Intrigue growing over life of Private Ryan and his medals

March 27th, 2019 5:50 PM

By Brian Moore

Private Ryan's medals were found in Kealkil charity shop.

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Private William Patrick Ryan’s World War One medals are causing quite a stir as the Kealkil Charity Shop volunteers have discovered more information about the soldier and his medals.

Private Ryan’s medals were found in an old jacket that was left at the charity shop back in November 2018.

Steve Roffe, a charity shop volunteer and the person who found the medals told The Southern Star that more information about the Royal Munster Fusilier private has been found, thanks to British military historian, Richard Moles.

‘We now know that when the war was over Private Ryan went back again to the battlefields as part of the Labour Corp to help clear the areas of unexploded shells and of course the grisly job of finding and burying the dead,’ Steve said.

However, while we know that Private Ryan, as a soldier serving with the Royal Munster Fusiliers, would most likely have seen action at Gallipoli, the carnage of the Somme in 1916 on the Western Front and the slaughter at Passchendaele, no other details of his military service can be found due to an incident 20 years following the end of the ‘war to end all wars’.

‘We now know, thanks again to the work of Richard Moles, that Private Ryan served with the 1st Battalion of the Munster when they were stationed at Aghada in 1915,’ Steve said.

‘But because of bomb damage during the Blitz on London in 1940, which destroyed part of the War Office records section, we may never know much more.’

However, the search continues with a team at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre working to find if Private Ryan has any connection at all to West Cork and perhaps shed some light on how the medals came to be discovered at the charity shop in Kealkil.

Ed Smith, treasurer at the Carrianass Castle Community Group, said: ‘When we found the medals they didn’t have their ribbons and this was something we wanted to rectify.

‘So thanks to Robert Fennell from Goleen we were able to re-attach the correct ribbons, but the search continues and we will be travelling to Camden Fort Meagher to speak with the fort’s curator, Jerry Conroy, who is also working to find out more about Private Ryan.’   

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