Free State Soldier (Sergeant) James Conway

Free State Soldier (Sergeant) James Conway (aged 23) of 19 Clancy Street, Fermoy (Clancy Street, Fermoy)

Date of incident: 18 May 1922

Sources: SS, 26 May 1922; MSPC/3D236 (Military Archives); Death Certificate (Fermoy District, Union of Fermoy), 18 May 1922.

Note: Sergeant James Conway (born in 1899) of the 40th Infantry Battalion was killed at about 9 p.m. on Thursday, 18 May 1922, when by accident he was shot dead by his own wife Ellen (‘Nellie’) at their home on Clancy Street in Fermoy. He was found to have been guilty of ‘serious negligence and misconduct’ because he was not authorised to carry a revolver—the weapon fired by his wife. She had not realised that the .45 Webley revolver was loaded when she pointed it at him (‘for a joke’, as she later wrote) and pulled the trigger, hitting him in the face and killing him instantly. The coroner’s inquest was held the next day. Her husband was a native of Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow. She had been married to him only since 24 April 1922—for less than a month. Before her marriage she had worked as a housekeeper for her aged mother and earned a small weekly sum of about 6s. by washing clothes. Ellen Conway’s application for a pension or gratuity was unsuccessful. She did receive a dependant’s allowance of £1 8s. a week from 28 April 1923 to 16 November 1923. See MSPC/3D236 (Military Archives).

James Conway was in 1911 one of the twelve children (thirteen born) of the agricultural labourer Peter Conway and his wife Anne, who resided at house 5 in the townland of Deerpark in the parish of Baltinglass in County Wicklow, of which all members of the family were natives. Of their twelve living children in 1911, six (three daughters and three sons) co-resided with them. The resident children ranged in age from 5 to 25 years old. James Conway (then aged 11) was the second son still living at home. At the time of the 1901 census, as many as ten of the Conways’ children (six daughters and four sons) were living at home at house 4 in Deerpark (Baltinglass). They ranged in age from 1 to 17. James Conway was then their youngest child (aged 1). 

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