Monday, 28 September 2009

Search is on for Swansea Rorke's Drift connection

Swansea's Lord Mayor is helping a family research a relative with links to the famous battle of Rorke's Drift.

Cllr Alan Lloyd hopes local information may be key to helping Dennis Dwyer, of Mumbles Road, find out more information about his great grandfather- a man called James Hagan who survived the Zulu attack at Rorke's Drift in 1879.

Mr Dwyer is helping his sister, Maria Kerr, with the research of their family history.

So far been they've been able to find out that Mr Hagan moved to Wales to escape the poverty in Ireland before fighting for Queen and country in Africa.

Mr Hagan then travelled back to the UK, married a lady called Catherine Barry in Treforest and brought up a large family before his burial in an unmarked grave in Glyntaff.

Mrs Kerr was able to put a name to the grave after discovering an historic document and making contact with the Royal Regiment of Wales Museum in Brecon.

She said: "I grew up hearing my great grandfather had fought and survived the famous Anglo-Zulu war. Members of my family had researched a James Egan and had said there were no records of him but when I asked my Aunt about him she showed me a scroll that had been wrapped up in a plastic bag for an eternity.

"I took it to the museum in Brecon and they explained it was given to survivors of the battle by the Mayor of Durban. I then got a copy of my great grandfather's marriage certificate and contacted the church to see if they had any further information.

"They confirmed that his name was actually James Hagan and that he was buried in an unmarked plot in Glyntaf."

Cllr Lloyd attended a dedication service in Mr Hagan's memory earlier this month and has felt compelled to help the family with their research.

He said: "It was a very moving service that paid tribute to a man who led a very eventful life.

"I was touched and fascinated by his story and I hope someone in the Swansea area will have information that may help Mr Dywer and Mrs Kerr find out more about their great grandfather and his family."

Mrs Kerr has also found out that her great grandfather's next of kin while he was serving in the military was his sister, a lady called Mary Ann Hagan.

Her great-grandfather was from Neenagh in County Tipperary.

She has no other information about his immediate family and is hoping someone may be able to point her in the right direction.

Mrs Kerr said: "It's very possible that someone in the Swansea area either knows of a relative who will have served alongside James Hagan in the Anglo-Zulu war or knows someone who is related to him in some way.

"I've enjoyed the research immensely so far but I've hit an impasse and any help anybody could give would be much-appreciated."

Contact Mrs Kerr or Mr Dwyer on if you have information or family history expertise that can help.


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