12 Private Ryans found in medal search

The two First World War medals found in a jacket left at a charity shop in Co Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

Painstaking research being carried out to track down the descendants of a soldier awarded two First World War medals has uncovered 12 Patrick Ryans who served in the 1st Battalion of the Munster Fusiliers.

Genealogist Margaret Murphy has been trawling through records trying to identify the former owner, Private Patrick Ryan, who enlisted in the 1st Battalion of the Munster Fusiliers at the outbreak of the war in 1914 and whose medals ended up in the pocket of tweed jacket handed in to a charity shop in West Cork.

Her research has shown there were 12 Patrick Ryans who served in the battalion and she has so far managed to discount four of those men from her list.

Margaret is based at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre in Co Cork, which is leading the search for Private Ryan’s relatives, and is being aided by military historian Kevin Tomlinson.

Heritage centre manager Terri Kearney said that one potential lead had come from a person who believes they know the family who may have possessed the tweed jacket in which the medals were found.

The medals were found in the jacket when it and other clothes were left outside a charity shop in the village of Kealkil, near Bantry.

Ms Kearney said they were making inquiries about this and believes that while the true Private Ryan may have come from outside Co Cork, there has to be a local connection.

It was originally believed Private Ryan, who survived his postings to the aborted Gallipoli campaign and to the Western Front, came from Co Tipperary.

However, the researchers are not sure if that is accurate and say he may have hailed from Co Limerick.

We get people coming forward with clues and unfortunately we’re discounting them one by one,” Ms Kearney said.

The charity shop is putting the two medals on display today in the hope they will jog some locals memories.

Charity shop treasurer Ed Smith said they were preparing a lot of information about the medals and what they were awarded for.

“We will put this up on a big notice board in the shop,” he said.

Meanwhile, Steve Roffe, the volunteer worker who found the medals in the jacket pocket has been so fascinated by the case he has been in contact with military historians himself.

“There’s a museum room in Fort Camden, Crosshaven and its curator Gerry Conroy has sourced some military records from Britain which we hope to have shortly. Hopefully they might give us a lead,” Mr Roffe said.

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