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Sgt. John Condon, Tralee, Co. Kerry (Royal Munster Fusiliers)
Story of John Condon, Tralee
My grandfather's name was John Condon. He was a soldier before the First World War. We think he was returned on the census for Ballymullen Barracks as a soldier in the Royal Munster Fusiliers in 1901. His army number in the census in 1901 was 4152. He was a private and aged 23 (born circa 1878). He married my grandmother, Margaret Murphy, on 6th July, 1905. She lived next door to the barracks in Giles Lane, Ballymullen and several members of her family were also members of the Royal Munster Fusiliers. John had left the army at this point but was possibly in the reserves. He must have rejoined the Munsters at some point between 1911 and 1914, because in January 1914, he was awared the long service good conduct medal and made up to Sergeant. (see picture of officers at Ballymullen Barracks, Tralee, circa 1914). In 1914, he was in the 3rd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers and his number was 2591. In the photo, he is pictured in dress uniform with his good conduct medal. We think this photo was taken shortly after he received his medal as the uniform looks new and his children are approximately the correct ages. The girl sitting on his knee is his daughter, Julia Condon (born 1907), and the young boy is his son, John Condon (born in 1906). Some time between 1914 and 1915 he must have been in France as he received the 1914-1915 Mons Star Medal. He came home on Furlough at least once in 1916 as the youngest childin the family, James (my father), was born in February, 1917. My grandmother used to talk about getting postcards from "Wipers" from him during the war. He talked of setting up a business with a French soldier making sweets. Sweet making was in my grandmother's family but my grandfather had met a French soldier who knew how to make chocolate. While most of the postcards have been lost over the years, we have one exapmple that John sent to his wife. It has Remembrance and Flowers embroidered on the front. His simple message on the back was "from husband, to wife and children". I remember another postcard from him that I saw in my grandmother's house which had written on the back "keep children at school". Some time in approximately 1916, he came back to Tralee and had his picture taken in combat uniform. The photographs of the children were taken in approximately 1916 and 1917 and copies were probably sent to him at the front. The group shot of the children shows from left to right, Julia Condon, born 1907, infant Michael, born 1915, (behind infant) John, born 1906, Patrick, born 1913, Mary, born 1908. The First Communion photo shows Julia on the left and Mary on the right. At some point during the war, John transferred to the labour corps. His new army number was 451179. According to family stories, he was a quarter master, but as his military record was burnt, we don't know his exact duties while he was in France. According to family stories, he was gassed while he was in France. He was transferred back to Ballymullen Barracks 3 weeks before his death, approx. Nov. 6, 1918. He was ill - according to his death certificate, he had influenza, however his son Paddy (Patrick) who went to see him at the barracks before he died thought he had enterric fever (dysentery). He is buried in Rath Cemetery, Tralee, Co. Kerry. John was not a native of Tralee. Clonmel may be his parish of origin, but after 15 years research, we have not found his bith certificate or baptism certificate. We think he was born between 1875 and 1882. We think his father was called Denis Condon and his mother was Mary. He possibly had a brother called James Condon, nicknamed "Whistling Jim". When he wasn't in the army, John Condon worked as a "dealer". He bought and sold goods (tableware, sweets, fruit) at fairs and markets around Kerry.