|Born||27 June 1828
Eyrecourt, Galway, Ireland
|Died||14 February 1915 (aged 86)
Westport, Mayo, Ireland
|Buried at||Westport Old Cemetery|
|Unit||75th Regiment of Foot
Cornelius Coughlan VC (Irish: Conchobhar Ó Cochláin; 27 June 1828, Eyrecourt, County Galway – 14 February 1915) was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
He was 28 years old, and a Colour Sergeant in the 75th Regiment of Foot (later The Gordon Highlanders), British Army during the Indian Mutiny when the following action took place on 8 June and 18 July 1857 at Delhi, India for which he was awarded the VC:
For gallantly venturing, under a heavy fire, with three others, into a Serai occupied by the Enemy in great numbers, and removing Private Corbett, 75th Regiment, who lay severely wounded. Also for cheering and encouraging a party which hesitated to charge down a lane in Subzee Mundee, at Delhi, lined on each side with huts, and raked by a cross fire; then entering with the said party into an enclosure filled with the Enemy, and destroying every man. For having also, on the same occasion, returned under a cross fire to collect dhoolies, and carry off the wounded ; a service which was successfully performed, and for which this man obtained great praise from the Officers of his Regiment.
Queen Victoria wrote a personal letter to Sgt Major Coughlan after hearing about his acts of bravery.
He died in Westport, County Mayo on 14 February 1915 and is buried locally in Aughavale Cemetery near Murrisk.
In August 2004 a retired Irish Army Officer, Captain Donal Buckley of Military Heritage Tours erected a headstone at the previously unmarked grave in Aughavale Cemetery, Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland. The Irish Defence Minister unveiled the headstone and in so doing the Irish Government formally recognized for the first time the Irish Nationalist Catholic tradition in the British Army. The ceremony was attended by the British Ambassador and the British Defence Attaché. Many Regimental, ex-servicemen and historical associations from Ireland and the UK attended and participated in the ceremony which followed an ecumenical service.
More than 500 people, including descendants from Bradford and Glasgow in the UK, watched as 10 Connaught Rangers re-enactors from Ireland and the UK fired a volley of shots over his grave*.
Listed in order of publication year
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (1981, 1988 and 1997)
- Clarke, Brian D. H. (1986). "A register of awards to Irish-born officers and men". The Irish Sword. XVI (64): 185–287.
- Ireland's VCs (Dept of Economic Development, 1995)
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- Irish Winners of the Victoria Cross (Richard Doherty & David Truesdale, 2000)
- "Sgt. Major Cornelius Coughlan VC", James Scannell, in Journal of the Genealogical Society of Ireland, vol. 5 no. 4, winter 2004, pp. 254–256.
- Coughlan VC