From Ken­mare to the WWI bat­tle­fields

Nephew talks of un­cle’s role as an army chap­lain on the Western Front

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - NEWS - By STEPHEN FERNANE

ONE of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary as­pects of WWI has been the dis­cov­ery of rel­a­tives that took part in one of his­tory’s blood­i­est con­flicts. Army chap­lain Rev Pa­trick Alphon­sus O’Sul­li­van from Ken­mare was in­volved in bat­tles along the Western Front from 1917 to 1918. Fr Pat’s in­volve­ment has now been made pub­lic thanks to his nephew, Pa­trick V O’Sul­li­van.

“We had al­ways known of Fr Pat’s in­volve­ment in the war. But the re­cent com­mem­o­ra­tions to mark the end of WWI prompted me to gather some in­for­ma­tion to­gether and put it out there,” Pa­trick said.

Fr Pat left Ken­mare for the dio­cese of New­cas­tle-upon-Tyne, where he was or­dained in June, 1914. On Novem­ber 13, 1917, he en­listed for ser­vice in the War where, ac­cord­ing to records archived from the Cork Branch Western Front As­so­ci­a­tion, Fr O’Sul­li­van was ‘gazetted’ into the army chap­laincy, 4th class army rank of cap­tain in Bel­gium.

Fr Pat came from a fam­ily of six brothers and one sis­ter, and he was born in Ken­mare in 1886. He is also from the pop­u­lar clan known lo­cally as ‘Gul­laba O’Sul­li­van’.

Ac­cord­ing to Pa­trick, when­ever Fr Pat was on leave from the War, he would dis­em­bark from Bri­tish war­ships sail­ing off the south­west coast. From here he would make his way to Ken­mare to visit fam­ily and friends via coal boats to Ken­mare Pier.

Fr Pat once re­turned home with a Ger­man hel­met and knife, which are still in the fam­ily’s pos­ses­sion to­day. Fr Pat was awarded with the stan­dard Bri­tish War Medal and Vic­tory Medal. Fol­low­ing the armistice of Novem­ber 11, 1918, Fr Pat re­turned to his par­ish work at St Bede’s Church in Carlisle. Both Fr Pat’s home ad­dress in Ken­mare and the Church’s ad­dress at St Bede’s are en­graved on his army in­dex card.

In Oc­to­ber 1927, Fr Pat was pro­moted to the po­si­tion of Rec­tor at St Mary’s in Pre­ston. Fol­low­ing his re­tire­ment, he re­turned to Ire­land to live in St Joseph’s nurs­ing home for re­tired priests in Beau­mont, Dublin.

Fr Pat cel­e­brated his Golden Ju­bilee on June 29, 1964, and died peace­fully on March 8, 1976. He is buried in the grounds of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Kil­mal­lock, County Lim­er­ick.

“We should be proud of our an­ces­try, re­gard­less of the opin­ions of the present. Knowl­edge of Fr Pat’s part in the War has been known to the fam­ily for a long time. But like many men from that time, they never spoke about the hor­rific things they saw. It’s nice that a cli­mate now ex­ists where we can com­mem­o­rate peo­ple like Fr Pat with pride and re­mem­ber them,” Pa­trick added.

Fr Pat is also a rel­a­tive of the late Mary C O’Connell, Noleen and Lily O’Sul­li­van, and for­mer Kerry foot­baller Mickey Ned O’Sul­li­van.

A cut-out from The Ker­ry­man of 1964 high­light­ing Fr Pat’s Golden Ju­bilee cel­e­bra­tion.

The Bri­tish War Medal and Vic­tory Medal be­long­ing to Fr Pat.

Rev Pa­trick O’Sul­li­van

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