Plaque commemorates Waterford family’s role in WW1

Ceremony honours six brothers in Collins family from Phillip Street who fought in war

Agnes and Thomas Collins from Phillip Street in Waterford city had eight boys. Six of them, Stephen, Michael, John, Joseph, Patrick and William, enlisted in the British army during the Great War.

Agnes and Thomas Collins from Phillip Street in Waterford city had eight boys. Six of them, Stephen, Michael, John, Joseph, Patrick and William, enlisted in the British army during the Great War.

 

The Royal British Legion and the Irish Defence Force marched together in Waterford city on Saturday to commemorate six brothers from one family who fought in the first World War.

Agnes and Thomas Collins from Phillip Street in the city had eight boys. Six of them, Stephen, Michael, John, Joseph, Patrick and William, enlisted in the British army, the youngest at only 16, during the Great War between 1914 and 1918. Four died in Flanders and at the Somme. Joseph was missing presumed dead, only to be found badly injured on the Eastern Front. He was repatriated after the war.

Waterford Civic Trust and the British Legion remembered the sacrifice of the Collins family with the unveiling of a blue plaque at the site where their home once stood. Among those in attendance were Mayor of Waterford Adam Wyse; attache to the British embassy Col Max Walker; representatives from the Royal British Legion, Civil Defence and the Irish Naval Reserve; and Fine Gael TD John Deasy who unveiled the plaque.

War dead

Mr Deasy said 1,136 people from Waterford died fighting for the British army in the Great War – and the majority of those came from the Ballybricken area of the city. He described the effect of those deaths as “carnage” and said it was good that 90 years later people were being remembered at a cross-community event. “I think a little bit of equilibrium has been brought to the memories of those people who died in the first World War from Ireland”.

About 80 members of the Collins family gathered for the ceremony to remember their fallen relatives.

Jimmy Collins is William’s son, who fought with many regiments during the war. William was initially discharged from the army on compassionate grounds after the deaths of his brothers, but was soon required to return to fight again. Jimmy said his father never spoke about what happened and it took Jimmy a long time to find information, his breakthrough finally coming when he discovered an old army book of his father’s with details about all the brothers written in the back. Working with other members of the family, Waterford Civic Trust and the British Legion to get this recognition Jimmy said has “meant the world to us”.