Ivo O’Sullivan (b. 1934 )
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Ivo O’Sullivan (b. 1934 )


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Track 1: Ivo O’Sullivan’s father, Dr J. Ivo O’Sullivan K.M., and his uncle, Fr Donal O’Sullivan both served in WWI. Ivo explains that his father’s grandfather, Patrick O’Sullivan, was baptised in Kenmare, and his wife was Ellen Leahy of Clash. Ivo’s grandparents had a hardware, fancy goods and grocery business at 5/6 High Street, Killarney. Their son, Fr Donal, was ordained in June 1914 and was tragically killed in 1916 while serving as a British Army chaplain in France. He was buried along with the soldiers who had died, and Ivo recounts the fact that in 1927, the local priest wished to have the remains reinterred in the church graveyard, but Fr Donal’s mother refused the request stating that he would have wished to remain with the soldiers to whom he had ministered. Ivo does not recall why his father, Dr J. Ivo O’Sullivan, had enlisted in the Medical Corps and served with the 5th Connaught Rangers. He saw active service at Gallipoli, Salonika and Ypres and was mentioned twice in dispatches and awarded the Military Cross in 1917. Ivo reads a note from a researcher about Captain J. Ivo O’Sullivan RAMC and the evacuation of the wounded from the battlefield, and he remarks that his father never discussed his war-time experiences. He remarks on the fact that Fr Donal O’Sullivan pleaded to attend the men in the trenches at the frontline. Track 2: Initially Dr J. Ivo served in Gallipoli with the 5th Connaught Rangers, and is mentioned in dispatches as Lieutenant of the Royal Army Medical Corps. In 1917 he served in France with the 29th and 75th Field Ambulance Brigade. He returned to Dublin where he spent nine months on a refresher course after the war and set up business as a general practitioner. Ivo remembers his father’s great attention to detail and how integrity, honour and decency were expected from everyone. He opened the fever hospital in Killarney in 1939 and pioneered the practice of isolation in the treatment of disease. Ivo had three sisters and one sister, Noreen, contracted paralytic polio. She was treated by her father, survived to adulthood and qualified as a doctor. Ivo speaks of his mother, Mary Foley from Killorglin, and her family. He remarks that one of the house staff always had to speak fluent Irish as often patients would speak our native language. During the years of the Emergency, Dr J. Ivo would travel by bicycle as petrol was rationed. Ivo discusses the foundation of the Killarney Golf Club and points out that Dr J. Ivo O’Sullivan, Dr Eamonn O’Sullivan and Henry Downing were the founding members. He speaks about the Brownes of Castlerosse and Kenmare Estate, and their enormous input into Killarney. The 5th Earl was killed in WWI in Belgium in 1915, and Valentine Browne, later to become Lord Castlerosse, was wounded in the right arm during the war and was invalided out. Track 3: Ivo reads a letter written from Bouzincourt in the Somme region of France, addressed to Hannah O’Sullivan. The letter outlines a plan by the local curé to reinter the remains of her son, Fr Donal O’Sullivan, and Ivo explains that she refused permission as she said that her son had gone out to work with the soldiers and he had died with them. He never remembers his father talking about his brother. He speaks of the importance of keeping the memory alive and is glad that his grandchildren have a keen interest. He recalls that when Dr J. Ivo returned to Killarney he felt it was his duty to act as medical officer to the British soldiers remaining there, just as he would treat anybody else. Ivo believes that his father did talk with his contemporaries about the war though not with his children, and he recalls the showing of the Military Cross to members of the Irish Army and their response to it. Track 4: Ivo outlines his father’s return from the war, his career progression over the following decades and his early athletic career. The situation into which Dr J. Ivo returned from the war is discussed. A particular incident is related about his father who, while dressed in his old uniform, dealt with a difficult member of the Black and Tans by confronting the commanding officer who was of a lower rank. Track 5: Dr J. Ivo O’Sullivan died in January 1979 at the age of 89 and is buried with his wife Mary. Ivo recalls receiving letters from retired soldiers who appreciated their treatment by his father and his understanding of their problems particularly in the aftermath of war. Dr J. Ivo had qualified in 1913 and practised as a GP in Chesterfield in England and Ivo speculates that it was possible that his father enlisted in order to supply an income to his widowed mother. Her husband had died in 1908, aged 46, leaving her with eight children to support. Ivo reads a description of the men of the Connaught Rangers and he explains that his father loved fishing, golf and was a keen gardener at his home at New Street, Killarney. Ivo concludes by discussing the history of Ballydowney House and its connection with Robert Emmet.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The Irish Country House and the Great War


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

9.47 MB, 9.66 MB, 9.49 MB, 6.16 MB, 11.77 MB

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Dr Ivo O'Sullivan of Killarney and his service in WWI

Recorded by:

Maurice O'Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore