To celebrate the publication of my latest book “Birr Military Cemetery”, I thought I would write a special themed post to mark the occasion and look at some of the soldiers not buried in the cemetery! It is easy to forget that that when new regiments took up occupancy in Birr Barracks detachments were often sent to smaller barracks in the surrounding environs, such as Tullamore, Portumna and Loughrea.
Recently while surveying St Catherine’s Cemetery in Tullamore I uncovered two of these soldiers who died while on detachment to Tullamore Barracks.
The first soldier is Private Thomas Allen, 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers who died on 6 July 1888, aged 31. He died in Tullamore Barracks as a result of cirrhosis of the liver, Corporal James Carroll of the Medical Corps was present at his death.
The Royal Scots Fusiliers spent the year of 1888 quartered in Birr with a recorded strength of 662 soldiers. In addition to Tullamore there were some additional detachments in Loughrea, Portumna and The Curragh. The Army Medical Department report for 1888 notes that the invalidity rate was quite low (3.5 per 1000 men).
The memorial Private Allan takes the form of a Latin cross made of limestone and is identical in style to other Royal Scots Fusiliers memorials in Birr Military Cemetery, which suggest this was also made in Birr and transported to Tullamore. The inscription reads:
PTE THOMAS ALLAN
A COY 1ST BN R S FUSILIERS
The next soldier is Private Alfred Nidd, 1st Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment who died on 19 March 1892, aged 28 years. He died in Tullamore Barracks as a result of tubercule of the lungs. Interestingly his death certificate records that he was from Sheffield, England. His memorial takes the form of a decorative ringed cross with an I H S Christogram in the centre. The memorial is made of limestone. The inscription is on the base and reads:
IN MEMORY OF
PRIVATE ALFRED NIDD
1ST YORK AND LANCASTER REGT
(DIED IN TULLAMORE)
19TH MARCH 1892 AGED 28 YEARS
ERECTED BY HIS COMRADES
While no headstone was located, a newspaper article in the Midland Tribune on 2 April 1892 records the military funeral of another soldier of the York and Lancaster Regiment:
‘Military Funeral, On Monday last the remains of Private Webster, of the York and Lancaster Regiment, were interred at Clonminch Cemetery Tullamore, with full military honors. The band of the regiment from Birr was present, and a large number of the inhabitants of the town attended, as a mark of respect to the detachment, who are, owning to their excellent conduct, highly popular with the people of the town. Captain Broughton was in command of the funeral party’.
The York and Lancaster Regiment spent eight and half months of 1892 quartered in Birr and three and half months in Cork with a recorded strength of 592 soldiers.
This post hopefully, even if briefly, illustrates the importance of the bigger picture beyond the soldiers just buried in Birr Military Cemetery.