Special day at County Museum

Donegal Victoria Cross goes on public display for first time

Another proud day for Donegal family

Declan Magee


Declan Magee



Victoria Cross

Sgt. Diego Rainey and his cousin Cpl Philip Rainey from the Irish Army pictured with their great great uncle, James Duffy's Victoria Cross in Letterkenny. Photo: Brian McDaid.

The Victoria Cross won by a Donegal man during the First World War has been displayed in public in the county for the first time.
Private James Duffy was awarded the medal for his actions as a stretcher-bearer during service in Palestine while serving with the 6th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
While taking part in a British infantry offensive on Jerusalem in December 1917 he saved two wounded men by carrying them over his shoulder while under enemy fire.
Another stretcher-bearer lost his life in the incident which occurred at Kereina Peak.
James Duffy was born in Crolly in 1889 and moved to Letterkenny as a child. He enlisted in Glasgow in December 1914 and was posted to the 6th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
The battalion was sent to Gallipoli, later to Egypt and onto Palestine in September 1917. He returned to Letterkenny after the war where he lived until his death in 1969.
The VC has gone on display at Donegal County Museum, which in partnership with the Inniskilling Museum and the Irish Defence Forces.
Members of his family, including his daughter Nellie and granddaughters Evelyn and Veronica, were among those who viewed the medal on Thursday.
Schools from across Donegal and two from Enniskillen visited the museum in the morning to view the medal.
Because of the value of the medal, an extensive security operation was in place during the event.
Caroline Corr from the museum said the day was a big event for the museum.
“VCs are not usually transported like this and or put on public display. Every VC is won for a particular deed and each one is unique. It is a one-off object and we are delighted to be able to show it.”
The VC was awarded for “most conspicuous bravery” . Private Duffy is the only Donegal winner of a VC in the First World War.
Also in the exhibition were the medals awarded to Captain Henry Gallaugher DSO.
Henry Gallaugher was born at Balleighain, Manorcunningham in 1886. He was commissioned into the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1914. During the Battle of the Somme, Captain Gallaugher formed a party which rescued 28 men stranded in no-man’s land and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. On 7 June, 1917, during the Battle of Messines, Capt Gallagher’s right arm was shattered by a shell fragment. Although urged to go back, he led his company to its objective, and while returning later to have his arm dressed, he was killed instantly by a shell.
He is buried in Lone Tree Cemetery, Belgium.

Meryvn Whyte from the County Museum in Letterkenny pictured with the James Duffy's Victoria Cross.