The Lorrha, Martin O’ Meara VC Committee, is reaching out to raise funds to celebrate the visit of Martin O’Meara’s Victoria Cross back to our village of Lorrha in North Tipperary for the first time in 105 years. Martin never forgot his parish, leaving a legacy in his will ‘towards the restoration of the Old Abbey in Lorrha now in ruins’. We want to give the Victoria Cross awarded to him a proper homecoming celebration.
Martin O'Meara was born in Lissernane, Lorrha, on the 3rd November 1885. He emigrated to Perth, Australia, in 1911, where he worked as a sleeper-layer. He enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915. Between the 9th and 12th August 1916, during a period of heavy fighting in the battle of the Somme, Martin repeatedly went out and returned with wounded officers and men from “No Man’s Land” under intense artillery and machine gun fire. He also volunteered to carry ammunition and bombs to sections of the trench which was heavily shelled. He was presented with his Victoria Cross (awarded for most conspicuous bravery) by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 21st July 1917.
After he received his Victoria Cross, he visited his family in Lorrha for the last time, returning to Australia in 1918. He died in Perth in 1935 at the age of 50 after many years of struggle with mental health issues.
Martin's Victoria Cross is held in Fremantle's Army Museum of Western Australia collection. In July 2019, the Australian government lent the VC to the National Museum of Ireland. The loan required an amendment to the Protection of Moveable Cultural Heritage Act (1986) to allow the "temporary export of important cultural artefacts". The Victoria Cross will be returning to the Army Museum of Western Australia later this year.
Please help us remember and celebrate this great local hero.