Memories of WW11

A Killimor Nurse

Liam Ryan

The Slough Observer reported at the weekend at some length and with much affection, on the death in nearby Maidenhead of Kitty Hanrahan née Muldoon, who, for many years, was matron of St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Slough.  She was 79 and a native of Killimor, Co. Galway.  Having qualified as a nurse, she came to Britain at the beginning of World War 11 and was based at Dulwich Hospital which cared for many of those wounded at Dunkirk and later for victims of the blitz.  One night when she was on duty, the hospital itself suffered a direct hit and went on fire.  She helped evacuate the patients.

After the war, she returned to Ireland – worked at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, before being appointed district nurse for Achill Island in Co. Mayo.

Having married in Ireland in 1949, she, her husband William, and their three children moved to Slough in 1957 and settled there.  The town remembers her as the kindly matron at St. Joseph’s School.

The debt which Britain owes to Irish nurses – especially in the war years and the two decades which followed – is immense and, I’ve often felt, has never been properly acknowledged.

The splendid city of Manchester is, however, about to make an acknowledgement – not just of Irish nurses but of the contribution which the Irish at large have made to Greater Manchester.  It will be formally done with the City Council unveiling a plaque at Walker’s Croft, near Victoria Station, on August 20.  Ironically, many of the Irish who died in Manchester, victims of the Great Famine are buried in that part of the city.

The above extract is from an unnamed newspaper or journal, commenting on articles in British newspapers.  Courtesy of Seán Ryan.

War Memories

The Day of the “Bomb”.

It was the early 1940s.  I was out in the yard at about 2 pm while the other family members were finishing dinner in the kitchen.  There was a strange noise on the roof of the turf shed.  A snake-like object was writhing and twisting and making a terrible racket on the corrugated iron roof.  I thought “so that is what a bomb is”.  Bombs and guns and warships were the major topics of conversation in those years.

There was another rope-like object barely outside the yard wall, and a third shorter one, trailing from what looked like a huge, greeny-blue balloon in the sky, over the river to the right of the bridge (Hearnesbrook Bridge).  I did not have enough sense to be afraid, but the animals were terrified.  Our two dogs were whimpering under the horse-cart.  The cows, cattle, two horses and the donkey ran from the fields round the house into the front field, snorting and blowing, eyes staring and tails straight up.  Mother picked me up and ran back into the kitchen.

The “Bomb” drifted, slowly over the bridge towards Hara’s house.  Father, who was the Local Security Force Officer, decided to report the matter, but when he arrived into Killimor, all the people were out looking up at the object.  The Local Security Force and Gardaí followed it on bicycles for a bit.  Eventually it got trapped in some trees near Woodford.  We were so disappointed that that did not happen in the Hearnesbrook trees!

The following week The Connacht Tribune said the “Bomb” was a Barrage Balloon that had broken free from some city in the north of Ireland, probably Derry.  These balloons, made from sturdy material were fixed to the ground with long cables.  Their primary function was to prevent low-flying aircraft from accessing an area.  Occasionally the odd balloon escaped, and sailed away, as happened in the case of the Barrage Balloon seen over Killimor.

The above article was written by Liam Ryan formerly of Killimor.

This page was added on 16/02/2017.

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