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Two Armistice Day Associated Events Happening Here In Thurles

A Soldier Died Today

by A. Lawrence Vaincourt.

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbours, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honour while he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

Two Armistice Day Associated Events will be happening here in Thurles over the coming week.

Event No. (1):

For just 1 night only, War Dead Databases will be available for viewing and consultation by the public in The Old Abbey Inn, Holycross, Thurles, Co. Tipperary on Friday 9th November, 2018, from 7.00pm to 9.00pm. Admission to this event will be free.

So, if you have had a relative killed in the Great War, he or she will be recorded in these databases. Same are the most comprehensive roll of WW1 Irish casualties in the World and include 26,000 photographs of serving personnel published in the 26 county newspapers of the period. They cover all the casualties and include over 10,000 that are not listed in Ireland’s Memorial Records.

If you have an item from the war, e.g. medals, uniforms or equipment, do bring them along, where they will be identified.

These War Dead Databases were used to compile 31 WW1 books, including the “Tipperary War Dead” and the “26 County Casualties of the Great War”, and have been kept in Camden Fort Meagher in Crosshaven, Co. Cork. They can be searched by ‘Place’, ‘Name’, ‘Unit’, ‘Date of death’, ‘Burial place’ or ‘Memorial’ and cover all the Allied Armies, Navies, and Air Forces, in the U.S., Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada.

Any voluntary donations to this latter event, on the night, will go to the Suir Haven Cancer Support Centre, situated here in Thurles.

Event No. (2):

“A Nations Tribute” will take place across the world, when pipers from various countries will play the tune, ‘The Battle’s Oer’ at 6.00am on November 11th, 2018; commemorating 100 years since the signing of the Treaty, which ended the Great War.

On Nov. 11th. 2018 (Armistice Day), here in Thurles, Piper John Moloughney together with pipers from the Sean Treacy Pipe Band, representing Moycarkey & Borris, Co. Tipperary, will play at a monument dedicated to John Cunningham, V.C. at his birthplace (Born 28th of October 1890) in Stradavoher, (Hull Street), Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Educated at the Christian Brothers School, (CBS) Thurles, John, before the war, was employed as a farm labourer. John went to France on 19th December 1914, becoming a Corporal in the 2nd. Battalion, the Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians).

On 12th April 1917, at Bois-en-Hache, France, he was in command of a Lewis Gun section on the most exposed flank of the attack. His section came under heavy enfilade fire and suffered severely. Although wounded he succeeded almost alone in reaching his objective with his gun, which he got into action in spite of much opposition. When counter-attacked by a party of some twenty of the enemy, he exhausted his ammunition against them, before standing in full view to throw bombs. He was again wounded and fell, but he picked himself up and continued to fight single-handed with the enemy until his bombs were exhausted. He then made his way back to his lines with a fractured arm and other wounds. Corporal Cunningham died 4 days later in hospital at Barlin from the effects of his wounds, on 16th of April 1917.

He is buried at Berlin Cemetery, Plot 1, Row A, Grave 39 near Nouex Les -Mines. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for Bravery in action. There is a tablet bearing his name in St. Mary’s cemetery, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

His brother, Pakie (Patrick) Cunningham is also buried in St. Mary’s Churchyard, Thurles. He also died at home on 4th. June 1915, from wounds received in France. He was a Lance Corporal in the 1st. Leinster Regiment.

Piper John and his companions now intend to play at John & Pakie Cunningham’s birthplace at 6.00am on the morning of November 11th. 2018 and in St. Mary’s Churchyard at 11.00am on the same date.

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