Images from the early 1900s

Looking through photographs and postcards for the last series of blogs, ‘Silent Soldiers’, I came across a number that are worth recording here. They are from the early 1900s and were found in the Davis farmhouse at Boggaun in County Leitrim. They appear to be keepsakes collected by my grandmother Annie Davis (nee Gillmor) and by Alex Davis, her brother-in-law who returned to his homeplace after for some years living at Corballis, Co Meath.

Referring to the last blog on the WW1 experience of Bertie Gillmor, the back of this photograph notes “Jack in Bertie’s Coat”. Jack was Bertie Gillmor’s younger brother, seen here posing in Bertie’s great coat, with his cap and walking cane. The photograph was taken at the rear of their home at Boihy following Bertie’s discharge from the Irish Guards in 1919.


At first this striking WW1 photograph was thought to be that of Bertie Gillmor. However, following a review by volunteers at ‘the great war forum’ it appears that he was a sergeant in the Inniskilling Fusiliers. A search revealed the most likely candidate as John “Jack” Young Foster, a County Cavan relation of the wife of Alex Davis, Margaret née Cartwright. His uniform displayed badges for overseas service and marksmanship. The regiment was sent to Ebrington Barracks, Derry in 1916 after serving in Serbia, Greece and Egypt, and left again for France in December of that year. The photograph was taken by “Frank Coghlan, Carlisle Road, Londonderry”.

The poet Francis Ledwidge was also a member of this regiment and wrote many of his poems during this time in Derry. Neither man returned to Ireland. John Foster died of his wounds in France in April 1918.

Why the writing on the back has been inked out is a mystery; someone did not want it to be seen or read. The words “To my son and dearest wife Kitty and son Pat” can just about be made out.


This post card was addressed to Miss Gillmour (misspelling of Gillmor), my grandmother Annie, and was probably sent by an admirer around 1910. The post mark is ‘Sligo’ but the photographer is ‘Josie Roth, The Lady Photographer’ from the Isle of Man. The motor bike has an early Isle of Man registration number.


This fascinating picture postcard is of an Orange Lodge march is post marked Newtowngore, south Leitrim, 1909, a time of anti-Home Rule agitation. (Home Rule was intended to give a greater independence to Ireland within the UK but was generally not favoured by the Protestant community in Ireland.) The serious looking men with their Orange regalia are flanked by young men, some wearing pillbox hats like those of the Boy’s Brigade.

The card is signed by “W. T.”, likely to be William Taylor, and addressed to John Davis, referred to “Jas” on the card. John Davis, eldest brother of my grandfather’s generation, had moved from the Newtowngore area of south Leitrim area to Corballis, Dunore in Co Meath around 1906. William followed him and like John built a house there, marrying John’s sister-in-law Margaret Cartwright. When William died John’s brother Alex married Margaret. Living a stone’s throw apart, the Leitrim brothers had a stormy relationship which ended up in court when John sued Alex for damages caused to his prize horse.


This final post card depicts the aftermath of the Easter Rising or referred to as the ‘Irish Rebellion May 1916. The wreck they made of Church Street, Dublin.’ It was written and sent by James Davis, eldest son of John and Anna Maria Davis, Corballis, Dunore, Co Meath, to his Uncle Alex who lived close by. Sometime after Margaret’s death Alex moved back to his home at Boggaun in County Leitrim and perhaps the card refers indirectly to her recent death. James emigrated to Alberta in Canada with Bertie Gillmor in the early 1920s, and settled in Daysland.