Items of Interest

The extensive collection of military artefacts, loans and recent donations includes; the flag of the Dillon Regiment who fought at the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745, the first ever awarded Victoria Cross of Ensign Lucas, sword of Myles Keogh born in Co Carlow who died at the Battle of Little Big horn with General Custer, the hat of Major General Patrick Cleburne who fought with the confederate army during the American Civil War, Christmas cards and chocolate boxes from the trenches of WWI, the hat Padraig Pearse worn during the 1916 Rising, the flag of the Irish Republic from 1916 and a child’s gas mask from 1940’s.

69th New York Regiment World War One Recruiting Poster

The 69th Regiment was formed in 1851 and became famous for its exploits in the American Civil War. Initially commanded by Colonel Michael Corcoran, it fought at the first major battle of the war, Bull Run. It became the 1st Regiment of Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher’s renowned Irish Brigade, fighting at most of the major battles between 1861 and 1865, such as Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. As can be seen from the recruiting poster, the Regiment was still predominantly Irish in World War I. Fighting in many of the crucial battles in France in 1918, including the Marne, St Mihiel and Argonne, they sustained heavy casualties. Once again, in Word War II, the Regiment fought in the Pacific and saw action at such notorious locations as Saipan and Okinawa. The Regiment survives today in its traditional form as a National Guard unit, and continues to maintain strong links with Ireland, which include leading the St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York each year.

Hat of Commandant General Padraig Pearse

The Irish Volunteer Hat worn by Comdt General P.H. Pearse when he surrendered to the British on 29 April 1916, and again on the morning of his death. It was donated by Mr Eamonn de Valera. Born on 10 November 1879, Pearse founded St Enda’s College in 1908 to provide a medium for children to learn about both the Irish language and culture. Following this, he played a key role in the planning and organisation of the 1916 Easter Rising, of which he became the leader. Setting up his headquarters in the GPO during Easter Week, he was subsequently executed for his part in the insurrection.

Colonel William Ferguson Uniform

Perhaps one of the least known aspects of Irish involvement in foreign wars is the contribution made to the South American wars of liberation. Colonel Ferguson is a fine example of the huge numbers of Irishmen who volunteered to fight there in the first quarter of the 19th Century. Ferguson fought with Simon Bolivar, known as the ‘Liberator’. Bolivar liberated Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela from Spanish rule, as well as having a new Country, Bolivia, named in his honour. Colonel Ferguson quickly identified with the ideals that Bolivar represented, and he was willing to lay down his life for him. Ferguson died defending the door to Bolivar’s chamber during an assassination attempt. The Museum also holds Ferguson’s letters and diary in the Collections.

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