Clare Medals to feature in Irish Military Exhibition

Clare Champion, Friday, May 12, 2006

Two rare medals in the collection at Clare Museum are to go on display in a major new exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. A Red Cross Gold Medal and a Royal Hibernian Military Academy Medal, both with Clare connections, are to be included in the Irish Military History Exhibition that is to open at Collins Barracks during the summer. The Red Cross Gold Medal first class was awarded to nurse Josephine Canny at the end of the Second World War for her bravery in protecting allied prisoners of war from a German SS Officer. It is the only example ever awarded to an Irish person.

She was born in Mountshannon in 1909, and although her family moved to Mayo shortly after, she always considered herself a Clare woman. She trained in Australia as a nurse before joining the Queen Alexandra Royal Nursing Corps. At the outbreak of World War II she was posted to Sierra Leone and went on to serve with distinction in North Africa and Italy and eventually attained the rank of major. The decoration along with other service medals, were presented to the museum by her niece Teresa Carter.

The Royal Hibernian Military School Medal was donated to Clare County Library more than 20 years ago and was transferred to the museum when it opened in 2000. According to the inscription, the medal was presented by a Colonel R H Car-Ellison to a T Mc Mahon of the RHMS. Mc Mahon was selected by his peers as the most deserving of this award in 1924. While Mc Mahon is a surname associated with the Banner county, the individual who received the medal is unknown. The RHMS was closed in 1924, shortly after the Irish Free State was established.

“Clare Museum is delighted to be able to provide these medals with exposure on a national level,” says museum curator, John Rattigan. “The National Museum has generously provided us with a loan of objects from their collection which is the backbone of our exhibition, so it is nice for us to return the favour.”

Even though the medals will be away from Clare Museum for the duration of the exhibition, they can still be viewed on the museum web site hosted by

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