PRIVATE CHARLES IRWIN VC (1825-1873) – recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Charles was the eldest son of Launcelot and Mary Irwin, farmers, of Well Park in the townland of Moneenshinnagh/Foxfield, Manorhamilton.  He was born on 1st January 1825 and christened in the local Church of Ireland parish church.  When still only seventeen, Charles joined the British army, enlisting in the 18th Royal Irish Regiment in Sligo on 4th July 1842.  The regiment was posted to India and the Far East.  Charles served in the campaign in Burma in 1852-3 and took part in the attack and capture of Rangoon.   Sometime afterwards he transferred to the 53rd Shropshire Regiment with which he soldiered through the Indian Mutiny in 1857-9.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the relief of Lucknow in Northern India.  The citation which was published in the London Gazette of 24th December 1858 reads as follows:  ‘For conspicuous bravery at the taking of the Secundra Bagh fortress at Lucknow on 16th November 1857.  Although severely wounded through the right shoulder, he was one of the first men of the 53rd Regiment who entered the building under a very heavy fire’.  Following the Indian Mutiny, Irwin joined the Royal Irish Fusiliers who were posted to China.  The regiment was recalled to England after the fall of Pekin in December 1860.  Charles spent some time in the Royal Hospital in Chelsea and was discharged from the army four years later.  He returned to Ireland and settled near Newtownbutler, Co. Fermanagh – possibly with a relative who lived there.  He died in March or April 1873 at the age of 48 and is buried in Aghadrumsee Graveyard, Rosslea.  Irwin’s Victoria Cross is held in Shrewsbury Castle in Shropshire.