National Army Soldier Gerald McKenna


National Army Soldier Gerald McKenna (aged 18) of 34 Connaught Street, Phibsborough, Dublin

Date of incident: 8 Aug. 1922

Sources: Irish Times, 14 Aug. 1922; II, 15 Aug. 1922; CE, 17 Aug. 1922; List of FSS Cork Civil War Deaths; Borgonovo (2011), 147, fn. 28; Keane (2017), 292-94; http://www.irishmedals.ie/National-Army-Killed.php (accessed 30 June 1922)


Note: Private Gerald McKenna was among a group of National Army Soldiers ‘killed at Cork’ who were buried on Monday, 14 August 1922, in the National Army Plot at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. He had served with the Dublin Guards Reserve. See II, 15 Aug. 1922; CE, 17 Aug. 1922. 

The ‘Irish Medals’ website dedicated in part to identifying National Army Soldiers killed during the Civil War reports the deaths of the brothers Gerald and Frederick McKenna, both residents of Dublin, who were ‘killed in action in [County] Cork’ on 8 August 1922. Their mother is said to have gone to a mortuary in Dublin to identify the body of only one of her sons, but when looking at other unidentified bodies, she found a second of her sons among them. See http://www.irishmedals.ie/National-Army-Killed.php (accessed 30 June 2017).

The source for this account must be the Irish Independent, which mentioned this bizarre incident when reporting on the collective Dublin military funeral of 14 August and the subsequent burials in Glasnevin: ‘Mrs McKenna [the grieving mother] was called upon to sustain a thoroughly unnerving ordeal in the mortuary at the [Portobello] barracks, for on looking at one still unidentified body, she discovered that it was that of her second son Fred, and that she was doubly bereaved. The brave woman, who was accompanied by her third son, bore up under the demand of such a searching trial and said she would rather it was so: that her heart would [already] have been broken had she not heard of her second son. The other mourners forgot their grief in her overwhelming sorrow.’ See II, 15 Aug. 1922.   

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