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World War I medal returned to Maugherow man's family



A WORLD WAR 1 medal belonging to a Maugherow man who served with the Connaught Rangers, which had been lost for generations, has been returned to his family.

In a remarkable twist of fate, the woman who found the medal as an eight-year-old girl in Lissadell Woods used the internet to track down the family and last week she travelled from England to return it to them.

The silver medal was awarded to Patrick Leydon sometime between 1915 and 1917, the years he served in the Connaught Rangers. He was discharged in 1917 after a gunshot wound in a battle in the North of France necessitated the amputation of his left left.

The surgery was carried out in a field hospital somewhere in France and Patrick returned home to work as a gate-keeper at Oxfield House, owned by the Gore-booth family. It's thought that it was while working in Lissadell Woods he must have somehow lost the war medal. Patrick died in 1962 aged 75 years.

Fast-forward to 1981 and eightyear-old Oonagh Finan, visiting her Sligo relations with her father Jim, a native of Harmony Hill, is playing in Lissadell Woods when she stumbles across the mud-covered medal.

"It was the size of an old half-crown and was completely covered in mud and leaves. I really don't know how I managed to spot it, but as a young girl it was like finding a piece of treasure. I took it home and cleaned it up, and I suppose I knew it was a valuable war medal. It had numbers and inscriptions very clearly marked on it," Oonagh recalls.

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Initally, the young girl kept her prized medal on her dressing table, but as the years went by it was put into a shoebox at the back of a closet. Then, about five years ago, Oonagh thought it was time the medal she had cherished since childhood should be returned to its rightful owners, so she had it restored to gleaming condition and posted the details on the internet.

Unknown to her, Patrick Leydon's grandson Michael and Michael's son Gavin had for years been researching Patrik's life, particulary the two years he spent in the Connaught Rangers. They had no idea he had been presented when message found they a family they came with heirloom. knew across a medal, they Oonagh's had but its And happy the conclusion story finally last reached Friday when especially Oonagh, from who her had home travelled in England for the purpose, met up with members of the Leydon family to hand over the medal. "It's an amazing story," beamed Michael Leydon, who now resides in Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan. "My grandfather died when I was only 13, but I had been very close to him. I spent all my summers in Maugherow and I remember him regaling us with stories of the war years. But we never knew about this medal. To have it back in the family after all these years is remarkable. We're absolutely thrilled."

Another remarkable twist to this fascinating story is that Oonagh Finan's grandfather, Paddy Gilmartin served his time as an apprecentice carpenter at the Lissadell Estate around the same time as Patrick Leydon worked there, so it is practically certain the two men were friends.