Wednesday 21 February 2018

Hunt is on for rightful owners of war medals

The bronze WWI ‘Victory’ medal and silver Boer War medal found in Wicklow
The bronze WWI ‘Victory’ medal and silver Boer War medal found in Wicklow

Myles Buchanan

TWO war medals from the Boer War and World War I were discovered in an old cash register and now the person in their possession would like to reunite them with the descendants of the rightful owners.

The medals were unearthed in the late 1970s when the Quinn family were moving out of the public house now known as the Old Forge in Wicklow town. Both medals were found resting at the back of an old till that was being cleared up.

Efforts to track down the owners of the medals proved fruitless, though the National Library was able to throw light on at least one of the soldiers awarded the honours.

'We would just like to find the descendants and return what is rightfully theirs, especially given that this is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. We assume the men must have been from Wicklow or had local connections given that the medals were discovered in Wicklow town,' said the person currently in custody of the medals.

The first Victory medal from World War I bears the name Private TJ Brennan of the Gloucestershire Regiment, Reg number 3966. The Victory medal was issued to all those who received the 1914 Star or the 1914-1915 Star, and to most of those who were awarded the British War Medal.

The second medal is silver and relates to the Boer War. It has a picture of Queen Victoria on the back and has the inscription 'The Relief of Ladysmith.' It was awarded to Corporal M. Reilly, First Connacht Rangers, Reg number 4148.

Soon after the breakout of the Second Boer War in 1899, the Boer army laid siege to Ladysmith in South Africa. Staff at the National Library in Dublin carried out some research and found that Corporal Reilly was killed in battle and buried in Ladysmith, meaning the medal was moist likely awarded to him posthumously.

By bringing the medals to the attention of the Wicklow and Bray People, their current owner hopes to return them to the families of Private Brennan and Corporal Reilly.

'It would be nice to trace the medals back to the descendants of the two soldiers. Obviously they are 100 years old and over but hopefully someone might know something about them.'

Anyone with information relating to the two medals can contact the Wicklow People office at (0404) 67004.

Wicklow People

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