Ringsend Remembers Local Soldier

Joseph Pierce Murphy anchor1

6th August sees the 100th anniversary of the death of Joseph Pierce Murphy, one of 20 or so young men from Ringsend killed during World War One.

One of the things that makes Ringsend special is the way many of the families who live there have done so for generations; one such clan stems from Joseph and his brothers, and about a quarter of the people of Ringsend are related to them, with some showing a marked physical resemblance to Joseph.

The four brothers came to the area from Wexford in 1850; they all had a small number of favoured first names and this is true even today, the unusual spelling of Pierce being one of them.
There are other memorials to fallen seamen in the area but none to those who died in the First World War. Newspaper Columnist Kevin Myers, who will be speaking on the day and who has a particular interest in the First World War, discovered during the course of his research that many men from Ringsend had fought and died during the conflict.

Murphy was on the first ship sunk in combat, so was of particular interest, and Myers found that many relatives of Murphy were in existence in the area. He and Father Ivan Tonge of St Patrick’s Church in Ringsend first discussed the idea for the memorial, then Richie Saunders and John Hawkins of St Patrick’s rowing club stepped in to make it happen. They were helped by Barry Saunders, who did all the necessary welding work, but also by Pat Orr, John Doyle and Gerrard McDonnell.

Murphy joined the Royal Navy at 16 and was killed in action on HMS Amphion at age 25. “His ship hit a mine, which destroyed everything from the bridge onwards,” Richie Saunders tells NewsFour. “The Captain survived but was unconscious and the ship continued on at some 20 knots before the Captain came to and tried to bring it to a stop. Survivors were rescued, but then they hit another mine and the ship sank. They lost a third of the crew including Murphy.”

Another important event to honour and remember local seamen will take place on August 4th in Pearse St Library. Ringsend Seamen in the Great War Period is being staged by David Snook of Irish Mariners (www.irishmariners.ie) and will feature copies of 1918 identity cards with photos of 70 Ringsend and Irishtown merchant seamen. The exhibition runs until the end of August.
As well as the unveiling, there will be a special oar salute by members of St Patrick’s and Stella Maris rowing clubs on the Dodder.

Pictured: Richard Saunders, Chairman of St Patrick’s Rowing Club and John Hawkins stand next to the memorial anchor donated to St Patrick’s church.

By Steve Kingston