The personal affects of Private Patrick Ryan of Mounterin near Banagher, who was killed in WW1, look likely to return to Offaly.

Banagher World War One fighter's memorabilia may be returned to Offaly

The personal affects of a young Offaly man killed at the beginning of World War 1 look likely to be returned to Offaly to go on display. Negotiations are currently underway between the current owner of the items Peter Challender in Manchester and Michael Byrne of the Offaly Historical and Archaeological Society. The collection includes a photograph of young soldier Private Patrick Ryan, a medal and a plaque given as a token of gratitude to fallen service men's next of kin dubbed a "Dead Man's Penny". Twenty-three at the time of his death, Patrick Ryan was the second of four sons and two daughters born to Edward and Mary Ryan of Meeneraun, Mounterin, near Banagher. Peter Challender was given the valuable items approximately 45 years ago by his paternal grandmother Mary, one of Patrick's two younger sisters who emigrated to Manchester. Peter originally contacted the Offaly Independent with a view to returning the items to descendents of Patrick's immediate family still living in the Mounterin area. However research has since revealed that Patrick's three brothers - James, Edward and John - died unmarried with no children. Speaking to the Offaly Independent this week 62-year-old Peter described the memorabilia he owns connected to his great-uncle Patrick. A photograph shows Patrick in full uniform looking fit and healthy. A silver medal with a print of a man on horseback and the dates 1914 and 1918 on it presented by a representative of King George V is also included. Peter said this medal includes the letters GNR, leading him to believe Patrick Ryan was a gunner with the Irish Guards. The third item in the collection is what's dubbed a "Dead Man's Penny". The penny is actually a disc cast in bronze gun metal, incorporating the image of Britannia and a lion, along with dolphins and an eagle. The disc includes Patrick Ryan's name. Information from the War Graves Commission reveals Patrick Ryan's date of death as November 1, 1914 in Ypres. "It's fascinating stuff," Peter said this week, adding that if he could establish the identity of any of Patrick's living relatives in Offaly he'd ensure the items got to them. "It would be nice to return these to the family," he said. However, with help from Mounterin farmer James Kirwan the Offaly Independent has learned that Peter is probably one of Patrick Ryan's closest living relatives, as Patrick's brothers all died childless. Now Peter hopes to return the items for display in Patrick's home county. Negotiations are currently taking place and if all goes to plan it's expected the items may soon be repatriated to Offaly and put on display in the Offaly Historical Centre at Bury Quay in Tullamore.