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  • Writer's pictureStephen Callaghan

Private Patrick Doolan, 2nd Battalion, Leinster Regiment

A number of years ago I came across a Queen's South Africa medal. On initial research there did not appear to be much information about the man behind the medal. However with some luck I was able to establish the man's service during the First World War. This is the story of Patrick Doolan.

Private Doolan's QSA medal

Patrick was born in Clonony, King’s County on 3 March 1875. He was the son of Patrick Doolan and Rose Doolan (née Dunn). Patrick and Rose had married on 18 February 1873 in the Roman Catholic church in Cloghan, both with an address of Shannon Harbour.

Patrick enlisted for service with the Leinster Regiment at Birr on 8 February 1897. He was described as being 5 foot 6 inches tall, with light brown hair and grey eyes. After initial posting to the depot at Birr, Private Doolan was transferred to the 1st Battalion in May 1897. The battalion served at home until April 1898, when it was posted to Halifax, Canada for garrison duty. The 1st Battalion, Leinster Regiment would be the last British Army unit to garrison the country, and rather fitting too considering the regiments Canadian origins.

With the outbreak of the Second Boer War the battalion was swiftly mobilised for active service in South Africa arriving there in April 1900. The 1st Leinsters remained in South Africa until after the wars end and returned home to Ireland in September 1902. For his service in the conflict Private Doolan received the Queen’s South Africa medal with the clasps ‘Cape Colony’, ‘Transvaal’ and ‘Wittenburgen’, and the King’s South Africa medal with the clasps ‘South Africa 1901’ and ‘South Africa 1902’. The men of the battalion received their awards in 1903 while stationed in the old Fermoy Barracks, County Cork.

1st Battalion, Leinster Regiment receiving their medals in Fermoy Barracks 1903.

Whilst stationed in Fermoy, Private Doolan married Margaret Hennessy in the local Roman Catholic Church on 3 April 1904. Margaret, a servant maid was from Fermoy and had been living on Barrack Hill. In the next few years they had three children, Ruth, Thomas and Rose, all born in England.

The battalion remained on home service for the rest of Private Doolan’s service, he was discharged in February 1909 after completing 12 years’ service with the colours.

After finishing with the army, Patrick and his family returned to his native home of Shannon Harbour where they are recorded on the 1911 census. Patrick is recorded as a labourer. In 1913 another son was born, John Joseph.

With the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, experienced soldiers were encouraged to re-join. As an experienced soldier, Patrick answered the call and enlisted in the 7th (Service) Battalion, Leinster Regiment. The battalion was formed in October 1914 as part of Kitchener’s New Armies. Arriving in France in December 1915 he was soon transferred to the 2nd Battalion.

Whilst Patrick was serving in France Margaret gave birth to a son, Michael on 14 January 1916. The birth certificate indicates that the family were living in Kildorrery, County Cork.

Private Doolan remained in France and Belgium until he was killed in action on 4 September 1918 during the capture of Hill 63. The attack had begun at 8am however the men had come under heavy enemy shell fire from 7am. He was buried in Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery, Belgium. Patrick’s will stated ‘In the event of my death I leave the whole of my property and effect to my WIFE Maggie Doolan’.

For Margaret’s trouble she was awarded a widow’s pension in March 1919 to support her and her children. She married Patrick Condon in the Roman Catholic church in Kildorrey on 27 January 1924.

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