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  • Writer's pictureStephen Callaghan

A Forgotten Peninsular War Veteran in Birr - George Power

While recently browsing the Church of Ireland burial records for Birr, I came across a record relating to George Power, a 56-year-old pensioner of the 5th Regiment of Foot who was buried in Birr on 11 January 1848. The record indicates that the burial ceremony was performed by Assistant Curate Henry Fay. Other from this brief entry, there is no other information about George, digging further we uncover his story.

Burial record of George Power, Pensioner 5th Foot

George was born in Doneraile, County Cork around 1794. He enlisted in the 43rd Regiment of Foot on 28 September 1806. The regiment had been raised in 1741 and saw service during the Seven Years War and the American War of Independence.

Private Power saw service with this regiment during the Peninsular War (1807-1814), where he was present at the assault on the fortress at Ciudad Rodrigo (7-20 January 1812) and later at the Battle of Salamanca (22 July 1812). After 8 years and 31 days service he was discharged from the army.

On 21 April 1822, George enlisted in the 5th Regiment of Foot at Dublin for unlimited service. He served in the 5th Foot for 2 years and 56 days, being discharged on 15 April 1824.

Upon George’s discharge his character was described as tolerable. He was recorded as being 5 foot 6 ¾ inches tall and as having brown coloured hair and grey eyes, his previous trade was that of a weaver.

George was admitted as a Chelsea Hospital out-pensioner on 16 June 1825 with a daily pension rate of 6 shillings. His pension records show him lived in Ennis, County Clare and Limerick, before being in Birr. The pension records also record he was suffering from “slight opacity and ulcerations of right cornea”.

In 1847 George received the retrospective campaign medal, the Military General Service Medal with clasps ‘Ciudad Rodrigo’ and ‘Salamanca’ for his service in the Peninsular.

While residing in Birr, George died on 10 January 1848. George was buried in a nameless grave, in a burial ground within town. He was almost certainly buried in the ‘New Churchyard’ which was opened around 1815 which was built to relieve pressure off St Brendan's graveyard. This burial ground would later receive the unflattering name of ‘Bully’s Acre’ due to its dreadful condition.

'Bully's Acre' Birr, where most the burials are unnamed.

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