...and the blood of children ran through the streets without fuss, like children's blood.
Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973)


Major W. D. Hamilton, one of the surviving officers and Chairman of the Organising Committee, opened proceedings and then invited Lord Castletown of Upper Ossory,[1] former Commander of the regiment, to perform the unveiling. In his address, Lord Castletown (pictured above) outlined the history of the 4th battalion which, following the creation of the Irish Free State, had been disbanded in 1922. The latter act he condemned as one "of deep obloquy". He also referred to the recent Armistice Day ceremonies when "every town, village and house was scarlet with poppies" and concluded by mentioning the "ghastly ordeal" of war, and the communal sorrow for "those who were with us but have gone and left us". Then, amid great applause, he unveilved the Memorial.


Monsignor Michael J. Murphy - former Professor of Theology at Carlow College, Parish Priest of Portlaoise for forty years from 1901, and Chaplain to the 4th Leinster Regiment until it was disbanded - blessed the Memorial, and the ceremony ended with The Last Post and a funeral march played by the British Legion Band.

As can be seen in the picture above, a fountain once adorned the Memorial. I can't ever recall seeing it in working order, but I do remember it full of ice in winter and stagnant water in the summertime, with just one of the small cups still attached. Note also the maple leaf design; a reference to the fact that one of the battalions of the Leinsters had its origins in Canada. Following British Army reforms in 1881, the battalion moved to Ireland where the Leinster Regiment's depot was established at Crinkill Barracks, near Birr.

The man standing on Dr. Murphy's right is Major Count John William Rivallon de Poher de la Poer (1882-1939), one of seven surviving officers present on the day. He held the office of Justice of the Peace for County Waterford and also High Sheriff of the county.[2] The man on the Monsignor's left is another officer, Captain Count Richard Van Cutsem [3] and, to my knowledge, the bearded, sad-looking gentleman and the other people remain unidentified. The partially visible advertisement for Good Year Tyres belongs to Aldritt's Garage which stood on the site occupied today by a Chinese Restaurant and Bankz Hair Studio (the latter owned by Barbara Kavanagh née Aldritt).[4]

[1] Born Bernard Edward Barnaby FitzPatrick in London, His Lordship was, inter alia, Conservative MP for Portarlington in the 1880's and Chancellor of the Royal University of Ireland from 1906 to 1910. In his leisure time, he was a keen ornithologist, a writer and cultural enthusiast (surprisingly perhaps, a staunch supporter of the Irish language). Upon his death without issue at Grantstown Manor in 1937, the title Lord Castletown was discontinued. In 1965, his extensive archive was presented to the National Library of Ireland by his nephew.

[2] His home was a Gothic castle - Gurteen le Poer - in Kilsheelan near Clonmel. In 1998 it was bought by famous Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein and in December 2005 became the venue for rock singer Marilyn Manson's marriage - at midnight - to Dita von Teese.

[3] His wife was Mary Arnott, daughter of Sir John Alexander Arnott of the famous drapery store family and, for many years, Managing Director and Chairman of The Irish Times. I have been unable to confirm this but, given the military connection, I think it's reasonable to assume that Captain van Cutsem, of aristocratic Belgian extraction, was an ancestor of Major Nicholas Van Cutsem (childhood friend of Prince William who commanded the escort of mounted soldiers at the latter's wedding), not to mention the Major's niece and the Prince's goddaughter, three-year-old Grace van Cutsem, who almost stole the show as the newlyweds appeared on the balcony of Buckingham palace.

[4] Aldritt's was no ordinary garage. In 1908, Dublin-born Frank Aldritt set up his engineering works with the intention of building motor-cars. He was also interested in aviation and so started to build a monoplane. The engine was designed and built by Aldritt and his sons Frank, Louis and Joe, and the wing spars were made of bamboo poles which, according to who you believe, were either grown in Ballyfin or bought in a hardware shop in the town. In 1912, the story goes that, on The Great Heath of Maryborough, the plane, piloted by Frank, took off on its maiden flight but flew only a short distance. It was subsequently consigned to the rafters of Aldritt's workshop where, for many years, its visible propeller fired the imaginations of young lads coming from the nearby CBS school. Imagine my surprise, half a century after last seeing that propeller, when I learned - via a Russian aviation website - that the aircraft (minus its engine) still existed. And subsequent research revealed an even more fascinating account (with photographs) - http://www.writing.ie/tell-your-own-story/a-treasure-uncovered-in-east-sussex/ - by Joe Rogers, a Portlaoise man long living in England. 'The Maryborough Monoplane' can be seen today - by appointment - in the Filching Manor Museum near Polegate, East Sussex.