Collie soldier's Victoria Cross will be put on show at the National Museum of Ireland

Pte Martin O'Meara

Pte Martin O'Meara

The Victoria Cross awarded to Collie resident Martin O'Meara for his exploits during WWI will be loaned to Ireland after the Federal Government changed the rules to allow the medal to leave the country.

Private O'Meara was the only Irish-born Australian soldier awarded a Victoria Cross during WWI, but he became estranged from his family during a trip back to Ireland in 1917.

The medal eventually ended up in the Army Museum of Western Australia, at Fremantle, along with five other Victoria Crosses.

Ireland's Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has announced that Pte O'Meara's Victoria Cross will be loaned to the National Museum of Ireland later this year.

Australia has prohibited the export of Victoria Crosses since the 1980s, but changes to the regulations were made to allow Pte O'Meara's to be loaned to Ireland.

Though O'Meara was born in Ireland in 1885, he settled in Australia and was working as a sleeper hewer at Collie when he enlisted in 1915.

His Victoria Cross was awarded for his actions at Mouquet Farm in 1916, where he was credited with saving the lives of more than 25 wounded men.

Pte O'Meara died in Perth in 1935, aged 50, having spent the years after the war in a mental institution.

His biographer, Ian Loftus, said having Pte O'Meara's medal on display in Ireland was important.

"He was Australia's only Irish-born Victoria Cross recipient of the First World War and this will be the first time his VC medal has been to Ireland since 1917," he said.

"Martin O'Meara was both an Irishman and a West Australian... we are fortunate that the Army Museum of WA at Fremantle has Martin O'Meara's VC medal."

This story WWI medal to be loaned to Ireland first appeared on Collie Mail.