Fascinating tale of Kerry WWI chaplain on the front line

A photo of Duagh native Fr Jeremiah Galvin, who served as an Army Chaplain during the First World War
A photo of Duagh native Fr Jeremiah Galvin, who served as an Army Chaplain during the First World War

Fergus Dennehy

Fascinating details about the life of Duagh priest Fr Jeremiah Galvin, who was stationed as a chaplain near the front lines of the First World War in France, have been revealed.

The December 13 edition of The Kerryman published the contents of a 100-year-old letter – written in August 1918 – by a Fr Galvin to his father who was living in Duagh.

In the letter, Fr Galvin wrote about everything from the American soldiers' dislike of the smell of nearby cow dung heaps; giving confession and communion to the soldiers before they depart for battle; and the Irish struggle for independence back home.  

The appeal did not go unanswered, and this newspaper has been inundated with emails and phone calls to help fill in the gaps about Fr Galvin's life.

It transpires that Fr Galvin was born in March 1887 in Duagh to parents Patrick and Margaret, and he had six siblings: Timothy, Ellie, Mary, Margaret, Denis and Hannah.

He is believed to have ministered in the St Laurence O'Toole Church in Oakland, where he became an Army Chaplain, thus setting in motion his time in the First World War.

Judging by the numerous reports, it seems Fr Galvin survived the war, retiring in 1939 and returning to live in Ireland, where he remained until his death in a nursing home in Clonakilty in February, 1966, at the age of 79. His brother, Denis Galvin, owned a pub called 'The Castle Bar' in Listowel in what is now O'Mahony's butchers - the building where the letter was found, years later, by Kilflynn man John O'Mahony when he purchased the  building.

Kerryman

News