Private Patrick Delaney

Co. Kilkenny

The story of a forgotten soldier

This is the story of Patrick Delaney, an ordinary man. For his own reasons, Patrick chose to serve in the British Army in World War One. His story is similar to the tragedy that befell so many others that served in the "Great" War.

His service was marked by extreme hardship- wounds, punishment, trench warfare. Yet he endured and proved himself to be a brave, resilient and dutiful man.  It was this sense of duty that ultimately led to him making the greatest of all sacrifices on foreign fields.

May he and his comrades in arms rest in peace.

  • Patrick Delaney was born in 1883 (around the 23rd of April) and lived in Ballingarry, County Tipperary. 
  • He moved to Maudlin Street, Kilkenny with his four brothers and his parents. 
  • Three of his brothers also served in the British army during World War One (Edward with the Welsh Regiment, James and John with the Royal Irish Regiment). William did not serve.
  • Before enlisting, Patrick Delaney worked as a farm labourer.

Ballingarry, Co. Tipperary

The site in Maudlin Street where the Delaney's home once stood

Military Career

  • Patrick enlisted in Carlow on the 24th of January 1914.
  • He was posted to the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
  • He attended a musketry course from the 15th of May to the 24th of June.
  • On the 21st of September 1914, Patrick was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and left for France.
  • Patrick would have joined the battalion before the Battle of Messines (12 October - 2nd November 1914)


There were a number of forms completed when a soldier enlisted. 

Unfortunately, many of these documents are quite damaged so there is much information that is lost.

This document is a type of contract completed by Patrick Delaney.

In this, we can see his Oath of Allegiance to the crown.

A medical assessment was carried out on new soldiers to ensure that they were fit for duty. 

Patrick was 5'10". He had a good pulse rate and perfect vision. 

He was left handed and had a small scar under his left nipple. The story of how he got his scar will remain a mystery.  

The British Army not only wanted soldiers that were fit for duty, they also had to be of good character. 

A character reference was completed for Patrick Delaney. 

He worked for a farm labourer for four or five years on and off. 

His employer describes him as obliging and industrious. 

The Royal Dublin Fusiliers

  • Royal Dublin Fusiliers was an infantry regiment of the British Army.
  • The regiment was created on 1st of July 1881 by the amalgamation of the Royal Madras Fusiliers and the Royal Bombay Fusiliers.
  • The motto of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers was "Spectamur agendo” meaning “Let us be judged by our deeds”
  • The 2nd Battalion, which Patrick was posted to, was nicknamed ‘The Old Toughs’

  • The 2nd Battalion was based in Bordon Barracks in Gravesend which is now a supermarket. 
  • At the start of the war, the British War Office feared that there would be a German invasion of Britain, so the 2nd Battalion of the RDF was kept at home to defend Britain
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Patrick was slightly wounded by grenade splinters to his right cheek and behind his ear during a tactical exercise in the field. He was admitted to the 18th General Hospital, Étaples on the 15th of May 1915.

In January 1916, he was wounded in action with a gunshot wound to the head. He returned to duty the next day.

This is the report regarding Patrick's injury during his training exercise. 

One witness claims that Patrick is not to blame. 

The court ruled that the injury was accidental and not due to negligence. 

The Second Battle of Ypres (22 April – 25 May 1915)

This battle was the only major attack launched by the Germans on the Western Front during 1915. 

It was used as a diversion for the Allied Forces from the Eastern Front as Germany concentrated on Russia. It is also marked as the first use of chlorine gas by the Germans on the Western Front. 

The veil of mist that spread from the German lines clogged the Allied trenches and killed many men within ten minutes of it reaching the front line. Those who did not die were temporarily blinded and disorientated. The 2nd Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers experienced this horror first hand. 

As the novelty of this chemical warfare began to wear off, the tide turned on the Germans. They instead turned to bombing the town of Ypres. 

Temporarily blinded soldiers following the Second Battle of Ypres

Field Punishment number one

In November 1915, Patrick was sentenced to 28 days of Field Punishment 1 for being absent without leave.

His reasons for being absent are unknown. Perhaps it was an act of protest, fear or he was suffering from shell shock.

  • Field Punishment Number 1 consisted of the convicted man being shackled in irons and secured to a fixed object, such as a gun wheel or a post. 
  •  So cruel was this punishment that his feet were tied just above the ground, so that he could not properly hold his own weight. This punishment was often referred to as “crucifixion”. 
  • This lasted for several hours a day and usually for about 28 days. 
  • The men were left out in all types of weather.  As Patrick was sentenced to this punishment in November, he undoubtedly faced harsh conditions.
  • The men were sometimes left within range of enemy lines.

Artist BOB KERR's Depiction of field punishment one 

This torture has been described as punishment you might expect from your worst enemy.

Not from your own brothers. 

The Battle of the somme

Soldiers at the Somme (possibly on July 1st)

During the first day at the Somme, the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers was part of the second wave of attack and 325 soldiers out of 503 were killed or wounded. 

Private Patrick Delaney was killed in action on the 1st of July 1916. 

He was buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery, Colincamps, Somme, France.

Sucrerie Military Cemetery

Sucerie Military Cemetery

Private Patrick Delaney's grave

Placing Kilkenny soil on Patrick's grave

A moment of silence for a fallen Kilkenny son

Sucerie Military Cemetery

Laying a plaque given to me by Patrick's grandnephew


After his death, Patrick's medals would have been sent to his family. 

 He was due to receive the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 

These medals were awarded together and dubbed Pip, Squeak and Wilfred respectively, inspired by comic book characters of the same name.

The 1914 Star

Awarded to those served on the campaign in France and Belgium between the 5th Aug and 22nd Nov. 1914.

The 1914-1915 Star was not awarded to those who received the 1914 Star.

The British War Medal

This was awarded to those who served with the British Forces in the First World War during 1914-1918.

The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

The Victory Medal

It was awarded to those who served with the British Forces in the First World War from 1914–19 but was never awarded singly.

A Medal Mix-up

  • At least five men by the name Patrick Delaney left Kilkenny to fight in World War One.
  • Patrick’s mother was accidentally sent the medals of one of these men who died two years after her son and also served with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
  • However, she did not know this and thought the medals might have belonged to her son James who was residing in Glasgow, Scotland and had not yet received his own medals.
  • She forwarded the medals on to James who, realising they were not his own, returned them to the War Office.

"History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul."

~Lord Acton: British Historian

(January 10th 1834 - June 19th 1902)

Why did I apply?

I heard about this project from Ms. Mullally (Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School, Waterford). She is an inspirational teacher with an infectious passion for history.

History has always been a subject which I have enjoyed. From the Romans to the Second World War, from the Middle Ages to the Moon Landing. 

When studying military history, people can become entangled in the precise details of battles, the weaponry used or the world leaders at the time of conflict. We often forget about the ordinary soldiers. 

History contains countless individuals that have merely become a wave in the sea of gravestones, many without even a name. These men had family, friends, and a life before the war. They are not just a number in the death toll. Their untold stories remind us that history is about ordinary people and the events that shaped their lives. I applied for this unique project to tell the story of a forgotten man. 

For here in this graveyard, it's still no-man's land...

Once I received the name of my soldier, my first response was to listen to The Green Fields of France.

As I listened to the emotive and haunting lyrics, I wondered what happened to my soldier, Patrick Delaney.

After his sacrifice, had he been reduced to just "a stranger without even a name, enshrined forever behind a glass frame in an old photograph torn battered and stained and fading to yellow in a brown leather frame"

My Research

Throughout my research, I was very lucky to be given the chance to work with two enthusiastic historians: Bernie Kirwan (Kilkenny City) and Martin Maher (Ballingarry, Tipperary). I am extremely grateful for the guidance and assistance they provided for me. 

Unfortunately, I could not locate the 1901 and 1911 census records for the Delaney family. The Kilkenny War Dead and Kilkenny Families in the Great War were excellent starting points for my research. 

I was delighted to find a series of army documentation on These allowed me to learn more about Patrick but also enhance the information I had already collected. 

My research is far from complete. At present, I am trying to find out more about Patrick's brother James, who moved to Scotland, in hopes of learning what happened to him once he left home, there may even be relatives of his still living in the area! 

The National Launch

On Saturday the 7th of March, thirty two students with thirty two different stories met at Collin's Barracks for the National Launch.

The Leinster county representatives share their soldiers' stories.

Emily Boyne (Wexford), Amy Mackey (Waterford) and Béibhinn Breathnach (Kilkenny).

Meeting Patrick's Relatives

I was fortunate to be able to meet relatives of my soldier. I was put in contact with them through Bernie Kirwan who was busily researching the family in Kilkenny. 

Michael and John Brennan are the grand-nephews of Patrick. Their mother was the daughter of Patrick's brother, John. 

Like so many other relatives of World War One soldiers, Michael and Pauline Brennan were unaware of the military involvement of the Delaney brothers- John, James, Patrick, and Ned. 

Edward (Ned) Delaney never married. He worked as a farm labourer for the McEvoy family in Kilkenny. When he died, they took responsibility for his burial. He was buried in St. Kieran's Cemetery, Hebron Road, Kilkenny. 

Coincidentally, John Delaney was buried in the same graveyard, only sixteen graves away. 

As a result of this project, Michael Brennan found the grave of his grandparents and his grand-uncle. 

Michael at his grandparent's (John Delaney) grave with a plaque commemorating Patrick.

Michael at his grand-uncle's grave (Edward Delaney).

John and Ned survived the killing fields of France and are now buried in their local graveyard. Unbelievably, they are only buried sixteen graves apart. 

Patrick, however, is buried far from his brothers in foreign soil. 

The South East Launch

On Monday 20th April, in the Medieval Museum, Waterford, the stories of four soldiers were told, Private Patrick Delaney among them. This event was organised by Niamh Crowley (HTAI- Secretary Waterford). 

Carlow, Waterford, Wexford, and Kilkenny were represented. We each made a presentation on our soldier. Friends, family and others with an interest in history greatly supported the event. 

Patrick's grand-nephew, Michael, and wife Pauline with myself.

Presentation in action.

Meeting President Michael D. Higgins

It was privilege to meet President Michael D. Higgins before we departed on the 26th of June. Our group was warmly received. The President gave an inspiring speech in which he thanked us for helping to write these soldiers back into history.