WWI, The RMS Leinster and Mount Merrion

The recent commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice may have seemed of little relevance here in Mount Merrion. After all, in 1918 Mount Merrion was still part the estate of the Earl of Pembroke and none of today’s housing had yet been built. Contrary to what recent would-be developers and the Irish Times would have you believe, there was no Mount Merrion “village”, just a number of scattered buildings housing workers and agents on the estate. In fact, in October, sale of the estate had been agreed by Lord Pembroke, and “the intending purchaser of Mount Merrion had paid a deposit of £7,125 and the house was to be handed over by the 1st of January 1919”.

Given this, and the political climate closer to home in Ireland, it might be expected that events in the European theatre of war had little impact on the dozen or so people still resident on the estate.

However, a mention by Newstalk‘s Tom Dunne of the excellent web site A Street Near You prompted me to enter “Mount Merrion” into the search box there. And so I discovered the following record:

Son of Hugh and Jane Crawford, of Mount Merrion, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

AGE: 21
DATE OF DEATH: 29-3-1918

A quick Google search reveals little more about Arthur. His second name was Sidney. He enlisted in Belfast and was with the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion before joining the Royal Irish Fusiliers. From census records, his age at death was more likely 23 or 24.

The 1901 census shows that he was the youngest of 6 sons of Hugh Crawford and Jane Morrison, a Welsh woman. His father, a Presbyterian born in Scotland, was the last Chief Steward of the Mount Merrion estate, and the family lived in the Chief Stewards Lodge, Mount Merrion Gardens, according to a letter written by the Pembroke’s agent, Fane Vernon. This house still exists on Trees Road. By 1911, only Arthur was still at home, along with his father’s new wife of “under one year”, an Englishwoman called Blanche, although his brother, Hugh Morris, still worked as a gardener on the estate, lodging with another gardener, Robert Graydon.

Arthur’s brother, Ernest John Crawford, emigrated to Canada, from where he also fought in the war, enlisting in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1915. Despite being wounded three times in three years, he applied again in September 1918 to rejoin the 7th Battalion. He survived the war and died in Vancouver in 1953.

Looking a little further afield, the more populated areas of Stillorgan and Blackrock saw many lives lost to the war. (Of course, South Dublin would have had a high Unionist population at the time.) William and Frances Verschoyle of Woodley, Dundrum, lost two sons. A Street Near You places this as the house now called Woodley Park House on the Upper Kilmacud Road.

One notable casualty was Corporal Michael Carroll of the Royal Army Medical Corps. He fought in the Balkans and was awarded the Obilić Medal (Serbia). He later served at the Knockaloe civilian internment camp on the Isle of Man and was drowned at sea in the sinking of the RMS Leinster (another anniversary to have been commemorated recently). He is buried in Kirk Patrick (Holy Trinity) Churchyard, Isle of Man. His home address is given as 10 Kilmacud Road which, if street addresses today are the same, is the location of Aprile’s chipper.


Rupert Dowling