Lorrha/Dorrha
 

Martin O’Meara VC

Ger kicks off the Martin O’Meara fundraiser fundraising with a huge display in Lorrha Hall on Sunday May 1st 2022. Our thanks to everyone who contributed. 

The Lorrha Martin O’Meara VC committee commenced fundraising to celebrate what will be an enormous event for our parish – the visit of the original VC in the summer of this year.  For the first time in 105 years, the visit of Martin O’Meara’s Victoria Cross will be a once off unique occasion, which no doubt everyone in the parish will want to experience and be a part of.  Ger O’Meara led off the fundraising on Sunday last with a  display of war militaria and memorabilia from the Great War in Lorrha Community Hall and many thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to the fundraising drive.
A Go Fund Me page is also up and running at https://www.gofundme.com/f/homecoming-of-martin-omearas-vc or by typing in Homecoming of Martin O’Meara’s VC  Go Fund Me Page. Your support will be much appreciated.

                                                         ANZAC Day 2022 in Lorrha
On Thursday April 21 2022 the Australian Ambassador to Ireland HE Gary Gray visited Lorrha for a meeting with the Martin O’Meara VC committee. While in Lorrha, a wreath laying ceremony was held at the monument to Martin, and in recognition of ANZAC day the following Monday 25th
Pictured here are members of the Lorrha Martin O’Meara VC committee:  From left, Ger O’Meara (Secretary), Ambassador Gray, Mike Hoctor, Rose Mannion (Chairperson), Louis McCormack (Treasurer), Nancy White. Missing from photo, Joe Dolan, Martina Needham, Cllr. Michael O’Meara, James Heenan.
The Lorrha, Martin O’ Meara VC Committee, is reaching out to raise funds to celebrate the visit of Martin O’Meara’s Victoria Cross back to our village of Lorrha in North Tipperary in 2022 for the first time in 105 years. Martin never forgot his parish, leaving a legacy in his will ‘towards the restoration of the Old Abbey in Lorrha now in ruins’. We want to give the Victoria Cross awarded to him a proper homecoming celebration.
Martin O’Meara was born in Lissernane, Lorrha, on the 3rd November 1885. He emigrated to Perth, Australia, in 1911, where he worked as a sleeper-layer. He enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915. Between the 9th and 12th August 1916, during a period of heavy fighting in the battle of the Somme, Martin repeatedly went out and returned with wounded officers and men from “No Man’s Land” under intense artillery and machine gun fire. He also volunteered to carry ammunition and bombs to sections of the trench which was heavily shelled. He was presented with his Victoria Cross (awarded for most conspicuous bravery) by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 21st July 1917. for most conspicuous bravery.
After he received his Victoria Cross, he visited his family in Lorrha for the last time, returning to Australia in 1918. He died in Perth in 1935 at the age of 50 after many years of struggle with mental health issues.
Martin’s Victoria Cross is held in Fremantle’s Army Museum of Western Australia collection. In July 2019, the Australian government lent the VC to the National Museum of Ireland. The loan required an amendment to the Protection of Moveable Cultural Heritage Act (1986) to allow the “temporary export of important cultural artefacts”. The Victoria Cross will be returning to the Army Museum of Western Australia later this year.
As this will be an once off lifetime event please help us to make this a memorable occasion by donating towards the required funds that is needed.
You can donate by clicking on the link below and we thank you most sincerely in advance for your contribution.
https://www.gofundme.com/f/homecoming-of-martin-omearas-vc?qid=5daac746b98ea0e28e2aac106ae81bd5

 

 

 Anzac Day in Lorrha

Anzac Day (25 April) marks the anniversary of the WWI campaign that led to major casualties for The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) at Gallipoli in 1915. In Lorrha on Sunday morning last the day was marked at short notice by and a very low key and brief wreath laying ceremony in the warm Spring sunshine.
In anticipation that the social distancing regulations would be resolved, a new date for the visit to Lorrha of the Victoria Cross awarded to Lorrha native Martin O’Meara was set for Saturday April 17th. This was agreed between Lorrha representatives and the Australian Embassy to Ireland. This was the weekend before ANZAC Day after which the Victoria Cross which is on loan to the National Museum of Ireland would return to its permanent home in the National Museum of Western Australia in Fremantle. However, like many other events, this arrangement has been postponed to some future date.
Indeed the annual ANZAC Commemoration Ceremony in Grangegorman Military Cemetery in Dublin was also cancelled. Instead, the Australian and New Zealand Ambassadors to Ireland placed a wreath at the residence of the New Zealand Ambassador, HE Mr. Brad Burgess. However, in recnogition of the Lorrha contribution to the ANZAC’s in the Great War, the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, HE Mr. Gary Gray generously arranged for a wreath to be given to the parish of Lorrha and Dorrha to be placed at the Memorial in Lorrha village. In compliance with regulations it was a very small and private occasion. Carmel and Sheila O’Meara of Lissernane, Lorrha placed the wreath at the memorial The sisters are the closest neighbours to Martin O’Meara’s home in Lissernane and are not related to him. Their sister Mary Stephens recited the citation that was reported in the London Gazette describing the heroic actions by Private Martin O’Meara for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
A second wreath, donated by the parish to acknowledge the other people from Lorrha who died in the Great War and other conflicts, was also placed at the monument.
All memorial events were kept small this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Neighbours of Martin O’Meara from Lissernane from left Mary Stephens, Mick Hoctor, Carmel & Sheila O’Meara, Joe Dolan, Michael O’Meara.

Carmel & Sheila O’Meara who laid the wreath

Ger O’Meara MC on the occasion of Anzac day wreath laying ceremony Sunday April 25th 2021 

Martin O’Meara’s relatives, Noreen, Bridget and Billy with their cousin Anthony beside the VC Medal during a very special ceremony in the Australian Embassy on Thursday evening July 25th 2019 to mark the arrival of the VC medal to Ireland where it will remain for 12 months on loan to the National Museum Collins Barracks.

On Friday July 26th 2019, another ceremony took place in the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks where Martin’s VC along with his British War Medal and Victory Medal are now on loan for 12 months. The medal will be brought to Lorrha in 2020 before it returns to Australia.

Martin O’Meara VC is Australia’s only Irish-born Victoria Cross recipient of the First World War.  He was born on 6th November 1885 in the parish of Lorrha.  Migrating to Australia in 1911 he was a resident of Western Australia when he joined the Australian Imperial Force in Perth on 19 August 1915 and left Australia with the 12th Reinforcements for the 16th Battalion in December 1915. In early 1916, O’Meara joined the Battalion in Egypt where it had returned following the evacuation from Gallipoli. After undertaking training there, the Battalion moved to the Western Front in France.
On 9–12 August the 16th Battalion mounted an attack on German positions at Mouquet Farm near Pozières. During this period O’Meara, an Australian Army scout, behaved in a manner which led one officer to describe him as ‘the most fearless and gallant solider I have ever seen’. He was credited with having saved the lives of over twenty-five wounded men by carrying them in from no man’s land ‘under conditions that are indescribable’. At other times he had, on his own initiative, brought up much-needed supplies of grenades, ammunition and food. For these actions O’Meara was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Tragically, upon returning to Australia in November 1918, O’Meara had some sort of serious mental breakdown between 8–13 November. A lack of surviving records make it difficult to accurately determine what actually happened. Institutionalised as someone suffering from ‘delusional insanity’, O’Meara never left institutionalised care and died at the age of 50 on 6 November 1935. His will left his Victoria Cross medal to the care of the 16th Battalion Association, which later donated the medal to the Australian Army Museum of Western Australia, where it has remained on display.
The loan of the VC to the National Museum of Ireland will likely be the second time the medal has visited the shores of Ireland. After receiving his VC medal from King George V, O’Meara later visited Ireland in October 1917. It is highly likely that he took his medal with him when he visited family in Lorrha some 102 years ago.
O’Meara’s life is commemorated in both Australia and Ireland. In Ireland, bronze plaques at Lorrha’s Roman Catholic Church commemorate him and in June 2013 a memorial stone was unveiled in Lorrha by the Lorrha Development Association.

Australian Ambassador H.E. Richard Andrews in the grounds of Collins Barracks.

 Major Henry Fijolek, Manager, Army Museum of Western Australia.

The two men tasked with escorting Martin’s VC to Ireland Neil Dailey, Manager Army Heritage, Australian Army History Unit, Major Henry Fijolek, Manager, Army Museum of Western Australia holding the VC along with the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 

Major Henry Fijolek, Manager, Army Museum of Western Australia, Defence Attaché Col Sue Graham, Ambassador Richard Andrews, Neil Dailey, Manager Army Heritage, Australian Army History Unit.

Martins Relatives.

Lorrha people who were invited to the special ceremony on Thursday evening also attended at the National Museum Collins Barracks the following morning are pictured with Dignitaries before the medal was place in a case in the Museum.

Martin’s grand-niece Noreen,  pictured here signing the VC loan forms for display in the National Museum of Ireland with Chris Harbidge, Documentation/Loans Officer.  

National Museum curator Brenda Malone pictured with Martin relatives just before his VC medal along with his British War medal and the medal for Victory were placed on display.  

Ambassador Richard Andrews placing the VC in the special case for display in the Museum.

Martin’s relatives place his British War Medal and Victory Medal also into the case.

And after all the formalities it’s time for a chat!!

All smiles for the camera in the Australian Embassy…

Deep in conversation in Collins Barracks reception hall…

Neil Dailey, Manager Army Heritage, Australian Army History Unit and Major Henry Fijolek, Manager, Army Museum of Western Australia at Martin’s memorial in Lorrha when they visited recently. 

In June 2019 Michael Madden and his son was visiting Ireland from Australia and they presented a set of replica medals along with his sons publication of VC recipients to Lorrha school Principal Mrs. O’Meara.

 

Follow Martin’s life by clicking on the link.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1IWkXh-zFI1PWGF8ZhYxepdMrpuE

_______________________________________________________________________________________

‘Lorrha People in The Great War’ is a book written by Ger O’Meara and features the life of Martin O’Meara V.C. The book will be launched on Saturday 19th November 2016 by the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, Richard Andrews.

img_4440-2

The Plaque to Martin O’Meara V.C. which was unveiled in Glasnevin Cemetery on Friday November 11th 2016 Armistice Day

img_4558-2

Martin’s grandnieces Noreen & Bridget with the Australian Ambassador to Ireland Richard Andrews.

One of two plaques displayed on the confessional door in Lorrha Church. 

 

 

St. Ruadhan’s R.C. Church in Lorrha where the plaque to Martin is on display. 

 

Mary, Arnold and Derek visit Martin O’Meara’s  grave in Karrakatta Cemetery in May 2019.