Joseph Phillips, Connaught Ranger

Bernard Phillips, who was born c1835, was a widower who worked with Thomas McDonogh and Co in Merchants Road. He had been married to Mary Bowen from Galway, and they had five children. She unfortunately died, and some time afterwards Bernard was loaned by McDonogh’s to Craig and Gardiner, 41 Dame Street, Dublin, where he worked as a mercantile clerk. While he was there he met and married Teresa Hayes from Dublin. They came back to Galway and Bernard continued working for McDonogh’s.

They had 10 children, Joseph Aloysius, born July 8 1881; Ann (Nancy ), 1882; Mary Jane (Florrie ), 1884; Henry, 1886, died 1887; Amy (Weenie ), 1887; Bernard Leo, 1891; Teresa Mary, 1892; Margaret Mary (Colette ), 1894; and Violet (Gertie ), 1897.

Against his father’s wishes, Joseph enlisted in the Connaught Rangers at Renmore Barracks in 1899. He was 18 years old, and following in the footsteps of his half brother Edward Phillips who had also enlisted. The Rangers embarked for South Africa and the Boer War where Joseph was mentioned in despatches and promoted to the rank of lance corporal. On October 1 1901, he was awarded the Cape Colony and Orange Free State medals. In 1902 he returned to Ireland and was appointed recruiting officer for the Rangers in the west of Ireland.

In 1905/06, the Connaughts were sent to India and Joseph was garrisoned at Dagshai. While there he met and married Frances Young in September 1907. The wedding was in Poona, and the reception was held in the bride’s mother’s bungalow on Mayo Road, where Frances cut the cake with her husband’s sword. They had five children, two of whom, Bernard (1908 ) and Leo (1910 ), were born in India. The family returned to Ireland and Myra (1913 ) was born in Renmore Barracks, and Phyllis (1915 ) in Kinsale, where the regiment was stationed prior to embarkation for the Western Front. Alby was born in 1917. Company sergeant 6669, Joseph Phillips was killed in action in France on March 21, 1918. He was 36. He is buried at the St Emilie Valley cemetery at Villers-Faucon on the Somme.

Around 1920, his widow Frances returned to India where she remarried in 1923. Her new husband was a Lt Barby. The five children were sent to boarding schools in Agra. In 1929 their mother brought them to England where her new husband was from originally. The army accommodation there was not really suitable for a family, and in 1930 Frances arranged for her daughters Myra and Phyllis to live in Canal Road in Galway with members of her first husband’s family. Phyllis went to work with James Stewart & Co in Lower Salthill, and there she met and married Ned Ashe, and together they had a family and lived in Salthill. Myra married Jimmy Faulkner and they had a family and lived in Dalysfort Road.

Our photograph today shows Joseph Phillips in dress uniform. It is one of the images included in an exhibition entitled Galway and the Wars of the Empire, which opens in the Galway City Museum this evening at 6pm. It is a retrospective view of Galway’s involvement in Imperial Wars, and focuses on the effects of these wars on Galway city and county. It is curated by Damian Quinn and includes objects from the National Museum, Renmore Barracks, the National Museum of Australia, the Imperial War Museum, the National Museum of Berlin, and from a number of private individuals. The exhibition will be opened by Dr Gerry Moran of NUIG.

Tomorrow night (November 27 ) at 8pm, Birdwatch Galway invites you to an illustrated presentation by John Murphy on ‘The Birds of British Columbia’ in The Anno Santo Hotel, Threadneedle Road. Admission is free, but contributions will be much appreciated.

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