• Stephen Callaghan

The Tragic End of a Crimea Veteran - Patrick Walsh

On Saturday 18 April 1903, The Leinster Leader reported the 'Strange Suicide' of a Crimea veteran, Patrick Walsh who had shot himself through the heart. The article reported that the shocking occurrence had taken place in Banagher, King's County (Offaly).


The article reports that the veteran had taken his own life on 11 April. Patrick's stepson, John Silk, who was living with him at the time had heard a loud noise come from Patrick's room around 6:30pm. Investigating the noise, John found Patrick on the ground in a pool of his own blood, still alive, but he died shortly thereafter in the arms of John. It was found that Patrick had shot himself with a muzzle loading shotgun, a boot lace tied around the trigger, the other end tied to a bed.


The article mentions Patrick's service in the Crimea, and that he had been quite active plying boats on the River Shannon and was well known to tourists. After an inquest it was found that Patrick had been suffering from debility and insomnia and that he had shot himself while temporarily insane.


Further research on Patrick fills in some details about his life and service in the army. He was born in the parish of Rynagh, Banagher around 1833 and enlisted for service in the 89th Regiment of Foot at Dublin on 1 November 1850, 2 months shy of 18 years of age.


In a few short years of service he was promoted to Sergeant but reverted to Private having been arrested. He was transferred to the 38th Regiment of Foot in August 1857, and again gained promotion to Sergeant in a number of years, but was reverted to Private after having been found drunk and absent from his post.


He was transferred to the 75th Regiment of Foot on 25 May 1861 and was promoted to Corporal but was reverted to Private after having broken out of barracks. By April 1868 he had worked his way back to Sergeant but only to revert back to Private a year later after having been found drunk.


Patrick's foreign service included 2 years in Gibraltar, 1 year and 250 days in the Crimea, 4 years and 251 days in India, 2 years and 127 days in China and 208 days in Singapore. For his service in the Crimean War (1853-56) and Indian Mutiny (1857) he received the Crimea medal with the clasp 'Sevastopol', the Turkish Crimea medal and India Mutiny medal with the clasps 'Delhi' and 'Relief of Lucknow', the latter clasp representing his presentence at the capture of Lucknow.


Private Walsh was discharged in October 1871 after nearly 21 years of service with the colours. He returned to his native Banagher and had a family there, the 1901 census records him living in 3, Main Street, a War Department caretaker, with his wife Mary Anne and children, James, Rynagh, Patrick, Catherine and step son John Silk.


Patrick's funeral was largely attended with many people coming from Birr, he was almost certainly interred in Saint Rynaghs Old Graveyard Banagher.

St Rynaghs Old Graveyard, Banagher.


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