British War Medal
Medal, British War, 1914-1918, GNR J. Connell
British War Medal, 1914-1918, silver, inscribed on edge with the name of the soldier it was awarded to. Awarded to “GR 5978 J Connell, RA. Pin bar is missing.
This medal was found by the donor, while digging in the garden of a house on Station Road, Ennis, in the late 1990s, and was donated to Clare Museum after the Claremen in the Great War exhibition, held at the museum to mark the 90th anniversary of the Armistice in 2008. The medal was the subject of a museum blog in 2016 and Ger Browne, historian came forward and identified GNR John Connell. In August 2021, Patricia Curren, came forward and stated that she was the granddaughter of Connell, having been made aware of the medal by a family friend who was carrying out family research. The following information was provided by Patricia:John Connell (O’Connell) was born in Cork Alley Lane on 19 May 1872. In the Census of 1911, John was living in Balloughboy, Doora, with his wife Maria, his sons Gerald age 2, Christopher aged 1 and his brother Christopher aged 30. By approx 1912, the family had moved to a new house in Cappabeg Barefield.John enlisted into Connaught Rangers on 9th September 1914 at the age of 41. He signed up for 1 year, having served in the Special Reserves previously. Be was married with 5 children. The day after be joined the Connaught Rangers, his youngest son, Alfred was born. This child would be Patricia’s father.Patricia referred to a statement in the Blog, where it states that he deserted from the Connaught Rangers. What actually happened was that be was late coming back from furlough, so he borrowed a bicycle without permission. As a result of this, he was dismissed from the Connaught Rangers. He then joined the Royal Garrison Artilery on 9 April 1915.John was posted to France in September 1915 and served there until October 1917. His army records indicate that he suffered a gunshot would around this time, but according to family recollection the gunshot wound he suffered was actually suffered at home in Barefield during Leave in 1917. John Connell went to the woods to shoot rabbits. However, the gun he was using (a double barrelled fouling piece) exploded in his left hand and blew off one of his fingers. Patricia’s uncles and father recalled their mother putting a coat over his shoulders and he walked from Cappabeg to the infirmary in Ennis, approximately 6 miles walk. He spent some time in hospital in Fermoy, where his index finger had to be amputated. He was discharged from the British Army in March of 1918. He was awarded a Pension of 8 pence/shillings per day.During his career, John was awarded three medals that the family know of. These were the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal. The British War Medal was the medal that was found in Station Court and is now held in the Clare Museum. John had four sons and one daughter Lilly, who emigrated to London in the early 1930’s. She brought a lot of the family photographs with her. Unfortunately her house in London was destroyed in the blitz, therefore there are no existing photographs of John. It is not known what happened to the other medals.Little is known of his post war life. Patricia’s brother recalled that his father told him that after John’s discharge, he we t to Clonmel, where he trained as a shoemaker. There were lots of lasts in the family home in Cappabeg. On 1 January 1936, John left Mass in Barefield in an agitated state. He went home and went to bed. He never woke up. He died from a brain haemmorage aged 63.