Irish Medals (2nd Edition)
By O D Cresswell
Available privately from the author at 54 Rosscoole Park, Belfast, BT14 8JX, United Kingdom Priced GBP £42 to UK addresses and USD $75 to the USA both inclusive of postage.
The first edition of this book was originally released about 50 years ago. Since then research into Irish medals has become easier to conduct - especially due to the internet and the number of medal collectors has also grown considerably. This growth of interest in medal collecting has fuelled the demand for good and authoritative texts on the different facets of medal collecting. This book fulfils that requirement regarding this specialised topic – medals to Irish personnel.
The original aim for the First edition was to be a catalogue of the author’s collection. This was then developed to include data on medals he was searching for and data on information about relevant campaign medals. He carefully researched medal rolls, regimental histories, sale catalogues and campaign histories. Often he discovered that regimental histories did not always agree with medal roll information and he endeavoured to bring clarity to this subject. He does not make assertions of “completeness” but he has done a splendid job. Certainly the vast majority of medals have been identified and discussed in the book.
He starts the text with details about the Loyal Association Medals, Volunteer Medals and Militia Medals. Loyal Association medals are those awarded to the Orange Order or those societies with compatible aims and objectives. This highly specialised facet is often overlooked and some “Loyal Association” medals do pre-date the Orange Order. There were many societies that awarded medals and most had little direct connection to the Orange Order except that their aims were compatible. Some of these societies date from the 18th century so they are really the “first” Irish medals. There is a comprehensive listing of Volunteer medals awarded by various towns and he gives details about their design. Volunteer Medals tend to be issued to recognise the efforts of men who offered their services in “defence” of their locality. When the Militia was reformed in 1793 there was about 38 “units” and they awarded medals for service.
There is a good chapter on Regimental Medals which were awarded for a multitude of reasons and then the author progresses on to the more familiar campaign medals dating from the 19th century. This section starts with the Seringapatam (1799) medal issued by the Honourable East India Company and he progresses by listing the principal 19th century campaign medals familiar to the majority of medal collectors. The final sections are on Africa (1900-1958), the two World Wars and the General Service Medal of 1918. For all of these awards he gives details of Irish regiments awarded these honours and often the names of the awardees.
For collectors specialising in the medals awarded to units and formations with an Irish connection then this book with provide an invaluable reference. The author has covered not just the main British / HEIC medals awarded but also those which pre-date the usual concept of a campaign medal. He has done a splendid job and this second edition is an excellent guide to the subject.