The Waterford Memorial to Captain Patrick Clooney, 88th New York, Irish Brigade

Captain Patrick Clooney Memorial Waterford

Captain Patrick Clooney Memorial in Ballybricken Churchyard, Waterford

Captain Patrick Clooney of the 88th New York, Irish Brigade, was a native of Waterford. He had served with distinction in the Battalion of St. Patrick during the Papal War in 1860, and travelled to the United States in July 1861. He enlisted as a Private in Company K (Meagher’s Zouaves) of the 69th New York State Militia, with whom he fought at First Bull Run. Returning to New York he raised a company for the 88th New York Volunteers and was commissioned a Captain on 2nd October 1861. This regiment became part of the Irish Brigade, and Captain Clooney fought with it through the battles of the Peninsula Campaign in 1862. On 17th September 1862 at Antietam, Maryland, Clooney advanced with his regiment for the final time. Historian of the Irish Brigade David Power Conyngham tells of what happened to the Waterford native:

On the battle-field of Antietam his commanding form could be seen remarkably conspicuous among his comrades. High above the din of battle, his rich, manly voice could be heard encouraging his men and inspiring them to action. To see him unflinchingly and fearlessly stand, like one of the heroes of Grecian lore, sword in hand, his green plume waving in the wind, whilst the leaden hail flew thick and fast around him, you would perceive a sublimity of person, appearance, and of action no pen can portray nor words express. After receiving a severe gunshot wound in the knee, he would not leave the field, though he was urged and entreated repeatedly by his men to do so. No; he still kept his place, until a rifle-bullet passed through his body, killing him instantly. (1)

News of Patrick Clooney’s death in the Irish Brigade assault on the Bloody Lane at Antietam reached Waterford, and in 1863 locals erected a memorial to him in Ballybricken Churchyard near the place of his birth. The monument survives to this day, although it is in serious need of restoration. Waterford historian James Doherty has started a fund in order to finance this much needed work; if you wish to make a donation you can visit his site here.

Clooney Antietam Memorial

Detail of Captain Clooney Memorial recording his rank and service

Captain Clooney Papal Service

Detail of the memorial listing the Papal Battles in which Clooney fought: Castlefidardo, Spoleto and Perugia

Clooney, Irish Brigade, Army of the Potomac

Detail of the Clooney Memorial listing the Battles in which he fought with the Army of the Potomac: Manassas, Malvern Hill, Fair Oaks, Gaines Mill and Antietam

(1) Conyngham 1867: 560;

References & Further Reading

Conyngham, David Power 1867. The Irish Brigade and its Campaigns

Waterford Civil War Veterans

Antietam National Battlefield

Civil War Trust Battle of Antietam Page


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Categories: 88th New York, Battle of Antietam, Irish Brigade, Maryland, New York, Papal Army, Waterford

Author:Damian Shiels

I am an archaeologist based in Ireland, specialising in conflict archaeology.

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13 Comments on “The Waterford Memorial to Captain Patrick Clooney, 88th New York, Irish Brigade”

  1. March 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    His papal war comrades called him “the bravest of the brave” and he showed as much when leading a small band of Irish against hundreds of Piedmontese in the fight at Spoleto, September 13, 1860.

  2. March 25, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Damian, I’m not sure if Gerry Regan already told you about this, but in our “Irish Brigade Assoc” bus trip to Ireland in 1993 we stopped at this cemetery in Waterford and three of us in full Union blue uniforms fired a salute over the Clooney Memorial. We did this without permission, of course. We had to leave our muskets at the local Garda station in every town we stayed in, so we were quite sure permission would never be given for us to fire them. So we said a few words in tribute to him, fired three quick rounds and beat a hasty retreat to our bus and got out of there before we ended up locked up ourselves.

    • March 28, 2011 at 11:31 am #

      Hi Joe,

      I saw the photo of it over at the Waterford Civil War Veterans blog, but didnt realise the backstory, which is fantastic! Fair play to you for doing it, it was a great tribute. Hopefully that is something we can see more of now that things have quietened down in relation to the troubles, as not only is it a fitting tribute it also is a great spectacle and raises local awareness about the areas history.


  3. February 17, 2012 at 12:59 am #


    Headquarters, 88th Regiment N.Y.V. (Irish Brigade) Harpers Ferry, Va. Sept. 30, 1862


    Sirs: The saddest and most painful duty I have ever had to perform now devolves upon me, in having to announce announce the to you the death of a brave soldier, as faithful a friend and as true hearted and patriotic an Irishman as ever crossed the Atlantic. Captain Patrick Felan Clooney of the 88th, whose body now lies mouldering near a valley called Antietam. How this highly talented and gallant young officer came to perish on a foreign battlefield is easily told. Some eighteen or twenty months since when the flag of the Union ‘Beneath whose gloriously folds so many of his countrymen had sought and found a refuge from British oppression was threatened with oppresion , was threatened with destruction , regardless of home and all the endearments he left behind thhe land of his birth and heart’s hope to seal with his noble Celtic blood his devotion to it, and the Constitution of the American Republic. He arrived at New York in the beginning of July, 1862 [1] and enlisted as a private soldier in Co. K. 69th N.Y.S.M. then stationed at Fort Corcoran, Va. He served with that regiment in the three month campaign, and was at the battles of Blackburn’s Ford,and Bull Runn, upon whose bloody field he won the straps which he has since worn with so much honor to himself and credit to that flag he had sworn to protect. After the return home of the 69th he organized a company for the Irish Brigade, and was commissioned as Captain in the 88th on the 2nd of October. From that date till the hour of his death he was never absent from his command. He was present at all the battles of the Peninsula where he nobly distinguished himself, winning the thanks of his General,and brother officers on more than one occasion. On the battlefield of Antietam his commanding form coulod be seen remarkably conspicious among his comrades. High above the din of battle, his rich manly voice could be heard encouraging them to action. To see him unflinchingly and fearlessly stand, like one of the heroes of Greecian lore, sword in hand, his green plume waving in the wind, whilst the leaden balls fflew thick and fast around him, you would preceive a sublimity of person, appearance and of action no pen can portray appearance of action, no pen can portray nor words express. After receiving a severe gunshot wound in the knee, he would not leave the field, though though he was urged and entreated repeatedly by his men to do so. No:he still kept his place, until a rifle bullet passed through his body, killing him instantly. The news of his death spread rapidly through the regiment, and many a manly , fearless heart that never quailed before an enemy, trembled before at the sad intelligence. He was buried where he fell, by those in whose hearts his memory shall be as green as the grass that grows above his grave—by those who can as scarely realize the sad reality —his death. But he rests in the bosom of his Father and his God. The rudely carved and lettered cross of wood that marks his last resting place, whereon is written “HE LIKE A SOLDIER FELL’ speaks more uto the thinking mind than the grandest marble monument in Westminister upon whose polished face the pomp of woe is exhausted by the sculpter’s art, telling of those who rest below, what they had never been. J.W.B. [Lt. John Whitehead Byron]

  4. Daniel Doran
    February 23, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    I was delighted to read the above article as I have a deep interest in all history and genealogy. I am a direct descendent of the man who designed and cut the monument to Captain Clooney. My great great grandfather was James Doran. He came from Bagenalstown to Waterford city in 1855 and set up a business at the end of Johns street near the John’s river. I have always been very proud of the monument he created and I visit it on a regular basis.Credit to all who have raised awareness about the need for it’s restoration.

    • February 24, 2012 at 8:54 am #

      Hi Daniel,

      Many thanks for getting in touch! Your Great Great Grandfather certainly did a fantastic job! James Doherty is currently collecting for the restoration and he would love to hear from you- I will drop you a direct message regarding it.

      Kind Regards,


  5. Sean
    July 10, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    My grandad was thomas clooney was told he was related to captain clooney how do I verifie>

    • July 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      Hi Sean,

      Many thanks for getting in touch. Do you have any information regarding your Grandad e.g. date and place of birth, parents etc.? Are there any indications of how they might be related? Something like can be useful when trying to track information like this, but your first step should be to gather as much family information as you can first off. I would be happy to help in anyway I can in any event!

      Kind Regards,


  6. Mike Fitzpatrick
    March 24, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    Great stuff!!
    Waterford certainly had its share of brave Irish Americans in Clooney and Meagher.
    My maternal grandparents, Dennis and Alice Crotty were from Dungarvan and Cool na Smear. It makes me feel connected to all of this in some way!
    Mike Fitzpatrick
    Massapequa Park, NY

    • March 27, 2014 at 10:24 am #

      Hi Mike,

      Many thanks! When did your grandparents emigrate from Waterford?

      Kind Regards,


      • Mike Fitzpatrick
        March 27, 2014 at 11:19 am #

        Hi, Damian!
        My grandparents must have arrived in the mid to late 1920’s. My Mom was born in 1929 in Brooklyn. I was lucky as a kid because I got to see them pretty frequently.
        My father’s parents, Michael and Ann Fitzpatrick probably arrived in Brooklyn around 1920. My grandfather was from Ennis, Clare and my grandmother was from Glenties, Donegal. I saw them fairly often as a kid.
        In 1997, I made it to Ireland. I never made it to Donegal, but I went and visited relatives and saw the homes and towns my grandparents were from. I had a fantastic time!!…..btw… Mom’s mother was Walsh and my Dad’s mom was Sweeney.
        You do terrific work and your book is a great read!!

      • March 28, 2014 at 10:00 am #

        Hi Mike,

        That is fascinating- a nice spread around the country as well. My own grandfather was from Donegal and spent time near Glenties as well, small world! If you do ever come back you should try to get to Donegal, nicest county in Ireland in my opinion, mind you Clare is also pretty nice! Thanks for the kind words, I do really appreciate them!

        Kind Regards,



  1. Speaking Ill Of The Dead: Eulogies & Enmity For An Irish Brigade Soldier | Irish in the American Civil War - March 22, 2015

    […] Conway’s body was brought back from Maryland together with that of Patrick Clooney, one of the most famed officers in the Brigade’s history. Their remains were ‘conveyed […]

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