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Help Identify- Irish Regiment Photo c.1890

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Trying to find out some information on my Great Grandfather's Photo.  I believe it was taken around 1890.  I know the photo quality isn't great, but any information would be greatly appreciated.


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Your G'grandfather's Irish origin and the photo being taken in a studio at the Curragh don't necessarily mean that he was in an Irish regiment. The Glengarry bonnet he is wearing dates the photo to before  about 1896 when a new Field Service cap finally replaced the Glengarrywhich was phased out from 1894 for all but Scottish regiments. His apparent youth would place the date earlier rather than later, as you say, perhaps circa 1890.

That's a particularly large badge to be worn on the Glengarry - they tended to be smaller than that except in Scottish regiments.  That should narrow down the options somewhat, as will what may be yellow or orange facings on the cuffs and collar of his tunic, which show up dark as a result of the photographic process of the time. If you can make an enlarged image of  the collar badge that might help too.

If you post the picture on http://www.victorianwars.com/index.php  you will get  some much more precise observations on the points raised above and with luck get closer to identifying the regiment. In addition, your man's name should turn up on all sorts of records relating to his service.

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jf42 - Thank you very much for your insight.  I'll try to find the original, not sure who in the family has it, I only have a scan to work with.  From family accounts, all I have is that he was in the English army before coming to the US and joining the Irish 69th Regiment for the Spanish American War.  

I'll also try the site you recommend.  Again, thank you for taking the time to provide the information you did.


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Robbo  -  jf42 makes some sensible points with regard to the badges  -  however, I feel that the Irish identification must be a pointer.     The buckle appears to show an Irish Harp  -  although the detail is poor.  I have a ref. book on British Regts. prior to 1900 and will have a look through to see which Regts. used the harp.    Meanwhile, I hope someone else will be able to assist you.   Best wishes on joining GMIC.     Mervyn

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Robert, I took the liberty of posting your photo  here, on http://www.victorianwars.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=10293&p=51847#p51847

There are indications that the subject might be a Connaught Ranger, although the collar badges and belt buckle contradict that assessment. They should feature an elephant insignia and it's fairly plain that they don't- whatever else the symbols might be.  All other red-coated Irish regiments of the period were Royal regiments, several being Fusiliers as well, and we don't see the relevant uniform details in your photo (By the way I mispsoke about the relative size of the cap badge, which should be about 3 inches high. The cap worn by John Kelly has been cut down to create a more jaunty look  off-duty).

The identification with the Connaught Rangers is complicated by the fact that neither the 1st or 2nd  Battalion of the regiment was stationed at the Curragh, or even within 100 km, during the 1880s and 1890s and neither were in Ireland between 1885 and 1897. The 1st Battalion were stationed at Athlone between 1897-99, which is a little late for John Kelly's participation in the Spanish-American war.

It's been suggested he might have been in a Militia unit and that proposition remains to be explored.

I quote from a Victorian Wars Forum member's comments:

"The harp was associated with many units in Ireland as you know and would predicate a militiaman. Regulars had long been in the universal union clasp by then.

Three out of the four militia battalions for the Connaughts wore a variation of the harp, Erin, or angel*. Roscommon militia thought to have done so several years after the merger**."

* "Erin, or angel" refers to different versions of the Harp emblem used in the badge of the Connaught Rangers at different times, the latter having its front formed of a winged angel. The Erin harp, so-called, being plain

** "The merger" refers to the union in 1881 of two  Irish regiments, the 88th and the 94th to form The Connaught Rangers. This was part of widespread reforms that created two-battalion regiments attached to specific districts of the United Kingdom with local militia and  volunteer regiments attached and incorporated as battalions of the 'parent regiment.' The 88th had traditionally recruited in the southwest province of Connacht.

None of the above explains what John Kelly was doing having his photo taken at the Curragh of Kildare-   which, in case you didnt know, was a principal British Army garrison to the southwest of Dublin but the Connacht Rangers  were  never stationed there in the 1880s or 1890s and had their regimental depot in Galway far to the southwest. Perhaps he was there with his militia battalion on annual camp.

Roscommon, by the way, is not so far from Moate, West Meath, one of the birthplace options for John Kelly.  Dublin, the other option, is more handy for the Curragh of Kildare.

I hope at least some of that information will help you  in refining your g'grandfathers biography.



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JF42 - Thank you very much!  I really appreciate the effort you put into it.  This gives me plenty to look into further.  Hopefully, I'll be able get my hands on the original photo and get a better scan.

Thanks again!

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