Kathleen Gilmartin O. B. E.

Pearse Street, Ballina, Co. Mayo
Pedestrian Footbridge over Ridge Pool on Moy, Ballina
Map County Mayo
U. K. Naval Ensign
Ballina, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Royal Navy

This heroic Mayo women who was the first naval person to be awarded the O. B. E. 

Kathleen Gilmartin was born in Laughty, Ballina.  Her parents were named Thomas & Mary Gilmartin.

She trained as a nurse following her education. (Michael Feeney, page 187 [i]


She enlisted in the Royal Naval Nursing Service.  She was assigned to assist at the H. M. S. Peregrine Station.  [ii]


In a letter to her mother she stated that ‘You will be pleased to hear that I am to be presented with the O. B. E. & that I will be the first women of the Royal Navy to get so great an honour. I saved the lives of a sub – lieutenant & a woman during a heavy air raid on the Station.  I am to go to Buckingham Palace to be presented to the King & to receive the order.  The Captain & Surgeon Commander have congratulated me for my skills in nursing.  The Surgeon is a Sligo man & knew my father.’  [iii]

She also mentioned that Vincent Duffy, a son of Mr. Eugene Duffy of St. Mary’s Villas also worked at the Station.  She continued with the fact that ‘she chanced her life in performing the heroic deed, and that as she was at Holy Communion on the morning of the air raid she did not mind.’

The letter proceeded with:  ‘This is a land station and don’t worry about me.  Send me a Sacred Heart badge and say a few prayers for me.  The war seems to be very bad, but we are well protected here, but . . . . .  I am the first nurse in the Royal Navy to be presented with the honour in this war.’  P. J. Clarke, Mayo People who died in the Blitz in England during the Second World War. (The Western People, 13th Jan. 1999-From The Past ) [iv]


Kathleen Gilmartin was awarded an O.B. E. in 1940 for her heroic conduct during an air raid.  [v]

A Ballina woman, a member of the Royal Naval Nursing Service, has been granted the O.B.E. for heroic conduct during a German air raid during August 1940.  (P. J. Clarke, Mayo People who died in the Blitz in England during the Second World War)  [vi]

An article entitled Mayo Nurses Remembered  in The Connaught Telegraph (page 23)  by Tom Gilliespie 16th June 2020 referenced Kathleen Gilmartin among heroic nurses as he quoted from The Irish Times 17th June 1955. (NBC)


[i]   Remembering Mayo’s Fallen Heroes  [Assessed 8th October 2019]

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Western People [Assessed 8th October 2019]

[v]  Remembering Mayo’s Fallen Heroes

[vi] Western People

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