Getting to the Dardanelles

Christopher A. Dixon was born on the 1st of March 1898. In the years leading up to his involvement in world war one he had to endure the horrors of St Joseph’s Industrial School in Tralee, Co. Kerry.

From 1901 census records, I learned that Christopher, always known as Christy, was three years old and living with his family:  Father Thomas, 40, mother Catherine (Kate), 28, and their other two sons, Patrick, 4, and Thomas, 1, at 205 Phibsboro Road on Dublin’s north side.

By the time of the 1911 census, after two more additions to the family–an unnamed girl and boy–my great grandfather Thomas had died. Catherine, Christy’s mam, 38, was living at Glengariff Parade with her brother Michael, 31. These were the only two people counted at that address, Head of house Michael and his sister Catherine. Christopher and Thomas were counted on the census form as living at St Joseph school. I could not find any reference to Patrick in the 1911 census.

From what my mother, Betty, told me, Christy never spoke of any of his traumatic events at the school throughout his life. It was Elsie, my Mam’s sister, who told me about St. Joe’s just a few years ago.

While telling me about the school, Elsie burst into tears. She said that it was one of the places that had sexually and physically abused young boys and that she could not imagine how he survived. The government treated it lightly; they didn’t go after any of these men. But the school isn’t there anymore.

My Cousin Debby Raymond done a lot of leg work to get us this information, well done you!


So my grandfather is not forgotten.

January 1st, 2015, is the centenary of my grandfather, Christopher Alphonsus Dixon, enlisting in the British Army, a day that would lead him into the First World War to fight at Gallipoli in the straits of the Dardanelles.

He was 17 years old but lied about his age. Here is his war record:

War record

War record

Christopher was hit by a Turkish soldier’s bullet, in the elbow joint on his left arm. He could never raise the arm above the shoulder for the rest of his life.

My grandfather must have seen the romance of the Dardanelles as a vacation abroad compared to the horrors of St Joseph’s industrial school in Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, where he had lived for several years. A place now gone, but which fits well into the annals of depravity in my country.

Below are some pictures of him before and after his injury.

Christopher Dixon with white sling after his injury.

Christopher Dixon with white sling after his injury.

Christopher Dixon before  being injured.

Christopher Dixon before being injured.