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  • Writer's pictureStephen Callaghan

War Memorials of St Brendan's Church, Birr (Part 1)

There was a significant contribution of men from the town of Birr, King’s County during the Great War. The true extent is not fully known, but at least 100 men from the town and surrounding environs died. 100 years ago work was under way to commemorate the parishioners of St Brendan’s Church of Ireland church, who paid the ultimate sacrifice. This would take the form a brass tablet war memorial bearing 21 names. In addition to this war memorial the mother of two causalities paid for at least one of three stained glass windows to commemorate her sons Henry and Thomas who had died.

The war memorials were unveiled on 24 April 1921. The memorial windows were executed by Craftworkers, Harcourt Street, Dublin. They had been designed by William McBride. The western window depicts Faith, Hope and Charity. The middle of the three windows depicts Archangel Michael with a kneeling angle either side of him, the eastern window depicts War, Justice and Victory and bears the text "In Loving Memory of Adam Thomas and Henry Theophilus Kelly sons of Thomas and Fanny Mitchell of Walcot Parsonstown".

Upon their unveiling the memorials were dedicated by the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr. Thomas Sterling Berry. There were numerous hymns sang during the ceremony and at its conclusion the twenty one names on the memorial were read aloud by Rector.

Henry Theophilus Kelly Mitchell

Henry was born on 12 December 1891, he was the son of Thomas Mitchell and Fanny Mitchell (née Mitchell) of 19 Oxmantown Mall, Birr. Thomas was a solicitor.

Henry was educated in Campbell College, Belfast. After officer training at Sandhurst he was commissioned in the 1st Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment as a Second Lieutenant on 13 March 1912. He was temporarily promoted to Lieutenant on 27 December 1914. During the Great War he saw service in India. He died on 11 November 1915 from a fatal riding accident. He is commemorated on the Delhi Memorial, India.

Thomas Mitchell

Thomas was born in on 8 December 1882. Thomas was admitted to Sandhurst College for officer training in January 1901. He completed his training in December. He was commissioned into the Royal Sussex Regiment as a Second Lieutenant. Promoted to Captain on 2 February 1911 and eventually reached the rank of Major.

Thomas married Elizabeth Violet Harold of 15, Goldington Avenue, Bedford. Major Mitchell was sent to Mesopotamia in January 1916. He died on 12 April 1917 from wounds received in action. He was buried in a Baghdad Cemetery, Iraq.

Faith, Hope and Charity.
Archangel Michael with kneeling angels.
War, Justice and Victory.

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