John Muldoon

Co. Donegal

Early life

John Muldoon was born in 1890 in Doonan, Donegal Town to James and Sarah Muldoon. John was one of a family of ten. He had four brothers Patrick, Thomas, James, Joseph and five sisters Agnes, Alice, Sarah, Isabella and Mary Ann. John went to school in Ballydevitt NS Donegal Town and went on to work as a postman in the Donegal Town Post Office. His father was a native of Irvinestown and was a shoemaker. 

Shown here is the home of John Muldoon. The house which was once a single storey cottage, is now renovated and occupied by the Kenny family.

In his early life John was very religious, constantly seen walking around his area discreetly holding his rosary beads while engrossed in prayer. It is believed that at the early age of 14 years he joined the British Post Office in Donegal Town as a Telegram Boy - his weekly wage is estimated at around one shilling. In his spare time he was extremely fond of walking and hunting foxes and hares. John lived in Donegal Town prior to his departure to the War around 1915. John never married or had any children.

Family background

John Muldoon was the third youngest in a Roman Catholic family. The Muldoon family were not financially well off and constantly struggled. His oldest brother Patrick, born in 1875, emigrated to the United States in the very early 1900's and his eldest sister Agnes married Paddy Meehan. They set up a thriving family business which was a grocery shop and car hackney business in the Diamond, Donegal Town. John's mother was Sarah (Tinney) whose father was the local RIC officer. 

Military experience

John joined the army in early January 1915, in the early days of the War. Post Office staff were not allowed to enlist until the Christmas Arrangements were complete - i.e full delivery of all Christmas mail was carried out. John joined the army in the Donegal Town RIC barracks. He became Rifleman, No. 10603, P.O. Rifles, 1st Battalion, London Regiment. It is believed he first trained in the UK and on arrival in France around 18/03/1915. It is believed that two reasons John left to fight in the war was for better wages and the opportunity to travel. It is thought that John and his friend, a man named Gardiner from Waterloo Place Donegal Town, went off to War together.

 John Muldoon joined the Post Office Rifles who were attached to the 1st/8th Battalion London Regiment. The 1st Battalion embarked from Southampton on the 17th of March 1915 and after a period of training and acclimatisation entered the trenches to fight in the battle for Festubert on 11/5/1915. The regiment further saw action at Loos in 1915 and the worst carnage of the War and then the Battle of the Somme at which John Muldoon died on the 16th September 1916. 


John wasn’t the only member of his family to fight in the war, two of his brothers also fought;

Thomas Muldoon

Even though badly injured by a shell blast to his right side and back and Mustard Gas to his lungs, Thomas Muldoon survived World War One. Stories were often told in the home of changing Thomas's bandages as he was constantly in pain both physically and mentally. He married a Donegal lady named Smullen. They had one boy named Thomas but sadly the marriage broke up. Thomas Jr. and his mother went to Belfast where they ran a successful shoe shop. Thomas Jr. died about three years ago. Thomas Muldoon Senior stayed with his sister Agnes until around the year 1953. It is believed he died alone in England around 1954.

Patrick Muldoon

In 1918, Patrick who served in the US Army did make a journey back to Donegal Town on leave, but after the War he went directly to the US Southern States where it is believed he died around 1968 in his nineties. 


John wrote one letter to his family during his time in France. In this letter he spoke of his surroundings and his fear of death on the battlefield. He wrote from a mud-filled trench as Christmas approached with the smell of mustard gas and death in the air. He told his parents that he worried it may be his last letter, as his unit would be going over at dawn’s early light. John said that life in the trenches was not as he had expected or was promised by the recruiting sergeant in Donegal Town. John’s brother Patrick later wrote with a heavy heart that John’s young life had been cut down at the Battle of the Somme. 

Death and burial

John Muldoon died on the 16th September 1916. It cannot be verified but it is believed that John jumped on an explosive saving other lives. His was one of the first Regiments to advance on the area called Longueval, where his life was cut short at the Battle of the Somme.

war Records

John’s family received war service medals plus the bronze Death Penny at the conclusion of the war. His army photograph and medals plus the bronze Death Penny were hanging on the walls of their home house from 1916 until 2012 along with an inscription “His King and Country called him the dear old flag to save. But now he lies in far off France and fills a hero's grave” The service medals are no longer in the family’s possession; they disappeared and are thought to have been given to a relative in New York.

War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

by Bertrand Russell



At the beginning of Transition Year, I was chosen to represent Co. Donegal in a project that involved adopting a soldier from your native county, that was killed during the Battle of the Somme. I had written an application specifying why I would be suited to having a place in this unique project. One student will each represent a soldier from their own county. The project includes a trip to the Somme battlefields in Northern France to visit the graves of our adopted soldiers.


My history teacher and the coordinator of this project, Mr. Gerry Moore assigned the Soldier John Muldoon to me.  Firstly, I got in contact with John's relatives. I met Seamus Muldoon who is John's nephew. He put me in contact with another relative named Patrick Meehan, a writer for the Donegal Democrat who knew the history of John's life. Patrick helped me gather information and photos that were relevant.

First Meeting in Collins Barracks

On March 7th all participants met in Collins Barracks, Co. Dublin. All participants first met on this day. We also presented information that we gathered on our individual soldiers to each other.

Launch in collins barracks

Developing an Archive

Next we searched through the names of soldiers with no known graves. There were seventy two thousand in total. We then carefully picked out every Irish soldier from the list, which would be made into an archive of all Irish soldiers that fought in the war.