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  • Writer's pictureStephen Callaghan

Clonoghill Stories: Private Christopher White

As it was the anniversary of the death of Private Christopher White during this past week it would only be fitting to feature his story as this week’s blog post.

Christopher was born in Birr around 1893. He was the son of John White and Mary White (née Fanneran). They married in St Brendan’s Catholic Church on 15 April 1885. Both from Birr. John was a labourer.

The 1901 census record John and Mary with their children, John, Mary Ellen, Kathleen, Christopher and Michael as living on Shamble Lane, a small side alley off Main Street. The lane seems to be mainly made up of working class families. The 1911 census records the family living on Fayle’s Lane (their neighbours would have been the Gallagher’s covered in a previous post

With the outbreak of the Great War, John and three sons joined up. John was serving in the 3rd Battalion, Leinster Regiment. It is possible he had been previously serving with the battalion and was called up with the outbreak of war. Sons John, Christopher and Michael served. Michael joined the Leinster Regiment and went to France in September 1914 with the 2nd Battalion, he was later transferred to the 1st Battalion and saw service in the Balkans. John likely served with the Durham Light Infantry although a newspaper article mentioned he was serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Christopher joined the 6th (Service) Battalion, Leinster Regiment. The battalion had formed in Dublin in August 1914 as part of Kitchener’s New Armies. The battalion moved to Fermoy, County Cork, then Curragh Camp, County Kildare, the stationed in Birr Barracks and then back to Curragh Camp in February 1915. It was here where Private White died on 23 February due to pneumonia.

Private White’s remains were brought home to Birr. When the coffin arrived at the train station, it was carried to the hearse by six of his comrades. He was given a full military funeral. His remains being interred in Clonoghill Cemetery. The funeral was performed by Rev. Dean Scanlan. The firing party was provided by the 11th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, a volley of three shots were fired over the grave and ‘the Last Post’ was sounded.

The two remaining sons Michael and John survived the war and returned home to their parents, who were now living on Mill Street, Birr. They received a small pension in respect of Christopher’s service and death.

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