Story of Ballykelly-born war hero Molly McGinnis is brought to book

Military grave SM Farm

A new book is now available which tells the story of a Ballykelly-born nurse who received the Military Medal for her actions during World War One.

The Search For Molly: An Irishwoman in the Great War 1914-1918, marks the culmination of many years of research by Molly McGinnis’s great niece, Rosemary Henderson.

The publication was made possible by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s PEACE IV Local Area Action Plan, funded by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), which is providing £3.8m for community projects across the borough.

The story is the final publication of the Understanding Our Area Decade of Anniversaries project, which also included ‘1918 Local Voices’ and ‘Partition in Ireland: Partition of Ulster’.

On September 30, the anniversary of Molly’s death, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Alderman Mark Fielding, joined family members and representatives of Museum Services and Peace IV at Molly’s graveside in St Finlough’s Graveyard, Ballykelly, to mark the book’s launch.

Mr Fielding, said: “This is a hugely significant publication, which provides a unique local perspective to a global event.

“It was a privilege to meet some of Molly’s family members and mark her anniversary in this way with them.

“I would like to pay a special tribute to Rosemary for her research and hard work, and this new resource will be invaluable for historians as well as children studying this period.

“It’s a compelling reminder that the experiences of our past can bring a deeper and more personal understanding of our shared history.”

Sister Molly McGinnis, MM, was one of only 147 women who were awarded the Military Medal during World War One, just nine of whom were Irish.

She was born near Ballykelly in 1885 and trained as a nurse in Dublin, where she joined the St John Ambulance Brigade.

After the outbreak of war in 1914, Molly enlisted on March 18, 1915.

In February 1916, with the rank of Sister, she was posted to St John Ambulance Brigade Hospital at Etaples, France.

The hospital suffered a devastating air-raid by German aircraft on the night of May 31, 1918, and it was for her actions that night Molly was awarded the Military Medal.

The citation in the London Gazette, July 1918, read: “For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid. She showed great courage, took charge of a ward, and sustained her patients.”

The Search For Molly: An Irishwoman in the Great War is available on the PEACE IV Understanding Our Area section of the NI Community Archive website, making it accessible to a worldwide audience.

To access the book and all other resources produced under the programme go to www.niarchive.org

Hard copies of the book are available from Causeway Museum Services.

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