Ballyclare town hall lit up red in Somme commemoration

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Ballyclare town hall lit up red in Somme commemoration

Ballyclare town hall was lit up red tonight to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Carnmoney soldier Tom McKinney who died from injuries sustained in the battle.


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Thomas McKinney was born in 1893 to a prosperous farming family in Carnmoney, County Antrim. His mother having died when he was young, Tom and his sister Elsie were raised by his father John, his aunt Meg and his grandfather, William McKinney. 

Young Tom attended school at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (Inst.) and then continued his studies at Ballyhaise Agricultural College in County Cavan. He returned to Sentry Hill in 1912 to assist on the 76 acre farm. 

When war broke out, Tom enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers Public Schools and Universities Men's Force. He wrote home regularly from training camp in England and from France. 

A telegram arrived at Sentry Hill dated 6th July 1916, from the Infantry Record Office in Hounslow, England, and it read 'Regret to inform your son 5265 Pte. McKinney dangerously wounded. 23rd clearing Stn. Regret permission to visit him cannot be granted.' 

Tom improved initially but the wound in his hip had become infected with gas gangrene. He died on 19th July. Subsequent official communication informed the family that he had been buried at the Longuenesse cemetery, St Omer. In early 1917 some of his personal effects arrived back home. 

Tom's letters, cards and papers were stored carefully by his grandfather William Fee McKinney and are still part of the Sentry Hill collection.

You can read more about Tom's story here.

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