Buried with a view - Private Andrew Cahill, Royal Irish Regiment
Oughterard graveyard, County Kildare is situated on the hillside beside the village of Ardclough. The graveyard and area is steeped in history with a fantastic view point from the graveyard. The graveyard itself is probably most notable for one of its famous interments, Arthur Guinness. However, on my first visit to the site I was completely oblivious to this fact and more interested in the humble grave of Andrew Cahill. From the information on his grave, he had served in the Royal Irish Regiment and was a veteran of the Hazara campaign. This is Andrew's story.
Born around 1850 in the small village of Moone, County Kildare. Andrew enlisted in the 19th Regiment of Foot at Dublin on 6 January 1868. Upon his enlistment he gave his previous trade as a labourer. He was recorded as being 5 foot 5 inches tall, having a fresh completion, blue eyes and red hair. He was also currently serving in the militia, the Wicklow Rifles.
Private Cahill was initially posted on home service from January 1868, however took part in the Black Mountain Expedition in India in October 1868. The expedition came about when a British outpost was attached by tribesmen in July 1868. A punitive force was assembled and dispatched to the Black Mountain region were small skirmishes were fought and native villages destroyed.
For Private Cahill’s service in this campaign he received the India General Service medal with the clasp ‘Northwest Frontier’. He would later also received the Long Service & Good Conduct medal for 18 years good service.
On 6 January 1874 Private Cahill married Hannah Free, a servant from County Wicklow at St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Rathdrum, County Wicklow.
Private Cahill was transferred to the 2nd Battalion, 19th Regiment of Foot in October 1874. He remained on home service until October 1874 when he was posted to India. In India he was transferred to the 1st Battalion, 18th Regiment of Foot in September 1876, which would later go on to become the Royal Irish Regiment in 1881 as part of the Childer reforms. Private Cahill was finally posted on home service from May 1881 until his discharge from the army on 23 October 1881 at Clonmel, County Tipperary. In total having served 20 years and 250 days.
The 1901 census records Andrew, Hannah and two children, John aged 18 years and Agnes aged 15 years, living in 25, Vicar Street, Tuam. Andrew is recorded as a gardener and John as an unemployed groom.
At some point the family move to Andrew’s native Kildare. Hannah is recorded as dying on 25 February 1906 from heart disease. Her place of residence is given as Bishopcourt. Andrew dying four years later on 31 August 1910. His cause of death syncope result of cardiac disease. He was listed an army pensioner, with his residence as Oughterard Hill.
WO 97 - Service papers