the word Lucan in the mastheadthe word newsletter in the mastheadtransparent filler image
Published weekly
link to home page link to main Sport page page link to GAA page link to Sports round-up page link to Local news page link to Parish page link to Politics page link to Community notes page link to Schools page link to Regulars page link to Birdie page link to Letters page link to Anniversaries page link to Lost and found page link to Features page link to Local interest page link to Stories/poems page link to History page link to Archive page link to Links page

A Death Penny and a Sweetheart Silk!

<< Back to the main Local History page

Some weeks back, a gentleman made contact with Lucan Newsletter, enquiring about family connections of World War 1 soldier, Private William Graham, from Lucan.

His email read:
'William Graham private 4531, served in the Irish Guards, died 6/11/1914.
I believe I have his death penny, it has been in our home as long as I can remember, I played with it as a child; I am now 68 years old, haven't a clue how it came into our family.
I've been researching him on war records and he's the only William Graham that I can find in Dublin city suburbs, he was age 18 when he died.

Brian Tuohy, Dublin'

William Graham

The Death Penny bearing William Graham's name

The Death Penny was a bronze memorial awarded to next-of-kin of service personnel killed in the First World War.

In the book Treasures of Lucan, there is a photograph of some Lucan soldiers of the day.

William Graham

We don't know who the man on the left with the moustache is, but standing on the right is William Lanigan from Weir View, who served with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and the Enniskillen Fusiliers from 1914. He was killed in March 1918 aged 24 and is buried where he fell, on the Somme. William's brother, John Lanigan also served in the army and survived, returning to live in Lucan.

Jemmy Graham (seated), also from Weir View, and brother to William Graham, joined the Royal Irish Fusiliers in 1914 at 19 years of age and served for the duration of the war, being awarded the George V Medal for Gallantry and the Victory Medal. On his return to Lucan, Jemmy married Katherine Lanigan (William Lanigan's sister), and they had nine children and fifteen grandchildren. He died in 1973.

A granddaughter of Jemmy Graham's, Anne Graham, provided the photograph many years ago, and we set about putting her in contact with Brian Tuohy.

Anne was to discover that Brian also had what he thought was a scarf of some kind, perhaps connected to William. The mystery deepened, and when the two met up, Anne was overwhelmed to receive both items.

It turns out that the 'scarf' was a hankerchief, which a soldier would give to this sweetheart as he headed off to war. Such hankies were known as Sweetheart Silks, and there are several variations from those times.

Below is the silk along with William's Death Penny.

William Graham

The outer border is of shamrocks, and inside that are the flags of the nations involved in the conflict.

'It's a long, long way to Tipperary' .... is the verse / sheet music on this piece, and below it are the soldiers marching off to war.

The Death Penny features the name of William Graham, and the words:

Britannia stands tall with her trident and laurel wreath, next to a roaring Lion, while a smaller lion at the very bottom, gnaws on a German flag.

Just above the Lion's front paw are the initials of the man who designed the memorial E.CR.P. Edward Carter Preston.

To date, no connection has been established between the Tuohy and Graham families. We don't know how the Penny ended up where it did, and we can only wonder who the lady might have been, in receipt of this Sweetheart Silk!

One hundred and ten years on, it would be nice to solve this mystery.

Anne is intent on following up any clues that come her way, but as you can imagine, they are few and far between at this stage. Hopefully, another piece of the jigsaw will turn up somewhere.

If anyone has any ideas, or can tell us more on the subject, we'd love to hear from you.
Drop a line to and we'll see where it goes ....