Wexford man a hero of The Rising and that's official
A CHANCE discovery in the military archives has for the first time resulted in a Wexford man being publically acknowledged as having fought in the 1916 Rising.
Nicholas Newport, a native of Ballycogley, fought in the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War. He achieved the rank of Commandant, but died at a young age of pulmonary tuberculosis, while in service with the Defence Forces on May 26, 1925.
He was posthumously awarded medals for his involvement in both the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence, but the records were lost to history until research at the military archives recently uncovered them and he has now been publically recognised as having fought in the Rising. Members of his family, who will now receive the deserved recognition for his role in the fight for Irish freedom, were among the first to view the documents - including letters written by Nicholas Newport's father - unearthed by the Military Service Pensions researchers.
Wexford's Deputy Mayor Cllr Jim Mayor travelled with some of Nicholas Newport's descendants to Cathal Brugha Barracks, in Dublin, to view the records with Minister Paul Kehoe.
'It's fascinating to learn of the story of a young man from rural Wexford who became involved in the 1916 Rising and played an important role in the formation of State by rising to become a high ranking officer in the Free State army following the civil war,' said Jim Moore.
'Very little is known of him,' said Jim, 'he died in Nice in the South of France where he had been sent as part of his treatment.'
'We started with the 1911 census and the all the records were as sparse as that.. it was a chance discovery in the records. For this to pop up was a fairly unique event.
'It's a tragedy that he should haved died so young. The visit brought to light all the elements of the time and tragedy of a young life, that he wasn't around to reap the rewards following a very turbulent period in our country's history,' said Jim.
While Comdt. Newport's story has always been a part of the family's history, they had many unanswered questions.
The commandant was Nicholas Newport's uncle, also named Nicholas, who is 80, and who travelled to the barracks with his wife Ann and sons Paul and Nicholas, and nephews and nieces to see what had been uncovered about the little-known hero in the family.
'I often said there was very little known about him,' said Nicholas, from Randallstown, Ballycogley.
'Naturally when Jim Moore came to see me, we were interested in hearing about him. We only knew the bare bones, we didn't get all the details yet, but it was a very satisfactory and enjoyable day. We didn't get all the details, but after the Troubles he joined the Free State army,' said Nicholas.
He said he had discovered that his ancestor had been captured by the British and was held in Ballykinlar Camp, in County Down.
'He seems to have got into ill health when he was on the run,' said Nicholas, describing himself as the only Newport left in the area.
Minister Paul Kehoe said, the work of the Military Service Pensions Collection will continue to play a significant role in understanding the period of 1916 -1923 and for use throughout the decade of commemorations. 'Access and preservation of the records of the Military Archives, including the records we have seen today, will be further assisted through the building of the new Military Archives, which is in an advanced stage of completion and is visible at the main entrance to the barracks.'