Army Pensioner Edward Curren of Mount Sally, Birr
Through the course of my research, I have searched both 1901 and 1911 census for army pensioners living in and around Birr. One army pensioner listed on the 1901 census is Edward Curran, an 80 year old, illiterate and deaf pensioner living in 4, Mount Sally, Birr. While most of the houses at Mount Sally are long since demolished Mount Sally, the laneway consisted of 10 houses, where mainly working class families lived. For a period of time this was home to Edward, whose story we will explore today.
Edward was born in Birr around 1820. He enlisted for service in the 97th Regiment of Foot at Birr on 3 January 1839. The barracks in Crinkill, which was built between 1809-1812 was a great source of local employment. Edward’s previous trade was recorded as a labourer. The 97th (The Earl of Ulster’s) Regiment of Foot had been raised in 1824, many of its recruits coming from Ireland.
Private Curren’s foreign service including being stationed in the Ionian Islands, Malta, Jamaica, Crimea, and Greece. On 9 March 1854 he was promoted to Corporal, but reverted to Private in April, and then again was promoted to Corporal in November 1854.
Corporal Curren landed in the Crimea at Balaklava on 20 November 1854 and took part in the Siege of Sevastopol (7 October 1854 – 11 September 1855) and the Battle of the Great Redan (8 September 1855). It was during the siege that Sergeant John Coleman and Brevet Major Charles Henry Lumley of the same regiment were awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in action. For Corporal Curren’s service he received the Crimea medal with clasp ‘Sevastopol’ and the Turkish Crimea medal.
While the 97th Regiment of Foot served during the Indian Mutiny of 1857, Corporal Curren missed out on active service. He was discharged from the army on 10 February 1860 after having served for 21 years. Upon his discharge he was described as being 39 years of age, 5 foot 6 inches tall with fair hair and grey eyes. He gave his intended place of residence as Birr.
His 21 years of service were marked with good conduct for which he received the Long Service & Good Conduct medal, which was sent to him in Birr.
On 21 October 1876 he married Mary Ryan in St Brendan’s Roman Catholic Church, Edward was noted as a widower.
Mary died on 28 April 1899 in Birr Workhouse and appears to have been buried in the workhouse cemetery. Edward died on 28 March 1903, as a result of ‘old age’. He was interred in Clonoghill Cemetery the next day.