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Connacht Tribune

Legacy of a life cut short during the Vietnam War

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Extended members of the O'Reilly family gathered in Moycullen to celebrate the life and achievements of their brother, uncle and relative, First Lieutenant, Anthony O'Reilly on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his death. Photos: Joe O'shaughnessy.

Lifestyle – Galwayman Anthony O’Reilly died in action serving as a US solider in Vietnam in 1968. As his family honour him 50 years on, his niece Hilary tells STEPHEN CORRIGAN about Tony’s extraordinary life.

The Vietnam War was a defining event of the 20th Century – and one Galway man was at the coalface, ultimately losing his life on the battlefield at just 30 years old.

That man was First Lieutenant Anthony O’Reilly, a native of Eyre Street in Galway City, who is this year being remembered by his family on the 50th anniversary of his death.

Tony grew up in Galway – went to school in St Joseph’s (the Bish) and excelled at rowing. It was a very ordinary life before he left his native land; and though his death was premature, the eight years he spent as a US soldier were nothing short of extraordinary.

The circumstances in which Tony joined the US Army aren’t altogether clear to his family but there are at least two stories that seem credible, explains his niece, Hilary McLoughlin.

“After school, we think he wanted to join the British Army and went off to London but there, he ended up joining the US Army,” says Hilary.

“My cousin tells a story that my uncle Liam never got over his death because he was with him that night and he felt he should have persuaded him to stick with the British Army, but they met these American GIs and they had offered him more money.”

An alternative story is that Tony wanted to go to America and to get a Green Card, it was necessary to enlist for three years – but he was there for eight years when he died.

“We don’t think it was his career ambition to join the army but when he did join it, he loved it – he applied to go to Officers’ School and got it and that’s how he ended up in [the US army base] Fort Benning,” says Hilary. “He was in Germany, based in Frankfurt, for about five years and we do know that he was involved with the Bay of Pigs operation in Cuba,” she adds.

These are just some of the stories his family recalled at a memorial held in Tony’s honour last month.

Some 50 of them gathered at Hilary’s Moycullen home to commemorate a man most had never met – a testament to the impact he had on those who do remember him, she says.

“His two brothers have died but his sisters are still alive. His sister, Irene, was over from America, my mother Pauline and her sister Joan were here. His sister-in-law came over from England and all my generation of cousins were here. My uncle Peter’s family were represented by his children and they came from the UK and Dublin.”

She feels it was apt, on the 50th anniversary of his death, to confront the grief of his loss – something that was too difficult for the family in the immediate aftermath of his death.

“It was about two things, really; it’s about recognising the sacrifice this man made and recognising that war may seem heroic, but the reality is that war is ugly.

“And it’s about laying the sadness of our family to rest and achieving some peace for the older generation for their loss,” she says.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Clifden break new ground with a five-star final show

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Clifden's Gearoid King, who has Michael O'Toole in support, breaking out of defence against St Ronan's of Roscommon during Saturday's Connacht Club Junior Football Final at Hyde Park. Photos: Bernie O'Farrell.

Clifden 1-16

St Ronan’s 0-10

John McIntyre at Hyde Park

A lot can change in one year. Just ask the mould-breaking Clifden junior Gaelic footballers for confirmation.

In the space of 12 months, Galway’s most westerly Gaelic football bastion has gone from fighting relegation to being crowned Connacht champions.

It’s some turnaround in fortunes by any standards, and Clifden are not finished yet with an All-Ireland Club semi-final to look forward to in early January.

Having taken out highly-rated Islandeady of Mayo in the semi-final, suddenly the burden of favouritism for provincial glory fell on Clifden’s shoulders, but they made light of this new-found status at Hyde Park on Saturday.

Coming up against St Ronan’s of Roscommon – a club which was fighting for survival itself just five years ago – in the Connacht final, a progressive Clifden outfit carried too much firepower and quality for opponents who are based close to the Sligo border.

Having suffered defeat in the club’s two previous provincial final appearances – in 2006 and 2015 – Clifden were determined to make it third-time lucky and the fact their supporters rarely had cause for concern underlines how much they were in control.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

An Spidéal raise their game after being hit by black card

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Kinvara full forward Joshua O’Connor is challenged by Liam Ó Fatharta and Eoin Ó Conghaile of An Spidéal during Saturday's County U19 B Football Final at Tuam Stadium. Photos: Iain McDonald.

An Spidéal 1-10

Kinvara 1-6

Eanna O’Reilly at Tuam Stadium

AN Spidéal claimed the county under 19 B football title on Saturday following an entertaining contest with North board winners Kinvara at Tuam Stadium.

The Connemara side were deserving winners on the day as they played the superior football for long spells. Nevertheless, they were well tested by a hard working Kinvara side, who produced a strong third quarter performance and took the lead in the 43rd minute.

An Spidéal weathered the storm however, to take control of the contest in the final quarter, scoring the final five points of the game to deservedly take the title.They displayed a greater ability to generate scores from play, which made all the difference in the end. An Spidéal’s tallied 1-6 from open play, while Kinvara were held to 0-3 by comparison.

Both sides deserve credit for serving up an entertaining spectacle in tricky conditions at Tuam Stadium. Kinvara played against the wind in the opening half but made a bright start when Oisín Ivers pointed from the right corner.

An Spidéal replied with their first score, which proved to be a major one. A strong run from Liam Ó Conghaile saw him break through Kinvara’s defence before firing a shot to the bottom corner past Shaun Philips.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

 

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Country Living

A glimpse back to darker days when we turned on each other

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A photo taken in happier pre-civil war times on October 27, 1921, at the wedding of Kevin O’Higgins (centre) to Birdie Cole (centre front). O’Higgins is flanked to his right by Eamon de Valera and on his left by Rory O’Connor, the latter to be executed just over a year later on the orders of O’Higgins. Photo: Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

One of my regrets in childhood and younger life was that I never really got to know my ageing father. There was a rural way of life back through the 20th century where older farmers tended to marry younger women, one of the consequences being that by the time the youngest of the children had reached teenage years, their father would have slipped into old age.

It wasn’t all bad though and as a child, I’d hear first-hand stories of what times were like during The Troubles from the War of Independence through to the Civil War. My father wouldn’t always talk about it that often, but here and there, he’d mention tales of hiding behind walls when they’d hear the sound of Crossley Tenders – lightweight lorries which carried parties of Black-and-Tans across the country to ‘put manners’ on the restless natives.

Tales of guns and ambushes were quite frightening but also somewhat alluring yarns for a young lad of 11 or 12 summers as here and there, my father would mention that what followed on after the hated Black-and-Tans was even worse. He would recount tales from the Civil War and how even the closest of families were torn apart, depending on whether they were pro-Treaty or not.

He would point to a spot on a field where IRA members fired shots at the Free State-controlled railway station in Ballyglunin, or maybe a house where two brothers fought on opposite sides during the Civil War. As years passed, and elderly parents moved on, talks of the Tans and the Treaty faded, but of late with the 100th anniversary of so many awful events in 1922 now being recalled, curiosity again took hold.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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