It was a very emotional day for Blessington woman Vera Kavanagh. After almost 100 years, the medals awarded to her grandfather Christopher Daly for his service on the Eastern Front in WWI were returned to Mrs. Kavanagh at a reception in Tulfarris House hosted by Wicklow County Council .
The medals were found in a car boot sale in Nottingham. The U.K. homeless men’s charity Canaan Trust along with the Royal Artillery Association made contact with Catherine Wright of Wicklow County Council’s Archives Service in January this year. All that was known was the soldier’s name and that he was born in Rathnew! The hunt began to track down the descendants of Christopher Daly. Catherine is grateful for the help of Wicklow military historian Brendan Flynn and the Blessington Historical Society, as Catherine says “Brendan provided the vital clue that the Daly family moved from Rathnew to Blessington after the outbreak of the war and with the local knowledge of the historical society, I found myself in Vera Kavanagh’s living room looking at photos of Christopher and his family after the war!”
Among the guests was Kevin Curtis from the Canaan Trust who formally presented the medals to Vera. According to Kevin “The homeless men who worked so hard on this project are proud to have helped return these homeless medals to the family”. Speaking at the event, Cllr. Jim Ruttle compared the Daly family experience to many in Ireland at that time “Today we heard moving details of Christopher Daly’s experiences, and those of his father and siblings, one of which, Robert Daly, died in a German POW camp in 1915. It is important to commemorate all Irish men who fought especially in this decade of commemoration.”
Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council Bryan Doyle was also in attendance. Mr. Doyle remarked “Everybody here today noted the emotions of the occasion, particularly the importance to Vera (Kavanagh) of the return of her grandfather’s medals. The work of Catherine in pulling the people and pieces together highlights the importance of Wicklow County Council’s work within the community.”