latter’s brother, another Nicholas all being grandsons of the original Thomas & Catherine Dullard who had lived in Inistioge for many years before moving to Kilkenny city.