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Residents on the case of 100-year-old cigarette box

Monday, 16th April, 2018 2:16pm

Residents on the case of 100-year-old cigarette box

Jim Doherty with the 100-year-old case

Louise Walsh

Residents in Co. Meath are eager to end a 30-year old mystery, which started with the discovery of a 100 year-old World War 1 cigarette case buried in nearby woods.

The almost perfect sterling silver case – which is inscribed with the words Private J Cummins 1914-1918 -  was found sticking out of the mud at the base of a tree by then young friends out walking in Stackallen, near Slane in the late 1980s.

Some of those friends Emma Cullen and James Doherty now want to find out who the mystery soldier was and why he was in the area

So far, research carried out by the pair, have yielded no results.

It was a St Patrick’s Day parade float this year, that jolted Emma’s memory about the case and her resolve to finally try and discover its owner’s identity.

“There was a group of us out walking in the woods back in 1987 and a few of us spotted the case half-buried in the mud at the base of a tree,” said James.

“It was brought back to Emma’s and cleaned up and then, just forgotten about as the demands of everyday life took over.   Sure she was only about eight or nine when the case was found.

“It was only when Emma saw a float in the Slane St Patrick’s Day parade, which listed all those local soldiers who fought in World War I, that she remembered the case and came to me to help try and solve the mystery.

“The case is about four by three inches and the sterling silver is inscribed with the words Pte J Cummins 1914-1918.

“There were straps which originally held the cigarettes in place but these are long gone now.  The front is dented a bit but there still is a curve where the case could sit in a pocket and take on the shape of the body.”

James, who is now in his 60s, and Emma have temporarily given the case to the Francis Ledwidge Museum in Slane, where it is now on display.

“There were no Private J Cummins’ living around here at the time so maybe he was home from the war and visiting friends, relatives or even had romantic connections here.  We just don’t know.

“We would love to unravel the mystery of who he was and why he was rambling in the area and maybe meet some of his family,” he said.

Anyone with any information on who Private J Cummins might have been, can contact the Ledwidge Museum in Slane.

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