Kilkenny families in the Great War (1914-1918)

Last week we accounted for about half of the Ryans who served in the Great War. This week we resume with the Joseph Ryans of whom we have two. The 1st Joseph Ryan (Urlingford, 5543, Irish Guards) died of wounds on 16 April 1915 leaving a widow Kate who was then living at 7 Charlotte St., Carlow. The 2nd Joseph Ryan (Kilmacow, 1268, Royal Irish Regiment), enlisted at Waterford in September 1914 for three years. He saw only home service and this briefly as he was discharged for varicose veins in the left leg on 12 December 1914. His next of kin was a Miss Bridget Ryan whose home address was not given.

Last week we accounted for about half of the Ryans who served in the Great War. This week we resume with the Joseph Ryans of whom we have two. The 1st Joseph Ryan (Urlingford, 5543, Irish Guards) died of wounds on 16 April 1915 leaving a widow Kate who was then living at 7 Charlotte St., Carlow. The 2nd Joseph Ryan (Kilmacow, 1268, Royal Irish Regiment), enlisted at Waterford in September 1914 for three years. He saw only home service and this briefly as he was discharged for varicose veins in the left leg on 12 December 1914. His next of kin was a Miss Bridget Ryan whose home address was not given.

Two Martin Ryans feature. The 1st Martin Ryan (Kilkenny, 5380, Royal Dublin Fusiliers) died of wounds 25 January 1915 in northern France. His parents were Martin & Anne (née O’ Keeffe) Ryan of Chapel Lane in the city. In the notice of his death which appeared in the Kilkenny Moderator, we are told that his paternal grandfather, the late Edward Ryan of Chapel lane, had served with the 99th Regiment of Foot in the Crimean War, in which he lost a leg. The 2nd Martin Ryan who had the middle name of John had emigrated to the USA where he enlisted with the American forces. He was reported to have been severly wounded-in-action by the US War Dept in a list released in Washington on 11 July 1918. His next-of-kin was his mother Mrs. Julia Ryam of Coolbawn, near Castlecomer.

Then we have a Matthew Ryan who was living in Kilkenny city but who was serving abroad at the time his wife, Kate née Morgan, gave birth to a son, Thomas, at their Waterford Road home on 4 October 1919. We have no further details on this man.

We have seven Michael Ryans, one of whom Michael (the 2nd a sgt, 1615, Royal Ir Regiment) has been dealt with already. The first Michael who was from Foulkscourt, Johnstown was picked up on the Voter’s Register of October 1919 as a former army-navy man who as a result was entitled to vote. The 3rd Michael, was a resident of the Hebron Road, where again we picked him up on the Voter’s Register of October 1919. The 4th Michael Ryan (4293, Royal Ir Regiment), was living in Bennetsbridge, while his parents Edward & Margaret Ryan were living in Danesfort. This Michael had seen army service in India and S. Africa and was in the Reserve when the Great War broke out. He was mobilised immediately and was in France by 7 October 1914. He was reported missing-in-action 19-21 October 1914, but was later confirmed to be a POW at Hamel and later at Limburg. In 1918 he was transferred to Holland by the Germans. He was finally repatriated home on 18 November 1918. He subsequently joined his wife Johanna at their home on the Danesfort Road, Bennetsbridge. The 5th Michael Ryan (4516, Royal Ir Regiment)who was from St. Patrick’s parish, enlisted at Kilkenny and was in France by 7 October 1914. He survived until 11 September 1916 when he died of wounds and lies buried in Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abbe, Somme. By his will which survives in the National Archives, Dublin (147/293284 16/17) he left his effects to his wife Bridget Ryan who was living at the Water Barracks, Kilkenny. The 6th Michael Ryan (7747, Royal Ir Regiment) was from St. John’s parish, He found himself at Gallipoli by 19 July 1915 from where he was transferred to France where on 3 July 1916 at Mametz Wood, he received fatal wounds and to-day he lies buried in Etables Military Cemetery. This Michael was the eldest son of James and Bridget Ryan, Keatingstown Cottage, Kilkenny. The 7th & last Michael Ryan was born in Abbeyleix on 9 August 1890 was an RIC constable (no. 64418 and was the son of an RIC sergeant then stationed in Ballyroan, Queen’s County) who was serving at the Parliament St., station when he enlisted as did fellow RIC constables P. Fleming, W. Gildea, T. Collins, M. Connell & J. Campbell. He had disembarked in France by 25 May 1915 ; taken POW by the Germans and issued with no. 18197D but was either exchanged or escaped for he was killed in action at the Battle of Cambrai on 27 November 1917 ; a letter his mother wrote to him on 14 November 1917 was returned by men of his battalion who wrote that he had gone missing on 27 November and the leader of the German squad had passed the letter to them asking it to be forwarded, as it had been found on Michael Ryan’s body in Courlon Wood, Cambrai, where he had died fighting ‘as a good soldier would wish to die’.

Nicholas John Ryan (2832, AIF) originally from Mallardstown, Co. Kilkenny but who was living at Perth in Western Australia is our next man. His parents John & Mary Ryan and a sister Mary Ann were by then living at Rathpatrick, Johnstown. He survived the war.

Three Richard Ryan’s, two of whom were from Kilkenny city served. The 1st Richard Ryan was living at Motty Lane in the city and had a wife and two underage children with whom he was not living in June 1923 when the family came to the attention of the local courts. Richard had recently spent eleven weeks in hospital suffering from a war-related ailment and this would seem to be the same Richard Ryan who was interred at Limburg for much of the war. The 2nd Richard Ryan (7027, MGC), who had Francis as his middle name has already been dealt with. The 3rd Richard Ryan was from Mong, Thomastown where he was born c. 1879. Subsequently he emigrated as a youth to the USA, where he joined the New York Police Force which he left to serve in the Spanish-American war ; subsequently he joined the British Army for service in the Boer War in which he attained the rank of sergeant. He was later to serve in the Great War. During his varied overseas services he lost an eye, was only one of five survivors aboard a torpedoed warship and was severely shell-shocked for which he was awarded the Military Medal and a DCM. He returned to Ireland in 1918 and subsequently acquired a house near Fethard, Co. Tipperary. He went onto serve with the 3rd Tipperary Brigade during the Troubles and following the Anglo-Irish Truce and the subsequent establishment of the Irish Free State, he joined the Irish National Army. He was to die in a Carlow hospital in late January or early February 1956 when the Kilkenny People carried an account of the man in their edition of 4 February.

Six Thomas Ryans served. The 1st Thomas Ryan was from Tullaghmaine (sic), Kilkenny. We found him on the Voter’s Register of October 1919, as a navy-army man in the Earlstown Division . We think he may have been a sailor who had originally joined that service back in 1898. The 2nd Thomas Ryan (11436, East Surrey Regiment) was from Thomastown but his family subsequently lived in the lodge at Firgrove, Inistioge, which place was then occupied by Miss Charlotte Langrishe, one of the Knocktopher Family. Miss Langrishe, a friend of Lady Louisa Tighe (who left her an annuity in her will) has passed into Inistioge history as the gentlewoman who married her ploughman, a chap named Roche, which belief seems not to be based on any firm foundation. In any event she left ‘Roche’ as she would have addressed him, her fine house and substantial farm, which is to-day occupied by the Tennyson family. Incidentally this is a good time to mention Miss Eileen Langrishe, a daughter of Richard Langrishe (a brother of Miss Charlotte L.,) of Noremount and later of Archersfield, Kilkenny, who worked for the Ministry of Munitions at a munitions factory near Blackhheath, London during the war period. Her sisters, Cecily, later the wife of the Rev. Godfrey Day, Lord Bishop of Ossory and later still Archbishop of Dublin, and Marjorie worked in the voluntary services and probably feature in the group photograph taken at Kilkenny Castle during Easter of 1916, which featured in the Kilkenny People (edition of 13 April). Cecily and Marjorie worked under Lady Ormonde who with other grand dame ladies such as Ellen, the Dowager Lady Desart and the Hon. Mrs. Cuffe of Sheestown, ran the Red Cross in Kilkenny. When Lady Ormonde retired as head in 1916 she was succeeded by Mrs. Cuffe, (widow of the Hon. Captain Otway Cuffe of Gaelic League associations).

Now we must return to the Ryans and specifically to Thomas Ryan of the East Surrey Regiment, who later served with the Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers (47976). After the war he lived at the ‘Laurel Hotel’, Ballalowry, Thomastown, a one-time lodging house for ‘gentlemen of the road’ kept by his grandfather James Woods. His parents were Patrick and Ellen (née Woods) Ryan of Norelands. His first cousins James Woods (10914, Royal Ir Regiment) and Thomas Woods (a founding member of the Thomastown branch of the Comrades of the Great War Association, regiment unknown) also served. Mrs. Nellie Barron (née Woods), Newtown Terrace, but formerly of Jerpoint, a niece of both James & Thomas Woods and a cousin of Thomas Ryan, has memories and memorabilia of all three men which she very generously shared with us, as did many Kilkenny people both at home and abroad, during the course of the research work.

The 3rd Thomas Ryan (332826, CFA, CEF, gunner) gave his place of birth as ‘The Castle’ Co. Kilkenny where he was born in December 1871. He was living at Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, when he enlisted for the Great War. He then stated that he was a bachelor and a stonemason by trade, who was 5’7” tall, with a chest size of 40”, blue eyes with dark brown hair and had 4 years previous military service with the 69th Field Artillery Volunteers. He declared his next-of-kin to be a Michael Ryan, who was then living in the Newport area of Wales. The 4th Thomas Ryan was a native of Inistioge, my own parish where he was living at the time of his death 5 May 1950. The Kilkenny People of 13 May carried his obituary. He was survived by his widow and a grown family. He lies buried in the old graveyard in Inistioge. The 5th Thomas Ryan was a Boer War veteran, in which conflict Kilkenny was very well represented, who was reported by the Kilkenny Journal, edition of 14 August 1915, as being charged with disorderly behaviour at Athlone Army Barracks. The report also stated that he was from the Patrick St., area of Kilkenny city. The 6th and last Thomas Ryan (604, RGA, BSM) had the middle name of Martin who was apparently living in Kilkenny or at Aldershot, Hants. The surviving sources contradict each other on this point. He enlisted in London and was to loose his life on 4 April 1918 in northern France.

The last Ryan entry from our main role relates to a William (Royal Ir Regiment), who hailed from Castlecomer. The Kilkenny People, edition of 31 July 1915, reported that he was on home-leave then, following 5 months in hospital, recovering from a gun-shot-wound to his left arm sustained at 3.00 a.m. one night while on sentry duty in the trenches of Flanders.

On our Auxiliary List which largely documents the service men who had retired from active duty by the time the war broke out in August 1914, but who returned to serve with the Colours, and who due to age were generally but not always so, only assigned home duties, we have another Richard Ryan (6802, Royal Ir Regiment, sgt) who enlisted at Kilkenny and who was living in the Carrick-on-Suir area but who was a Corkman by birth having been born at Ballineen, in that county, c. 1873. He was killed-in-action on 14 May 1915 in northern France.