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Tuesday 24 October 2017

Mass for Wexford man killed in action a century ago

By dAVID TUCKER

Thomas Byrne's father John and sister Margaret.
Thomas Byrne's father John and sister Margaret.
Thomas in his army uniform.
Susan Kelly.

DescendAnts of a Wexford man killed in action in the third Battle of Ypres - Passchendaele 100 years ago are to honour his memory in a mass at Bride Street Church at the end of this month.

Thomas Byrne, a private in 6th Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment, was killed at Square Farm, Ypres, on August 5, 1917. He was just 23 years old.

The son of John and Sarah Byrne (nee Lacy) of Wygram, Thomas was one of seven children and grew up in Wygram and Waterloo Road.

He signed up to fight in Rowe Street with some 'pals' and headed for training in Clonmel. He was then transferred to Aldershot just before been shipped to France in July 1917.

Passendale, a small village five miles north-east of Ypres is the name by which the final stages of the Third Battle of Ypres is known. It is the name, along with the Somme, which has come to symbolise the Great War for many. The Third battle of Ypres was preceded by the attack on Messines ridge in June 1917. The main battle commenced July 31, 1917, and stretched on until November 10, 1917.

It's estimated that the Allies suffered 300,000 casualties during the battle (35 men for every metre gained). Many of them were lost in the mud of Flanders and have no known grave and are commemorated at the Menin Gate and Tyne Coat memorials to the missing. The Germans suffered 260,000 casualties.

Thomas will be remembered at a mass at Bride Street Church at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 30.

Prior to joining the British army, Thomas was an apprentice fitter at Pierces at the time of the Lockout.

'He was quite rebellious at the time and when th Lockout ended he was one of those who wasn't taken back and found himself out of work,' said his great niece Susan Kelly, who lives in Farnogue Park.

'He would have been very close to his step mother. His mother died in 1905,' said Susan. 'On the death of his mother, his father later married Margaret Roche, of Johns Street, and had three more children. William, Peter (my grandfather) and Edward,' she said. Thomas is survived by nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and remembered in Wexford, by Thomas Cleary, (son of Margaret Cleary nee Byrne, sister of Thomas) - St. Aidan's Crescent, Wexford, and (John Byrne, - Kerlogue, Eva Kelly - (Susan's mother) Farnogue Park, Carcur. In Liverpool by Peter, Thomas and Bernard O'Byrne and in London, Mary Redington, John and Michael Byrne.

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