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  • Writer's pictureStephen Callaghan

Crimea Veteran Robert Dillon

Robert Dillon was born in Birr, King’s County (Offaly), in 1837. The son of labourer, Thomas Dillon. He enlisted at Birr for service with the 14th Regiment of Foot on 10 May 1854. Initially underage at just 16 years and 6 months old, he later saw overseas service in Malta and the Ionian Island for 4 years and 11 months, the West Indies for 4 years and 2 months, the East Indies for 8 years and the Crimea for 10 months.

While serving in the Crimea Private Dillon was received a gunshot wound while on duty in the trenches at Sevastopol on 27 May 1855. For his service in the Crimea he received the Crimea medal with clasp “Sevastopol” and the Turkish Crimea medal. In addition to these campaign medals he also received the Long Service & Good Conduct medal.

After his first period of engagement he reenlisted for a full term of 21 years. After completing this he discharged from the army on 6 March 1877. At the time of his discharge he was recorded as being 5 foot and 5 inches tall, and having hazel coloured eyes and brown hair.

Returning to his native Birr with a military pension, Robert married Bridget Jackson (nee Whelan), in St Brendan’s Church of Ireland Church on 10 February 1881. Bridget was a widow and was recorded as living on Townsend Street.

Bridget later died on 23 February 1890 aged 40 years as a result of debility. Her profession noted as a midwife.

The 1901 census records Robert as living alone at number 3, School Street, Crinkill. Robert died on 6 June 1909 after a short time in Birr workhouse, as a result of senile decay. He was interred in Clonoghill Cemetery will full military honours.

Robert’s funeral went directly from Birr workhouse to the cemetery, the first funeral of its kind in Birr. His oak and brass coffin draped with the Union Jack. The Dead March was played until Synefield and “Beethoven” until the cemetery. The Leinster Regiment depot provided a firing party. After the burial service was read three volleys were fired and Last Post sounded. The coffin had been provided by Mr Jacob and the hearse by William Egan.

Clonoghill Cemetery

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