Captain John Lonergan (1837 - 1902)

Medal of Honor Recipient

John Lonergan was born in Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary  on April 7, 1839  to Thomas Lonergan and Mary Lonergan (nee Nolan).  John was the oldest of the six children.  The three oldest were born in Ireland, the others in the United States.

John's father, Thomas, was a cooper by trade who worked in or whose business was dependant on the local slate quarries  .

There is no information readily available regarding Lonergan's early education. However,  it would be reasonable to assume that he attended one of the local primary schools established  in 1831 shortly after the easing of the Penal Laws. 

In 1845, when John was six years old the first sign of blight appeared on the potato stalk. The tuber underneath was mushy - it had rotted away.

It was inconceivable, at that time, to contemplate the devastation and horror that would befall  the people of Ireland during  the subsequent five years. John Mitchel summed it up best in his book "The Last Conquest of Ireland" published in 1861 in which he accused England of "deliberate murder" for their actions during the "Famine" years of 1845 to 1850.(1) 

In 1848 the Lonergan's emigrated to the Unites States. The famine, or more accurately the Great Hunger, was a contributing factor to their exile. Its also possible that the Young Ireland Rising of 1848 may have contributed as Ballingarry, not far from Lonergan hometown, was the locus for that abortive but, nonetheless, significant event in Irish history in that it demonstrated continued resistance to British rule in Ireland. The only clue that the failed Rising may have been a factor was that a John Nolan who lived on the same street as the Lonergan's was arrested for forging pikes. Its possible that John Nolan was related to John's mother who maiden name was Nolan.

After all Tipperary, particularly south-east Tipperary, was the breeding ground for many of Ireland's greatest patriots. John, as he later demonstrated, followed in their footsteps by answering  the call of freedom in Ireland and America.

The Lonergan's on arrival in The United States settled in Vermont. The reason they choose Vermont was due to the availability of work in the slate quarries concentrated in the Taconic Mountains region of Vermont and New York, known as the "Slate Valley".  Another reason why they choose Vermont was to be with former friends or neighbors who had settled there earlier and who could assist them in finding shelter and work.

When John finished school he joined his father's coopering business.

cemetery AND grave location

Name:    Saint Joseph Cemetery                                PHONE NO.    (802) 862-1530

ADDRESS:   Burlington, Chittenden County, Vermont, USA

LOCATION:  Plot: Section F, Lot 85



click on image to read headstone inscription

Back to Biographies  

Posted  5/30/2014