The Mayo News, Saturday October 16th1948
Remains of Sergt Patrick J. McDonagh brought home to Aughagower, Westport, County Mayo. When the 10.15 p.m. train from Dublin pulled into Westport Station on Thursday last, it was met by 500 people who had thronged the platform to pay homage to the memory of Sergt. Patk. J. McDonagh, whose remains it carried. Sergt McDonagh a native of Shraheens, Aughagower, was killed while serving in the U.S. Army during their campaign in Holland in the recent war.
In 1944 he was buried on a hillside in Holland and early last week his remains were exhumed and flown by special plane to Dublin airport. Guarding the beautiful casket in which rested the remains, was an American army escort, Sergt. Gage who had travelled all the way from France and was present at the burial.
At Westport the coffin draped in the stars and stripes of America was placed in an awaiting hearse and the huge cortege, which followed, included over 80 cars. Sad and impressive scenes were witnessed as the funeral was met on the borders of his native parish by comrades of his childhood and by the Rev. Fathers McHugh and McEvilly who walked before the hearse to St. Patrick’s church in Aughagower Next day solemn requiem mass was offered for the happy repose of his soul and clergy present included Rev. Patrick Muldoon U.S.A, Fr. McEvilly, Fr. McHugh, Fr. Burke and Fr. O’Grady. Internment took place afterwards in the family burial ground nearby.
Oration at the graveside:
Rev. Patrick Muldoon of the U.S. Mission and a native of Aughagower recited the last Prayers at the graveside and gave the graveside oration “a final prayer is asked for the repose of the soul of Patrick J.McDonagh, an Irishman, an American and a Soldier of the U.S. army who died in the service of the country of his adoption. Today his remains were returned from a lonely grave on a foreign battlefield and were now being laid to rest taking his last long sleep in a grave on a green hillside of Ireland, on one of the hills of his home where mother and relatives could from time to time kneel and say a prayer for his noble soul. Let us pray that, while his body rests in a grave among the hills of his home his soul may soar above the hills of Mayo, the hills of Aughagower, the hills of Sraheens on to the great beyond – to his home in heaven – and may he hear from the lips of our devine Lord those words “ Well done good and faithful servant; well done faithful soldier, soldier of the army of Christ through confirmation, soldier of the U.S. army through induction, welcome from the wars of earth to the peace of heaven.
Welcome home to heaven soldier boy, may the lord have mercy on the soul of Patrick J. McDonagh” Sergt. McDonagh was the son of Mrs Sarah McDonagh and the late John McDonagh, Sraheens, Aughagower, and at the age of 18 he emigrated to the U.S.A. where he was employed by the Cleveland Gas Company.
On May 24th1942 he joined the 61stInfantry training Battalion in Texas and four months later he sailed with American forces for England. He continued his training in Cornwall, where he was promoted sergeant. Two years later his unit was among the first to storm the Normandy beaches. On June 17th1944 he was reported missing and shortly afterwards declared officially killed in action. For his bravely on the battlefield Sergt. McDonagh was awarded the Purple Heart, a high American military honour. That Purple Heart medal is now the most prized article in his old home at Sraheens.
The chief mourners were Mrs Sarah McDonagh (mother), Peter J, John and Joseph (brothers) and Miss Mary McDonagh (sister). The bereaved family received countless messages of condolence from his former employers the Cleveland Gas Company, The American Army and the U.S. government.
In an interview with a Mayo News representative the family of the late Sergt. McDonagh said they were greatly moved by the respect shown the dead soldiers homecoming by the people of Westport and of his own parish Aughagower, and they wished to express their deepest gratitude. They were particularly grateful to the clergy of Westport and Aughower, and to Fr. Muldoon of the U.S.A. who were present at the arrival of the remains, the high mass and the burial.