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A Family at War:
The Connoles and Hallorans of Ennistymon

In a time when so many families gave their fathers, sons, brothers and uncles to war, what makes this family stand out from the rest is that all but one survived the major conflicts of the Boer War, the Great War and the Second World War.  

Patrick Connole of Ennistymon, Co. Clare, enlisted as a gunner in the Royal Artillery in 1898 and served 12 years in the British Army, including service in Malta and Gibraltar. His younger brother, Johnny, enlisted with the 5th Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers (RMF), in 1900, aged 18, and fought with the British Army during the Boer War in South Africa from 1900 to 1902; he later served five years in India on the North West Frontier. In 1908 Johnny returned home unscathed from these conflicts. After their discharges in 1910, Patrick joined the RMF Special Reserve, while Johnny re-enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps.


Private Patrick Halloran saying goodbye to his mother and sister at Ennistymon Railway Station,1914
Click photo for details

In August 1914, Patrick was mobilised and transferred to the 16th Irish Division while Johnny was posted to the 13th Field Ambulance Corps. As the Great War unfolded, the Connoles were joined by their brother-in-law Michael Halloran (also from Ennistymon) and his six sons.

Patrick Halloran enlisted with the Connaught Rangers while his father, Michael, and brothers, John, William, Michael, Jeremiah and Martin, joined the RMF.

'By an awful co-incidence, it was the first nephew to enlist for war and the only one that joined the Connaught Rangers that lost his life. On Thursday 29th April 1915, Patrick was fatally wounded during the Second Battle of Ypres', Gerard Halloran, a grand nephew of both families, said. 'He now lies buried in Hazelbrouc Communal Cemetery, Nord, France.'

In January 1915, Patrick Connole was posted to France and fought there until June 1916 when he received a gunshot wound to his forearm. After 11 months of sick leave Patrick was posted to Salonika, Greece, for the remainder of the war.

When the war was over the Connoles and the Hallorans were discharged from the army. They had borne witness to the savage horrors of the Great War and, like so many families at the time, would live with the bitter heartache of losing a loved one.

In 1939, with the outbreak of the Second World War, the Connole brothers and Michael Halloran (senior) again answered the call to arms but were refused on age grounds. The five surviving Halloran brothers, however, were accepted and, as experienced soldiers, they knew what they would be facing.

John, William and Michael enlisted with the British Army while their brothers Jeremiah and Martin, who were then living in New York, enlisted with the US Armed Forces. 'Jeremiah and Martin experienced the turmoil of the D-Day landings and were lucky to survive', said Gerard.

The Hallorans returned from the war highly decorated veterans. John, William and Michael returned to England while Jeremiah and Martin returned to America, all awaiting their discharge. As life slowly returned to normal, William remained in England and Michael and John returned to Ireland, marrying sisters Catherine and Agnes MacNamara respectively, and settling down in their hometown of Ennistymon. While Martin stayed in America, Jeremiah finally came home to Ennistymon in 1963.

Today the memory of this fighting family is preserved by the tireless work of Gerard Halloran and the North Clare War Memorial Committee.

Taken from an interview with Gerard Halloran, published in An Cosantoir, October 2002.

Clare County Library wishes to thank Clare Local Studies Project
for preparation of raw text for this publication.


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