Anne Purdon (b. 1927)
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Anne Purdon (b. 1927)


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Track 1: Anne Purdon’s family originally came from Scotland and they later owned a brewery in Drogheda, Co. Louth. Her father, Tom Cairnes, was a soldier in the 4/7th Dragoon Guards and he married Anne’s mother in India. During WWI, he joined the Royal Flying Corps, initially as an observer. As he had only one eye he was known as the ‘Cyclops Pilot.’ Her great-grandfather, William Cairnes, had founded Cairnes Ale Brewery in Drogheda, which is no longer in existence. Her paternal uncle, William Cairnes, was also in the Royal Flying Corps, but he was shot down and he died. Anne recalls her father as a nice gentleman who never spoke about his war experiences. Her oldest uncle, Francis Herbert, was gassed during WWI but he survived to a good age. Her father, Tom Cairnes, set up a garage and he was also chairman of the family brewery, though unfortunately none of his letters survive from that time. During WWII, Colonel Tom Cairnes, along with Colonels Potts and The McGillycuddy, were in defence during the blitz on the Antrim Road in Belfast. Anne recalls the wife and children of Air Marshal Eric Brookes who lived with her family, as her father had brought them to the house at Stameen for their safety. She describes her childhood home and she discusses the Local Defence Force which her brother had joined before enlisting with Irish Guards. The Cairnes Trust that still exists today is mentioned and Anne provides some details of the Cairnes family history. She talks about her husband, Denis Purdon of Lisnabin, who joined the British Army directly following his schooling, and his attendance at the Nuremberg war trials. Denis’ father Samuel and his three brothers (Charles, Denis and Hardress) served in WWI, and Anne has a collection of letters written by Charles and Samuel. She also talks discusses the Purdon family history in Ireland. Track 2: Anne reads from some of Samuel Purdon’s letters written in WWI. She says that he was badly wounded when a trench fell in, and having lost his memory for three weeks, he was sent back to the Front where he was subsequently wounded and invalided out. Some photographs of the family are examined and discussed.

Additional information



Audio series:

The Irish Country House and the Great War


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

10.12 MB, 14.42 MB, 9.70 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



The Cairnes and Purdon families’ service in WWI

Recorded by:

Maurice O'Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore