“Just a line…”

Michael Vincent McKiernan was born on 22nd September, 1895 in Ballyquirke, Moycullen, Co. Galway.  He showed promise in school, was passionate about the Irish language, and got good grades on his Intermediate exam.  He would have liked to have become a teacher but, like so many other men of his age, he joined the Army and went off to fight in the Great War…

From Pte McKiernan
Address reply to. Pte.M.McKiernan No.7777 Irish Guards
C/o Father Roe, Caterham, England
4th May 1915
Dear Mother,
Just a line to let you know how I am getting along here at the Irish Guards Depot. To begin with I’m in the best of health and spirits. We are well fed and badly paid here. The Guards are made up of men from all positions in life. A red-haired chap who sleeps opposite me was printer who threw up a job worth 47/6 per week to come here. He knows Galway town well and refused a job worth 42/- in O’Gormans Printing House, Galway. Below me is a baker in another bed and drilling with me in my squad is a tailor, a solicitor and a Liverpool policeman and engine driver so you see we are quite a mixed crowd. I will say nothing about why I came here for I told Tina explain to you. I would have written sooner but waiting to get my proper address which you will see above. Life as a soldier is a change from what I was used to in Ballyquirke.We have to get up at a bugle call at 6 o’clock wash and shave and polish up my boots and shine up with paste my buttons on my uniform. Breakfast next then help to clean up our hut. The hut is a wooden building about 30 yards long and 7 yards wide roofed with zinc each holding 30 men each. After cleaning up the hut we go on parade at 8 o’clock till 9 o’clock and on again at 10.30 to 12 noon then dinner consisting of beef peas and potatoes and as an after course a sort currant cake called “duff’. Breakfast consists of bread tea and meat with tomato sauce. Other days we get salmon tinned instead of meat for breakfast and dinner. Supper consists of tea with bread butter and cheese or instead bread butter and jam. We have to do four parades each day except Saturday (two parades) and Sunday one parade i.e. church parade. There is about six thousand troops quartered here consisting of Irish. Scots, Welsh and Coldstream and Grenadier Guards. You sec nothing here but soldiers in hundreds drilling everywhere. We have to be in our huts at 9.30. to answer roll call and in bed at 10 o’clock p.m. I must end now by asking all of ye and hoping to hear soon from you but if you have anything disheartning to say for goodness sake dont as I have a lot to go through here

your fond son
M. V .M

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