Willie Greene in military uniform circa 1953.

Historian in Mullingar to research late father's origins

A Scottish historian is coming to Mullingar this week on a family quest.

Murdoch Kennedy from Linlithgow in West Lothian is trying to uncover information relating to his late father, who lived in the Mullingar area in the 1930s and 1940s under the name of William John Greene, more commonly known as “Willie”.

Willie Greene was born around 1926 and may have been orphaned at a young age. From the age of six, he lived in Kilmaglish, Knockdrin, Mullingar and attended the school at Taughmon.

Murdoch believes his father may have been in a home until the age of six. At Kilmaglish, Willie Greene lived with a Mrs Bridgit McAuley, who may have been an aunt or a foster mother.

Nothing more is known about Willie until November 12, 1942, when he enlisted in the Irish Defence Forces and did his training at Athlone with the 20th Infantry Battalion. He later served at Finner Camp, Bundorran.

The late Willie Greene in the 1990's.

Willie’s records from the Defence Forces reveal that he went absent without leave on August 28, 1944, and British Army records show that he enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Omagh on August 31st, 1944. On May 3, 1945, he was posted to India.

Well known as a local history researcher in his home area in Scotland, Murdoch Kennedy is painstakingly trying to research his father’s origins in Westmeath and wonders if anybody remembers Willie Greene.

Perhaps he has relatives in the area, whose descendants are still living around Mullingar?

“My Dad’s story is fascinating, going from the villages of Westmeath to the end of the British Raj in India, to service in Hong Kong, Egypt, and the Caribbean, and then on to this eventual settlement in a small town in Scotland, where he was a much-loved local character," explains Murdoch.

Family group circa 1961.

"I am very keen to find out more about my dad’s origins in Ireland and would be delighted to meet anybody who remembers him or has family stories about him. It would be amazing if I could discover anybody who was actually related to him. I will be in Mullingar for a week from Sunday June 11. On June 13th, I am making at trip to the Military Archives at Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin, where I hope to see the file, they have regarding my dad’s army service”.

Murdoch can be contacted on (44) 7910 729 736.