The medal was offered up for display by Clarecastle man Alan Barnes who this week answered a call from the Museum seeking artefacts relating to the “War To End All Wars”.
Despite discovering that Private King from Turnpike in Ennis died of wounds received in France on 2 February 1915, the local taxi driver had been unable to track down the serviceman’s family.
“Clare Museum has placed the medal on display in a bid to track down members of Private King’s family, who are the artefact’s rightful owners”: stated John Rattigan, Curator of Clare Museum.
He continued: “According to the 1901 Census, Patrick King was a 17 year old farm hand working at a location close to Kildysart in County Clare. Besides that there is very little else we know about Private King, let alone the whereabouts of any of his descendants.”
According to Mr. Rattigan: “The story of Clare’s 7,000 world war one participants has been well documented. However, how this Victory Medal ended up buried in mud on the grounds of a local church remains a mystery. I believe that by tracking down members of Private Patrick King’s family we can contribute in some way to remembering all of Clare’s soldiers who died in the First World War.”
The Victory Medal was instituted in 1919 to commemorate the Allies' defeat of the Central Powers. It was resolved that each of the Allies should issue a Victory Medal to their own nationals. Private King’s medal was one of 5,725,000 British Victory medals issued.
Private King’s medal has been placed on display as part of Clare Museum’s “90 Years On - County Clare and The Great War” exhibition, marking the 90th anniversary of the ending of the Great War.
Among the other items placed on display are the medals, photographs and personal stories of more than a half dozen Clare men who served in the 1914-1918 War.
Mr. Rattigan pointed out that the majority of the 640 men from County Clare killed during the fighting were serving for the American, Canadian or British armies.
He stated, “Many Clare people are unaware of the considerable contribution made by their fellow county men to sign up and fight in the army of foreign country. It is widely accepted that a combination of unemployment, idealism and adventure probably accounted for most of the enlistment.”
350,000 Irishmen volunteered for service during WW1 in addition to the 50,000 Irishmen already serving in the regular army and reserve at the outbreak of the war.
Most of the Clare men who enlisted to fight during the war served with Irish infantry regiments of the British Army, including The Royal Irish Regiment, The Connaught Rangers, The Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians), The Royal Munster Fusiliers and The Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Others served in British Regiments including the Tyneside, Liverpool and London Irish Battalions.
“90 Years On - County Clare and The Great War” was launched today and will continue until Christmas. Clare Museum is open Monday to Saturday and admission is free of charge.
Note to Editor:
- John Rattigan, Curator, Clare Museum (065-6823382)
- Images relating to this story are available from Press 22 at (00353) 61-204222.
Dunphy Public Relations