Charles O’Donoghue – Clareman who fought in Great War and then joined new Irish Army

The O’Donoghue family. Charles is at the back, on extreme left. His identical twin is fourth from left.

Name of soldier : Charles O’Donoghue

Your own name : Jim O’Donoghue

The case of Charles O’Donoghue is yet another story from the Great Western Square area of north Dublin, which, with its adjoining streets, has provided so many World War One stories for this site.

In this case, it is from the small adjoining cul de sac called Rosemount Road off the long North Circular Road.

Here lives Jim O’Donoghue, the son of Charles O’Donoghue who fought in the Great War and then joined the army of the new Irish State, being discharged in 1924 (papers reproduced below).

Like many veterans of the First World War, however, Charles O’Donoghue rarely spoke about the experience, nor about his subsequent time in the Irish Army, which in March 1924 was still involved in Ireland’s Civil War.

The Free State army was greatly boosted by the enlistment of former Irish members of the British Army, given their experience and skills. This added to the force’s more conservative, less Republican atmosphere.

It is understood that Charles, who had been a driver, was with the Royal Artillery Regiment and joined the British Army in about 1915, but his area of service in the European war is unknown.

Army Medical history

Charles O’Donoghue was originally from Ennis in County Clare where his father worked in the asylum. He was an identical twin and one of ten children.

In the family picture above, he is in the back row, on the extreme left, while his twin brother is fourth from left, although it is hard to tell them apart !

Your own name : Jim O’Donoghue

Your relative : Father, Charles O’Donoghue

Period of activity : World War One

Specific regiment: Driver, Royal Artillery Regiment

Areas served in: The Western Front

Did you have much contact with him?

Yes, I grew up with him. He passed away when I was 21.

Do you have any mementos of him ?

Just the documents here. There were very few photographs.
on Rosemount Road – the Battle of Jutland and North Dublin

It is worth noting that the small cul de sac of Rosemount Road, has other connections to World War One, including the Battle of Jutland, one of many associations in the area to this great North Sea battle.

At No.1 Rosemount Road, just a few doors from Jim O’Donoghue, lived Daniel Jeremiah Hogan who died at Jutland, on 1 May 1916 aged 34. Hogan was a Petty Officer Telegraphist on the HMS Defence.

Telegraph operators like Hogan were important people on these ships, given a vessel’s constant need for monitoring and communications, doubly so on a military vessel. And even more so in the Battle of Jutland, which involved a lot of maneuvering and tactics.

In fact, the whole battle was a game of nautical ‘cat and mouse’ , with the numerically smaller German navy drawing the British into an open battle in the hope of inflicting sudden and preemptive damage.

This they did, and a series of devastating German direct hits sunk British ships, with the loss of over 6000 lives. There were about 2500 Germans killed.

There were 350 Irish among the dead – a large number given the size of our country and reflecting the traditional high participation of Irish people in the Royal Navy, especially from the Cork and Kerry areas.

Kerryman Tom Crean, for example (above) joined the Navy and, through it, became an artic explorer.

Daniel Jeremiah Hogan’s body was never found at Jutland and he is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Hogan’s father was also called Daniel Jeremiah and his mother was Margaret.

Also killed at Jutland was Felix Ruddy Kelly, from nearby Cabra Park (House below). He was an Able Seaman and his parents were Francis and Elizabeth.

The Cabra Park home of Felix Ruddy Kelly

Ruddy Kelly was on the HMS Queen Mary. It was the Royal Navy’s most powerful ship and yet it too was sunk. In their haste to load the guns, the crew had left explosive propellant lying around the turrets.

Another casualty on the HMS Queen Mary, was Michael Doherty, who came from not far away on Upper Dominick Street, near Broadstone.

Doherty was a stoker, keeping the ship’s furnaces going. These men were particularly vulnerable in an attack, deep in the ship’s bowels, and trapped by the fire above and by flooding.

Michael Doherty was aged 23 and lived at 79 Upper Dominick Street. Both upper and lower Dominick Street provided many soldiers for World War One. As did Henrietta Street, right nearby.

At No 5 Henrietta Street, lived Gordon Stewart Davidson Veitch who also died at Jutland. He was a Cooks Mate on the HMS Defence and was the same age as Michael Doherty at 23. His parents were Eric Gordon and Lillian.

As with the land battles at the Somme and Ypres, many bodies from Jutland were never found, and the men are remembered on dedicated memorials, such as the Naval Memorial at Portsmouth, the main port for the Royal Navy.

The Battle of Jutland was effectively the only naval battle of the war but it was a crucial one, despite occuring for just half a day. In fact, it was the biggest sea battle in history until that time and remains one of the biggest, involving 250 vessels.

However, it was also the last naval battle fought primarly by battleships, which showed how warfare was changing. In the Second World War and since, such naval encounters are accompanied by war planes and intense aerial battles.

After Jutland, the Germans concentrated on lone attacks on British boats and on commercial shipping, mostly using their famous U boat submarines. This was similiar to World War Two, when the Germans even attacked Irish shipping, even though Ireland was neutral.

Such attacks were effective for the Germans but they antagonised other countries, and brought the United States into World War One.

The Battle of Jutland – artist’s impression

In 1915, the Luisitania was sunk by the Germans off Cobh, then called Queenstown, while in 1918, of course, the RMS Leinster was sunk off Dun Laoghaire, then called Kingstown, causing many casualties.

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