An East Wall docker and a Dorset Street plumber who joined the War

Name of soldier : William O Brien

Name of descendent : Bernard Edwards

Bernard Matthews and his partner Pat, pictured below, are based in Phibsborough, off the North Circular Road. They live in a charming small pocket called Cherrymount close, so named because of its profusion of cherry trees in the Spring and Summer. On one side is the old Cherrymount House, which the residents successfully had listed some years ago.

Both Mary and Pat had relatives involved in World War One. Bernard’s maternal grandfather was William O Brien, from Dublin’s North Wall and his granduncle David Edwards was from Ballybough in the capital’s inner city area.

Their stories are typical of the participation of ordinary Irish people in the Great War. William was a docker, as were many in the East Wall area, and later moved to the relatively ‘new’ area of Cabra on the northside.

Your own name : Bernard Edwards

Your relative: Grandfather, William O Brien

Period of activity: World War One

Specific regiment: (Apparently) the Lancashire Regiment

Areas served in: The Western Front

Did you have much contact with him?

No, I never knew either of my grandfathers, as they had both passed away before I was born.

What are the most striking memories of him?

William lived in the North Wall area near Abercorn Road. He then moved to Newgrange Road in Cabra in the early 1930’s and worked as a charge handler on the Dublin Docks.

Where is he buried?

In Glasnevin cemetery.

Do you have any mementos of him?

Just the photograph of him above.

More about the Lanchashire Regiment here :
The Regiments In The Great War 1914-18 | Lancashire Infantry Museum

Bernard Matthews also had a Grand Uncle who fought in the trenches

Name of soldier : David Edwards

Name of descendent : Bernard Edwards

David Edwards joined the Dublin Fusiliers, having been a plumber and hackney driver. There are no photographs of him but his work documents are reproduced here. Again, the north inner city area features, as it so often does for these Dublin veterans.

The Hackney licence is addressed at Hutton’s Lane off Mountjoy Square. Bernard’s father had lived on nearby Rutland Street, as a child and as a young man.

The indenture for the plumbers apprenticeship, meanwhile, has an address for David Edwards in Temple Street. At a family funeral many years ago, Bernard Edwards discovered he had distant relations that he didn’t know about, still living in what he describes as ‘George’s Pocket’ off Temple Street.

This is Georges Place, directly behind St Georges Church on Temple Street, facing Hardwicke Place. Like many once congested areas of the inner city, it has now been impressivly upgraded as a community space.

The Temple Street Church area is a significant cross roads in the city centre, with many associations to James Joyce and the First World War.

The contract for plumbers apprentice is dated 1886, suggesting that David Edwards was at least 28 when World War One started. An interesting feature of the document is that David’s father could not write and his ‘x’ mark was witnessed by another adult.

Your relative: Grand Uncle, David Edwards

Your own name: Bernard Edwards

Period of activity: World War One

Specific regiment: Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

Areas served in: The Western Front.

Did you have much contact with him ?

No, he had passed on.

Above : His work contract – ‘so long as he conducts himself to my satisfaction.’

What are your most striking memories of him?

How my Dad would describe my Uncle dry shaving, a habit formed in the trenches during the war. My Dad was particularly impressed by watching him one time when a small piece of metal or shrapnel broke the surface of the skin and was picked out.

Where is your grand uncle buried? In Glasnevin.

Do you have any mementos of him?

Yes, these old work documents, which are precious to us. My Dad gave me them to me as our son is the next ‘David’ in our line of the Edwards family.

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