• Stephen Callaghan

Soldier and Petty Criminal - George Curran

George Butler was born on 5 April 1888 in Kildare. His mother was Bridget Butler, no father is listed on his birth certificate.


On 10 November 1890, Bridget married a soldier, John Curran, in the Catholic Church in Kildare. Bridget was listed as a spinster, with her marriage son George now adopted the surnamed Curran.


The 1901 census records Bridget, George and another child Mary Ellen living with Bridget’s brother George Butler in 5, Moorefield Road, Newbridge. Bridget is listed as a laundress, George and Mary Ellen are listed as scholars.


George attested for service in the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers on 17 July 1906. His trade was given as a labourer and his former or current master listed as E. R. Scully of Newbridge. George’s current residence listed as 1, Dawson Street, Newbridge.


Upon enlisting George was recorded as being 5 foot 5 inches tall and as having grey eyes and brown hair and of the Roman Catholic faith. He spent 49 days training at the militia annual training camp, then joined the regular army on 6 November 1906. George listed his next of kin as his mother, the word father is written but left blank.


George was initially posted to the Depot of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in Naas and then posted to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. This is where his career of being a bad soldier begins, with him deserting on 29 June 1907, then re-joining 23 days later for which he received 21 day’s detention.


In November 1907 he was sentenced to 112 days in Cork prison for stealing good belonging to a comrade. After he was released from prison he was discharged from the army. This began a numerous spell in prison which are listed below.


  • February 1909, imprisoned for one week in Mountjoy Prison for being drunk and paid a fine of 5 shillings and 4 pence.

  • August 1909, imprisoned for 2 months in Mountjoy Prison for stealing a bag of oats.

  • November 1909, imprisoned for 3 months in Mountjoy Prison for vagrancy.

  • April 1910, imprisoned for 3 months in Tullamore Jail for begging.

  • November 1910, imprisoned for 2 months in Mountjoy Prison for assaulting a police officer.

  • April 1911, imprisoned for 6 months in Mountjoy Prison for stealing a motor car tyre, which was value at £3.

  • March 1914, remanded in Kildare for trail after stealing a fur coat, a cloak and a pair of boots.

George had married Theresa Donohue in the Catholic Church in Newbridge on 12 September 1912, they would go on to have four children together. With the outbreak of the Great War, George enlisted for service in the Leinster Regiment, however more spells in prison followed.

  • July 1915, sentenced to 4 months in Mountjoy Prison for ‘representing himself as James Green, of Kildare, and that he had a child dead, to Major Thackeray, from whom he obtained the sum of 5 shillings, and further with obtaining 1 shilling and 6 pence, and his dinner and some flowers from Lily Ginn’.

  • July 1916, held on remand in Mountjoy Prison for desertion from the Leinster Regiment, handed over to a military escort

  • April 1918, held on remand for desertion from the Leinster Regiment and was handed over to the military authorities.

Despite his time in prison George managed to service overseas in France with the 2nd Battalion, Leinster Regiment. His service entitled him to a British War medal and Victory medal, however these medals were forfeited after he deserted on 21 May 1919.


While almost certainly not his final spell in prison, the last recorded time in prison was in November 1924 when he served 14 days in Mountjoy Prison for begging and causing willful damage to a door of a property and smashing a pot with a growing plant in it.


George died in Newbridge on 4 July 1932 as a result of spastic paraplegia. With no medals, his private purchase ID bracelet is probably the identifiable item owned by George.



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