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U.S. SOLDIER'S IMPRESSION OF BALLITORE IN JULY 1945

Leinster Leader, July 24th 1945
 
Visiting Birthplace of Grandparents
 
U.S. Soldier’s Impression of Ballitore
 
The first American soldier to visit Ballitore district arrived there during the past week. He is Mr. William Byrne, twenty-years-old member of a famous U.S. Airborne Division, which during the fighting in France last year, added a glorious chapter to the history of the American Airforce.
       Billy, as he is known to his friends, is a good-looking, well-built youngster whose smiling blue eyes proclaim his Irish strain. He is visiting his cousin, Mr. Thomas O’Connor, Crookstown. His grandfather, the late Mr. Thomas Byrne, was born in Moone, and his grandmother, formerly Miss O’Connor, came from Calverstown, Kilcullen. He is one of a family of seven, his home is in Newark, N.J., and both his parents are alive. He joined the American Army at the age of 18. His father, Mr. Peter Byrne, has already visited the country twice, once at the age of 2 and again when 7 years old.
 “I have always longed to see Ireland” Billy told the writer of this article on Monday. “It certainly is the most beautiful country I have ever seen and the people are so friendly and hospitable” he added. “Do you learn much about Ireland in America?” asked the writer. “Indeed we do for there is a deep and lasting affection there for this country” he said “and all Americans of Irish descent take a great interest in the affairs of Ireland.” And not without an air of pride he added “You know 80% of the American soldiers serving in Europe are of Irish descent.”
   At a convivial gathering in Mr. E. J. Kelly’s establishment at Ballitore on Monday evening the American visitor was presented by a kinsman. Mr. Tim Byrne, Ballitore, with a beautiful blackthorn shillelah.
      Billy leaves this week to join his unit in Sens, France. He expects to embark for home in September or October. “I shall have many happy memories to tell the folks back home about Ballitore and its grand people” he confided in the writer.

The Leinster Leader of July 1945 recalls the first American soldier to visit Ballitore district, the birthplace of his grandparents.  Our thanks to Roy O'Brien


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