• Stephen Callaghan

Just a Victory Medal - Private Moloney


William's Victory medal

A few years ago I bought a cheaply priced Victory Medal to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, the recipient was William Moloney. Some basic research revealed he died of wounds on 2 July 1916, no doubt these were wounds he received on 1 July, a causality of the Somme. Today on the 105th anniversary of his death, we explore William’s life.


Born in Dublin on 24 January 1891, he was the son of Denis Moloney and Esther Moloney (née Walker) of Pill Street. A long forgotten and now demolished street off present day Church Street.


Denis had married Esther on 29 November 1874 in St Michan’s Church. Denis was recorded as living at 9, Moore Lane, and Esther had been living at 33, Fisher’s Lane.


The 1901 census records Denis, Esther and their children; James, Denis and William living at 21.2 Chancery Street. Denis was recorded as a carpenter, Esther as a fish dealer and James as a carpenter’s apprentice, Denis and William were recorded as scholars.


Denis died on 1 November 1909 from chronic bronchitis. The 1911 census records Esther, Denis and William still living on Chancery Street. Denis was recorded as a fireman and William as a moulder. The 1911 census also reveals that Denis (snr) and Esther had 7 children with only 4 surviving to adulthood.


With the outbreak of the Great War, William enlisted in the British Army, joining the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. The 1st Battalion arrived in France in August 1914 as part of the 4th Division of the British Expeditionary Force, where they fought at Mons and Le Cateau. It was not until 16 June 1915 when Private Moloney entered France.


With preparations made for the Battle of the Somme to take place on Thursday 29 June 1916, bad weather resulted in a 48 hour delay, with the infantry assault to begin on Saturday 1 July. The 1st Battalions, Royal Irish Fusiliers objective was the Quadrilateral, a German strong point. The Royal Irish Fusiliers 9th Battalion, was to take a more prominent role in the battle.


Going over the top on the 1st of July, Private Moloney was fatally wounded and died as a result of his wounds the next day. With the subsequent heavy fighting his grave was lost and his name is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Thiepval, France

William’s mother Esther and his sister in law Agnes were recipients of his pension. Esther also received William’s medals, the 1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and Memorial Plaque. Esther remained living on Chancery Street until her death in 1935.



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