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  • Writer's pictureBridget Walsh

Researching Ireland and WW1

My grandfather, John Doyle, volunteered for the British Army in 1915 at the age of twenty-one. He served until he was honourably discharged in 1919. He then returned home to Rathnew, a small village in County Wicklow.

He married Bridget Smullen and my father, William Doyle, was born in July, 1921.

The Battle of the Somme

My brother researched John's army service and discovered that he fought in the Battle of Albert, the first battle in the Somme Offensive, in July 1916.

John was wounded, and after he recovered somewhat from his injuries he was transferred to a labour battalion and put to work with others to build trenches and maybe recover bodies of those killed.

The Battle of the Somme was fought from the 1st July, 1916, to the 18th November 1916. The death and casualty rates were incredible.

My grandfather was one of the almost 300, 000 British troops injured. Thankfully he escaped death, unlike the 120,000 who died in this one battle. This does not include, casualty (deaths and injured) figures for 500, 000 German troops and 200,000 French troops all from the Somme Offensive that lasted just four and a half months and ended in stalemate


accessed 30/3/2023

Document: History of John Doyle, with thanks to Robert Doyle.

Photograph is a Doyle family photograph.

My writing

I have just started writing a novel that is set in 1914 - 1916. I am writing about Ireland and an Irish-American family with connections back to the Irish Famine.

I want my female protagonist, Ellen Tuite, to meet someone like John Doyle and learn about the war from him. She will meet him in 1914 as he prepares to sign up for the army. Ellen Tuite has come to Ireland from Boston, in the United States, to visit her ancestors' homeland, and stayed on to record the start of the War. She is a journalist and photographer. She will meet and photograph John at the recruiting station in Dublin when he joins the Dublin Fusiliers.

My grandfather's story has inspired me to research and write about this period in history.

The novel

The War will form a part of my novel. I am particularly interested in the Declaration of Independence in 1916. I hope that John Doyle and Ellen Tuite will meet up after that. Which side will each support? I look forward to exploring and researching those years in Ireland and elsewhere.


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