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Caltra nurse’s D-Day diary to be bestseller

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BY MATTIE KILROY

The diary of a Caltra-born nurse who worked in London during the Second World War – and was part of the medical team at the D-Day landings – is about to be published after spending years at the Imperial War Museum, London.

The words of Mary Mulry-Morris lay gathering dust in its vaults, but they have recently been unearthed, edited, and will be published this month to coincide with the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the start of the battle of Normandy.

Mary Mulry’s mother died in Pollinaske, Caltra three weeks after she was born and she was reared by her aunt Mrs Sharkey in nearby Lisnagry for a number of years and later by her father. She attended Caltra National School and later Killasolan NS and at the age of 18 years in August 1939 she passed the examinations to train as a nurse at Guy’s Hospital in London at a time when Britain was at war.

She had hoped for an adventure and a new start; she could not have predicted what the next seven years would bring. In this extraordinary diary, Mary recorded in intimate detail her experiences as a nurse on the Home Front and later working on the frontline in Europe. In London, she nursed critically ill children during bombing raids and narrowly escaped with her life in one the worst nights of the Blitz.

Despite the advice of her matron she joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service and she travelled to Normandy on a hospital ship with soldiers; arriving on the heels of the D-Day invasion, she tended to Allied soldiers and German prisoners of war. In war-torn Belgium, she witnessed harrowing casualties from the Battle of Arnhem.

Yet romance, glamour and adventure were never far away for Mary, even if her relationships often had to be cut short. “I always seem to be saying goodbye to men whom I might have loved had there been enough time,” she writes.

And she clearly was a woman who acted on impulse – because she accepted a marriage proposal from 2nd Lieutenant Malcolm Morris just two weeks after they’d met. They married eighteen months later and remained married for 50 years.

“We had four children, one boy and three girls, and at the last count had eight grandchildren and one great grandchild,” said Malcolm, later Captain, Morris.

The keeping of a diary during the war was not recommended in case the enemy would get their hands on it but for Mary it was a record every day.

She records her escapes from death by bombing, of her social life, her family including her brother Michael who had emigrated to America and joined the US army and he too landed in Normandy on D-Day and was amongst the US soldiers liberated from the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

She records life in Ireland and of her father’s republicanism and his views on partition of Ireland. She recalls that another hospital ship that sailed with them hit a mine and sank with all lives lost.

Her assignments and help for wounded soldiers on the beaches of Dunkirk are included in her entries. She died in 1997 in Llandogo in Wales, but her memory lives on in this diary edited by Carol Acton. Her other brother Paddy Mulry moved from Pollinaske to the nearby Glebe where he farmed and where members of his family still live.

Connacht Tribune

Violent incident in Tuam leaves seven hospitalised

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Gardaí are investigating after an incident in Tuam yesterday left seven people injured.

A violent altercation broke out between a large group at the cemetery in Tuam at about 4pm yesterday.

Around 30 Gardaí responded to the incident at the cemetery on the Athenry Road in Tuam, which broke out following two funerals in the area.

Gardaí supported by members from the wider North Western Region and the Regional Armed Support Unit had to physically intervene between parties and disperse those present.

Five males and two females were injured during the course of the incident and were taken to University Hospital Galway with non-life threatening injuries.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the scene, as he tried to flee in possession of a knife.

He was taken to Tuam Garda Station and has since been released. A file is being prepared for the Juvenile Liaison Officer.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to this incident or for anyone with any information to contact Tuam Garda Station .

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Connacht Tribune

Siblings find each other – and their Connemara roots – after 80 years

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Reunited...Pat and Miceál McKeown outside their mother Síle’s birthplace in Carna.

By Erin Gibbons

A family separated for over 80 years was reunited at the end of an emotional journey in Connemara last weekend – thanks to DNA testing and the expert help of heritage researchers.

Pat McKeown, who lives in Staffordshire in the UK, is the daughter of Síle Gorham from Roisín Na Mainiach, Carna – but she was given up for adoption and reared for a time in a Belfast Mother and Baby Home.

Now, at the age of 81, she found her roots – returning to her mother’s native place for the first time last weekend, in the company of her long-lost brother Micheál.

It was an emotional end to a lifelong search for her roots that even led her to hire a private detective to try and locate her family and to discover her name.

All of this proved unsuccessful – and she had effectively given up her search when she was contacted unexpectedly by a man called Miceál McKeown, who turned out to be her brother.

Micheál – an artist and sculptor – and his daughter Orla had made the connection through DNA testing, after Miceál too had set out to discover more about his own roots.

That revealed that Síle Gorham had married Michael McKeown in 1939, and Síle went on to have three more children named Áine, Séan and Miceál.

Pat visited Connemara last weekend for the first time to learn about her mother Síle and the Connemara ancestry which she feels was robbed from her for her entire 81 years.

She was accompanied by Miceál, his wife Rosemary, daughter Orla and son-in-law Rueben Keogh.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Student leader’s stalker hell

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Róisín Nic Lochlainn

The President of NUI Galway Students’ Union has spoken out about her terrifying harassment ordeal at the hands of a 17-year-old stalker who left her fearing for her safety.

Róisín Nic Lochlainn told the Connacht Tribune that she felt ‘such relief’ when the news came out last week that the young man who spent months putting her through hell online had been brought before the courts in Dublin for a similar campaign of harassment against a BBC NI journalist.

The 17-year-old from Malahide, Co Dublin, who cannot be named because of his age, pleaded guilty to the harassment of reporter Aileen Moynagh at Dublin Children’s Court last week.

It transpired he had used up to 40 aliases to send Ms Moynagh abusive and threatening messages on various social media platforms and by email. It is understood that the teen has a compulsive disorder and Asperger’s.

Ms Nic Lochlainn said she had sleepless nights and sought the help of Gardaí and the university’s chaplaincy service amid a slew of threats directed at her over much of 2020.

“It was actually terrifying. I know it might sound stupid, but I would check the bathroom in my room every night before going to bed. It was keeping me up at night,” she said.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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