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  • Writer's pictureStephen Callaghan

The Ennis brothers of Stoneybatter, Dublin

John Ennis's headstone in Grangegorman Cemetery.

On my last visit to Grangegorman Military Cemetery, my attention was caught by the headstone of John Ennis of Stoneybatter, Dublin. The name and place were familiar to me, as I had come across a soldier named William Ennis from Stoneybatter while writing Birr Military Cemetery (2020). I correctly suspected that William was John’s brother. This interesting connection resulted in a further look at the Ennis family, indicating another brother, Michael, had also served in the British Army.

The brothers were the sons of William Ennis and Mary Ennis (née Dougherty). William, was from Maynooth, County Kildare and enlisted in the 28th Regiment of Foot at Dublin on 27 January 1865. He served in Gibraltar, Malta, Hong Kong and the Straights Settlement. He married Mary in Gibraltar on 27 April 1871. He received the Long Service & Good Conduct medal for 21 years’ good service. He was discharged from the army on 12 November 1885, after which he resisted in Stoneybatter, Dublin. (William and Mary additionally had a daughter Bridget who was born in Gibraltar in 1872). Below we explore the service of the Ennis brothers.

William Ennis

William was born in Malta, circa 1875. He joined the 2nd Battalion, Leinster Regiment on 31 October 1892. His previous trade was as a wine porter. Private Ennis served with his battalion in South Africa during the Second Boer War, for his service was entitled to the Queen’s South Africa medal with the clasps ‘Transvaal’, ‘Orange Free State’, ‘Cape Colony’ and ‘South Africa 1902’. Private Ennis was later posted to the depot in Birr. He died in the military hospital of heart weakness. His death was reported in the King’s County Chronicle on 18 July 1907.

‘On Monday, Private William Ennis of the Depot Leinster Regiment, aged 32, son of Mrs Mary Ennis, Stoney Batter, Dublin, died in Birr, after a long illness. The remains were interred in the military cemetery, adjoining the Fourteen Acres, to-day, Wednesday, at 3 o’clock. With soldierly honours usual on such occasions, the band playing the dead march, a firing part of 13 men and sergeant in change of Lieutenant A P Woods, firing a round of shots over the remains as they lay in the grave; the last post was sounded in solemn form. The deceased had 14 years service, and was engaged with his battalion in the Boer War’.

Birr Military Cemetery, the burial place of Private William Ennis.

John Ennis

John was born in Hong Kong (though his service papers say Dublin), circa 1875. He enlisted for service in the Leinster Regiment at Dublin on 1 June 1893. He had previous service in the 5th (militia) Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He served in the Second Boer War in South Africa with the 2nd Battalion, Leinster Regiment and received the Queen’s South Africa medal with the clasps ‘Cape Colony’, ‘Orange Free State’, ‘Transvaal’ and ‘South Africa 1901’ for his service.

John was discharged from the army on 31 May 1914 and returned home to Stoneybatter. He reenlisted in April 1915 in the 8th (Service) Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and was later transferred in August 1916 to the 2nd Garrison Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, and then to the Labour Corps in September 1918. For his war service he reieved the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

After the war John returned to Stoneybatter and raised his family here. He died on 2 June 1939.

Michael Ennis

Michael was born in Clarence Barracks, Southsea, Hampshire in 1883. He enlisted in the 5th (Militia) Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers at Curragh Camp in March 1898. In August he transferred for full time service into the 2nd Battalion, Leinster Regiment, just like his older brothers. He served in Canada, West Indies, South Africa. For his service in the Second Boer War he received the Queen’s South Africa medal with the clasps ‘Cape Colony’, ‘Orange Free State’ and ‘Transvaal’. Michael was posted to the army reserves in 1906, but was called back for service upon the outbreak of the Great War. He served in France with the 2nd Battalion, Leinster Regiment from August 1914 until January 1915. He was discharged from the army July 1915.

Michael returned to Stoneybatter and raised his family here with his wife Mary. He died on 7 August 1953 and is also buried in Grangegorman Military Cemetery.

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