Attempts To Trace Family of WWI Medal Recipient

Irish Examiner, Thursday, November 13, 2008

By Pat Flynn

A man who discovered a first world war medal on the grounds of a church in Co. Clare has enlisted the help of his local museum to track down the artefact’s rightful owners. The Clare Museum in Ennis has put on display a Victory medal which was awarded to a Private Patrick King of the British Army’s South Lancashire Regiment 2nd Battalion. It is understood that Private King was originally from the Turnpike in Ennis. The medal – discovered in the mud on the ground of Clarecastle Church in Clare – has been offered to the museum to display by local man Alan Barnes after the Clare Museum sought artefacts relating to the so-called war to end all wars.

Despite discovering that Private King was originally from Ennis and that he died of wounds received in France on February 2, 1915, the local taxi driver has been unable to track down the serviceman’s family. Curator of Clare Museum John Rattigan said: “We have placed the medal on display in a bid to track down members of Private King’s family who are the artefact’s rightful owners. According to the 1901 Census, Patrick King was a 17-year-old farm-hand working at a location close to Kildysart in Clare. Besides that there’s very little else we know abut him, let alone the whereabouts of his descendants.”

The Victory medal was instituted in 1919. It was resolved that each of the allies’ should issue a victory medal to their own nationals. The medal has now been placed on display as part of Clare Museum’s exhibition 90 Years On – County Clare and The Great War, marking the end of the Great War.

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 King’s family we can contribute in some way to remembering all of Clare’s soldiers who died in the first world war.”

About 350,000 Irishmen volunteered for service during the war in addition to the 50,000 Irishmen already serving in the regular army and reserve at the outbreak of the war. The 640 men from Co. Clare killed during the fighting were serving with the American, Canadian or British armies.

Among the other items placed on display as part of the exhibition are the medals, photographs and personal stories of more than a dozen Clare men who served in the 1914-1918 War.

90 Years On – County Clare and The Great War will continue at the Clare Museum until Christmas. Admission is free of charge.

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