Episode Twenty-Nine: Sister Norita
This is a very special and important episode for Paul. He discovered that his great uncle, John Patrick Teahan, fought and died in World War One and left behind a published book of diaries documenting his experience. Forty-four journals in total, the diaries were secretly sent back home and the collection sat untouched for seventy years. They were found by Norita’s mother Nora and her sister Grace Keenan Prince, who edited and published them through Oberon Press. Paul went to visit Sister Norita and got the story behind this incredible account of World War One. These stories are important because, as Sister Norita narrated from a piece of testament from the government and the queen and king: “Let those who come after him see that his name be not forgotten.”
John Patrick Teahan was the first man in the Windsor area to enlist on August 14, 1914. For the next two years he kept intimate diaries of his life in the trenches. These were smuggled home and doubled as letters to his family. The story begins with Teahan’s arrival in Plymouth as a corporal in the Royal Canadian Dragoons in November 1914 and ends with his death as a Second Lieutenant at Thiepval in October of 1916.
A note on the episode: In addition to the interview, we’ve recorded and inserted excerpts from the book. There is some family background on where John came from, a discussion on the content of the diaries and the story behind how they got published. Sister Norita mentions a few different people by name, here is a list of those involved in the story:
John Patrick Teahan: author of the diaries.
Denis Teahan I and Johanna Heffernan: John’s grandparents.
Denis Teahan II and Maria Breen: John’s parents.
Frank, Edgar, Charlie and George: John’s brothers.
Nora and Grace: Norita’s mother and sister.