Thomas Finn tells the interesting story of his uncle who emigrated to New Zealand before enlisting in the army, and recalls how an old tape revealed details of how he became a tragic victim of the Great War.

My uncle was killed in France in WW1 but I did not know the manner of his death until recently. I knew he died in the Great War in 1918, in France, and presumed an exploding shell killed him.

Patrick Finn from Araglen, Ballyduff, Co. Waterford, was born in March, 1891. In 1909, he and his elder brother, William, emigrated to New Zealand. Their aunt Mary’s brother-in-law, Patrick Sheely (born 1867), had a dairy farm in Hunterville, Wellington, and he sponsored the two brothers.

In 1908, Patrick Sheely applied through the Minister for Immigration, Wellington to the High Commissioner in London for assisted passages for both William and Patrick Finn to New Zealand. In his letter he stated, “I will provide them work as soon as they land. They are farmers’ sons, strong and healthy and fit to face the back country.”

The application was successful and the brothers were granted third Class four-berth cabins at £10 each (paid for by Patrick Sheely). They sailed from London, destined for Wellington, on April 2nd, on the steamer RMS Tainui in cabin No. 130. They arrived on 18th May, and travelled by the Manawatu line for Hunterville, where they were met by Patrick Sheely.

On August 15th, 1912, Patrick’s older brother, Michael (my father), left London on route to New Zealand. He joined William, who at this stage was located in Waimiha, Taumarunui, King Country, and worked in the bush carrying out land reclamation and sheep farming.

Patrick was now working as a mill hand in Parker Brothers’ sawmill in Hangatiki. The three brothers were listed on the Taumarunui Electoral Roll in NZ in 1914.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own