Over 200 people gathered in Moore Old Cemetery outside Ballinasloe to honour two brothers who fought in WWI. Cpl Michael O’Connell, Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart, was killed on July 23, 1918 while drawing down fire from a German machine gun position during the First World War. Michael’s brother Cpl Martin O’Connell survived the First World War; however his son was killed on the island of Iowa Jima during the Second World War and received the Bronze Star.
Michael was interred in France but after the war the American military authorities offered the families of war veterans the opportunity to have their bodies returned to Ireland and interred in the family plot. Michael’s body along with 62 others were returned to Ireland on the MV Millwater in 1922. Michael’s body was brought to Ballinasloe by rail and later interred in the family plot in Moore Old Cemetery
Last Saturday, members of the extended O’Connell families, friends, and distinguished guests were in Moore Old Cemetery to unveil two headstones to the war hero brothers. The headstones were shipped from the USA to be placed over the final resting place of these two brave Irish men who fought and died in the service of their adopted country.
The unveiling was performed by Frank Turley, nephew of Cpl Michael O’Connell and Richard O’Connell and grandson of Cpl Martin O’Connell. The headstones were blessed by Fr Molloy, PP Moore and Clonfad. The guard of honour and flag presentation was performed by members of American Legion post IR No 3 under the command of Post Commander Ron Howko Master Sgt US Army retired and Post Adj Michael Noone Senior Master Sgt US Air Force retired. Taps was played by Post member Michael Slyman.