A FIRST World War hero from Donegal will be remembered this week as a Blue Plaque in unveiled in Letterkenny in his memory.
James Duffy was born in Crolly in West Donegal in 1889 but was later brought to Bonagee, Letterkenny as a young baby with his parents, Peter Duffy and Kate Doogan.
He was awarded a Victoria Cross for bravery, Britain’s highest and most prestigious award for gallantry and also had a special seat erected in his name in Letterkenny’s Town Park in 2007. The WW1 veteran is buried in Conwal Cemetery and his Victoria Cross is displayed at the Inniskilling Museum in Enniskillen Castle.
When the Great War broke out James joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Glasgow, where he was working at the time, and it was for his heroic actions in Palestine that he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Mr Duffy has been recognised in the past for his bravery on December 27, 1917 at Kereina Peak, Palestine. He was a solider and stretcher bearer with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers during the war. He was working alongside a second stretcher bearer when he tried to rescue a wounded comrade.
The two men fought their way through heavy fire, however the second stretcher bearer didn’t make it and Mr James Duffy had to bring his wounded colleagues to safety.
‘His gallantry undoubtedly saved both men’s lives, and throughout he showed an utter disregard of danger under heavy fire.’ read a citation in the London Gazette on February 27th, 1918.
Surviving the war, he eventually returned to his home in Donegal and spent the rest of his life in Letterkenny, before he died at the age of 79 in 1969.
More than 8000 people from Donegal went to fight in the First World War, however around 1,100 of these brave men and women never returned.
Chris Spurr, Chairman of the Ulster History Circle said: “James Duffy made a long journey from his birthplace among the hills of west Donegal to the mountains of Palestine, and it was there that his valour brought him lasting honour.
“One hundred years after Private Duffy won the Victoria Cross, the Ulster History Circle is delighted to commemorate this heroic soldier with a blue plaque in Letterkenny.”
Alongside The Ulster History Circle, James Duffy’s daughter, Mrs Nellie O’Donnell will unveil a blue plaque at Castle Street, Letterkenny in his honour on November 10, 2017. The Ulster History Circle is a small not-for-profit organisation who erect plaques across Ulster in honour of people who have made significant contributions to our history across many areas of life.