The Wartime account of Washington Shields

By Hugh Logan

Washington Shields was born in the year 1894, in the townland of Parsonstown, Co. Meath. The family home was a farm house known locally as the ‘Mountain House’, a Georgian building situated at a crossroads on the road to the Boyne crossing at Slane. The family were protestant; attending the local Church of Ireland with Washington (or Wash for short) being the eldest of four children, including a younger brother Tom and two sisters Susan and Queenie (who died as a child). Like many Irishmen who were sickened and stunned at the sinking of the Lusitania, he enlisted in the British Army on June 22nd, 1915, at the tender age of 21. As a farmer and someone who could both ride and shoot, he was immediately drawn to the cavalry. Wash joined the South Irish Horse, a yeomanry regiment which was only in existence for 20 years (1902 – 1922). It was as part of this regiment that he arrived in France in time to participate in the allied offensive known as the Battle of Loos, being held in reserve behind the infantry, waiting to exploit the breakthrough that never came.

 

By Rhona Murray

My great grandfather was hard man. John Poole, father to 13 children and husband to Bridget Gibson. He had been toughened by life experiences. Born in Dublin in 1896, he grew up in a tenement house on Marlborough Street. Himself, his parents and his two siblings all lived in one room and shared the building with 25 others; 30 in total lived there.