James Murphy – From Dorset Street to Salonika

Name of soldier : James Murphy

Descendent : Kathleen Leydon

Kathleen Leydon is a woman steeped in Ireland’s experience of the First World War. Her grandfather was killed in Salonika, Greece fighting in the Balkans, while the grandfather of her late husband, Tommy, was killed by a German shell in 1918. Tommy had been very active in the Dublin Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association.

Both grandfathers were Home Rule nationalists who believed they were advancing Irish independence by supporting the war effort. They were also affected by the lack of work after the Dublin Lockout of 1913.

Kathleen lives in a cosy cluster of houses overlooking Phibsborough Luas Station and the Harry Harry Clarke Bridge – which is appropriate given that Clarke, the famous stained glass artist, is also associated with many memorials commemorating the Great War. Clarke’s windows adorn nearby St Peter’s Church.

Kathleen’s own house is adorned with plaster carvings and columns, which is unusual for a house this size (see picture below). This is because her husband, Tommy, was a plasterer by trade and became an expert stuccodore, helping to repair the ceilings of Georgian houses and old castles

Kathleen grew up on Dorset Street and in a tenement on Mountjoy Square, about which she has many stories. Her husband Tommy passed away in 2014 : and the entry on his own grandfather, Patrick Leydon, is below.

Your own name: Kathleen Leydon

Your relative: Grandfather, James Murphy

Period of activity: World War One

Specific regiment: Royal Dublin Fusiliers

Areas served in: Balkans campaign, Greece, Macedonia

Did you have much contact with him?

No, he was killed there

What are your most striking memories of him?

That he joined for Home Rule

Where is he buried?

In Sturma, Macedonia

Do you have any mementos of him?

Yes, his medals, pictured below


Patrick Leydon – A Dublin plasterer who never came back

Name of soldier : Patrick Leydon

Descendent : Tommy Leydon

Kathleen’s husband, Tommy Leydon passed away in July 2019 and is sadly missed. He was very active in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association and went on trips to old battlefield sites on the Western Front and to Gallipoli. Originally from Gloucester Street, now Sean McDermott Street, his family had a long involvement in the military, including in the Crimean war and at the Normandy landings in 1944 during World War Two

His grandfather John was also a plasterer by trade but after the Dublin strikes and Lock Out if 1913, John found it hard to get work, and heeding the call of Home Rule leader John Redmond, he joined the European war effort. He had the very bad luck of surviving almost all of the war before being killed suddenly, two months before its end in November 1918.

Your own name: Tommy Leydon (pictured above)

Your relative : Grandfather, Patrick Leydon

Period of activity : World War One

Specific regiment : Royal Dublin Fusiliers

Areas served in : The Western Front. He had survived most of the war but in September 1918, two months before the war’s end, a German shell hit his trench and killed 18 men, including himself.

Did Tommy have much contact with him?

Patrick was already gone before Tommy’s time

Where is Patrick buried?

He has no known grave but his name is listed on the Ploegsteert war memorial in Belgium


Hanging together : the two medals of the respective grandfathers of Kathleen, and Tommy Leydon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: