The War to End All Wars. A small island off the West coast of Donegal, Ireland. The Somme, Ypres, Gallipoli, Jutland, Ardenne Forest…
One might suppose that there would not be much of an overlap between these world changing events and the lives of Donegal islanders, however it is an incorrect assumption.
Following a discussion in 2014 on Stáir Árainn Mhór about a number of islanders who had fought and died in World War One we started to research from a number of leads. To date we have found 15 men who fought in various services and theatres of war around the world. Some survived, others did not.
Their bravery and courage in the face of some of the worst horrors of The Great War is without doubt. Here are some of their stories…
The icons above link to StoryMaps detailing the individual stories for the Arranmore men listed underneath. The StoryMaps contain rich multimedia content. Please scroll down the left hand column with your mouse/touchpad to read the StoryMap textual content. All links, images, video, audio and maps in both left and right panels are clickable and will provide further story content and detail.
Other Arranmore Men who served in WW1
Below is a summary of the other 14 Arran men that we have found references to as having fought in WW1. Where we have been able to formally identify them in the 1901/1911 censuses, we have added links to their family records. If anyone has any further information or comment on any of these men then please add it to the ‘Arranmore in WW1 Forum’ via the link above.
James Boyle – “James Laddie”
Born 15th February 1890. Working as a Retortman in shale oil mines in Philpstoun, West Lothian, Scotland when he married Bridget Boner on 6th January 1915. Married only a few days when he left with the Irish Guards to France. Son Patrick was born later in 1915. Transferred to 153 Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers in January 1916 as a miner. Killed on 15th April 1917 at Sailly-Labourse, France. Buried at Sailly-Labourse Communal Cemetery.
James was likely working in Scotland in 1911.
Jack (John Joseph) O’Donnell – “Jack Hughdie”
Born 5th July 1895. Son of Captain Hugh Rua. Family owned what is now Killeens. Enlisted in Gordon Highlanders in Derry. Killed on 23rd April 1917 at Roeux, France. Buried at Brown’s Copse Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France.
Jack would have been 16 in 1911. Unclear where he was at this time.
Condy McCafferty – “Condy Phil Mór”
Born 1890. Joined the Royal Navy on 20th May 1918. Served aboard HMS Orion, HMS Pembroke, HMS Lion, HMS New Zealand, HMS Hercules. Survived the war and left the navy on the 19th May 1923. Condy died in Arranmore in 1955.
Condy Gallagher – “Condy Nannie”
Condy was born approx. 1884 in Belcruit, Donegal. He joined the Irish Guards in November 1914. He arrived in France on 25th May 1915. Condy was severely wounded in October 1915 at Lens when he was shot 9 times in the legs and feet. He was admitted to hospital on 19th October 1915 where his condition was so serious that he wasn’t discharged for nearly 2 years, only finally being released on 1st June 1917. He survived the war and moved to Arranmore sometime afterwards where his sister was already living married to an Arranmore man. Condy died in Ballintra on 8th December 1954.
Hugh Gallagher – “Hughie Anthon”
Born 1893. Joined the Inniskilling Fusiliers on 11th July 1916. Also served with the Irish Fusiliers. Survived the war and demobilized on 9th November 1919. Died on 12th May 1967.
Born 18th April 1890. Family moved to Chicago, USA. Working as a miner when drafted in Shoshone, Idaho.
1901 Census – Listed
1911 Census – Family not listed in census
Family may already have already emigrated to USA in 1911.
John “Jack” Early – “Jack Shein Mhor”
Born approx. 1887. Served in France and survived the war. Some islanders have childhood memories of Jack sometimes wearing his uniform on Arran. Jack died on the 17th August 1964. He is buried just past the Arranmore Disaster grave. The only other name on the gravestone is that of his sister Biddy.
Thomas was born on 1st February 1892. Thomas joined the Royal Navy on 18th May 1918. This was around the exact time as Condy McCafferty. He served aboard HMS Implacable and HMS Idaho. He was demobilized from the navy on 19th April 1920. He may have moved to the USA after the war as his naval records have addresses in Cleveland Ohio and New York for him in 1923/24.
Not clear where Thomas was in the 1911 census. He would have been 19.
Patrick is mentioned in the book ‘Donegal, Ireland and the First World War’.
Owen is mentioned in the book ‘Donegal, Ireland and the First World War’.
Upper Leabgarrow, Arranmore
Served with the ‘Black Watch’. Patrick is mentioned in the book ‘Donegal, Ireland and the First World War’.
John Bonner – “John Brian”
Unknown townland, Arranmore
Served in France. John is mentioned in the book ‘Donegal, Ireland and the First World War’.