Runaghan, James (No. 2499)

Runaghan, James (Cha)


No. 2499, 7th Battalion, Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians)

Killed in action on Sunday 3 September 1916 (aged 39)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 16C)

Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour


In some records and reports his surname is spelt Ronaghan, in others Runeghen, in others Runningan, in others Runnahan and in others Ranaghan.

The death of Private James Runaghan (known as Cha) was reported in the 16 September 1916 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle under the headline Well-Known Footballer Killed.  Some years earlier Cha Runaghan had played centre forward for Belfast Celtic and it was reported in the Newtownards Chronicle that, when he was on the staff of the Royal North Downs and living in Newtownards, he played for the Ards Football Club.

James Runaghan was born on 2 August 1877 in Belfast and he was a son of Owen and Anna Runaghan (nee McPherson, sometimes McPhearson) who were married on 14 January 1871 in Belfast.  They had at least nine children:

Margaret (born 3 May 1874)

Catherine (born 23 April 1876)

James (born 3 August 1877)

John (born 1 January 1880)

Alice (born 6 January 1882)

Alexander (born 1 July 1884)

Catherine (born 12 October 1888)

Michael (born 20 December 1890)

Owen (born 15 January 1894)

James Runaghan worked as a general labourer and he and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Kelly were married on 23 November 1907 in St Peter’s  Roman Catholic Church, Belfast.  They lived in Ross Street, Belfast and at 3 Milton Street, Belfast.

James and Elizabeth Runaghan had at least five children:

Sarah (born 11 October 1908)

Annie (born 4 May 1910)

Mary (born 1 May 1911)

Matilda (born 8 March 1913)

James (born 8 September 1914)

James Runaghan enlisted in Belfast and during the Great War he served with the Leinster Regiment.

Private James Runaghan (No. 2499) was killed in action at Guillemont on 3 September 1916, less than six months after his brother John had been killed in action.

John Runaghan (No. 2329) served with the Connaught Rangers and was killed in action by a shell explosion on 28 March 1916.  He was buried in Dud Corner Cemetery in France.  John was the husband of Mary Ann Runaghan and before the war he worked for the street-cleaning section of Belfast Corporation.

Private James Runaghan (No. 2499) has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France.  Both James and John Runaghan are commemorated in the Belfast Book of Honour (Page 567).

Two other brothers, Alexander and Owen Runaghan, served in the Great War and survived.