A memorial to American Civil War hero Captain John Lonergan, a native of Carrick-on-Suir, will be unveiled by US Military Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Shawn Purvis on Saturday, May 8.
John Lonergan was born in Carrick on Suir on April 7, 1837, son of Thomas Lonergan and Mary Nolan. The couple who lived in the Rathclarish / Curraghdobbin area of Ballyneale before they moved to live in Sir John’s Road, where their son John was born.
The Lonergan family quite possibly had strong ties with the Slate Quarries area as that name is common to the district and when the Lonergans from Sir John’s Road emigrated to America in 1848 they settled in the slate quarries region of Vermont, as did other families from Ahenny and Windgap.
The nearest Irish relatives now to Captain John are the family of John Lonergan, Ballinacluna, Ballyneale.
In America, Thomas Lonergan resumed his trade of coopering in Winooski and when John and his brother Edmund came to working age they followed their father into the family business.
However by 1860, John’s thoughts turned to other things and he founded a militia group called “The Emmett Guard.” It is generally assumed that this group was formed as an armed wing of the Emmett Monument Association, an organisation that John O’Mahoney had helped found in 1855. At the time John Lonergan was organising his militia, other militia companies of Irishmen were being formed in most of the other large cities especially where there was a sizeable Irish population. John had actively recruited for his regiment among the Irish slate quarrymen in Rutland just north of his home in Burlington. In July 1863, John Lonergan led his Emmett Guards into action with spectacular results.
The Battle of Gettysburg is one of the most famous battles of the American Civil War and the Carrick on Suir man played a gallant role in that engagement - for his actions he was awarded America’s highest honour ‘The Congressional Medal of Honour’.
John’s military career did not end there for he was also heavily involved in the Fenian movement and was a prominent figure in the Vermont organisation. He was an active participant in the ill-fated incursions into Canada in 1886 and 1870.
In later life, John spent some time as a newspaperman founding a publication called The Irish Watchman, in Burlington. This paper folded after a few months but interestingly, his son went on to become editor of the Montreal Gazette.
John had a few unsuccessful business ventures before becoming an employee of the United States Customs working at the Canadian border.
John Lonergan died in Montreal in 1902 and his remains were taken to Burlington where he was buried with full military honours.
Since the unveiling day arrangements were announced a few weeks ago, the local committee has been informed that Bill McKone author of “Vermont’s Irish Rebel” will be unable to attend due to personal reasons.