Michael Donlon Monument

250 Gypsy Lane • Meriden, CT • New Haven County

Historical Significance

Michael Donlon (1876-1909) was born in Galway, Ireland, but by 1909 he was living with his uncle on Pratt Street in Meriden, Connecticut. He had been working as a porter at the Meriden railroad station for about three years at the beginning of 1909. On January 2 of that year, he was moving one of the baggage trucks towards the north end of the station to meet the New York to Boston express train which was due to stop in Meriden at 2:12 pm. As the train was nearing the station, he noticed a woman and child on the tracks in the path of the oncoming locomotive. According to witnesses, he unhesitatingly rushed to their aid and pushed them out of harm's way before being struck by the train himself.

Photo: Headstone view west. (Jan Franco)

Photo: Headstone inscription. (Jan Franco)

He died later that night without regaining consciousness. One newspaper account states, "The accident occurred in sight of throngs of travelers and holiday idlers, who were unstinted (sic) in their praise of the man's bravery and shocked by the sacrifice he had made." The Mayor was so moved by Donlon's act of heroism that he nominated him for a Carnegie Hero Fund award, which was later awarded to Donlon posthumously. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission awards the Carnegie Medal to individuals in the United States and Canada who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others. The fund also sometimes provides a stipend to the surviving family of those who die in the rescue or attempted rescue.

Donlon was a member of Division 2 of the Meriden Ancient Order of Hibernians. They moved quickly to honor their fallen member and collected funds for a monument to be placed on his grave. The monument was dedicated on June 6, 1909 with speeches by the Mayor and The president of the AOH. Two thousand people attended the ceremony.

On May 31, 2009, the Meriden AOH held an event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Donlon's heroism. It was attended by descendants of both Donlon and the woman and child he saved, as well as many members of the public.


“Brave Soul Honored by Hibernians.” The Meriden Daily Journal. June 7, 1909.

Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. “Michael Donlon.” August 24, 2009.

“Donlon Monument Dedication Day.” The Meriden Daily Journal. June 5, 1909.

“Hero Commission Notified.” Meriden Morning Record. January 7, 1909.

“Heroic Michael Donlon Fatally Hurt Today.” The Meriden Daily Journal. January 2, 1909

“Saved Two Lives Then Met Death.” Meriden Morning Record. January 4, 1909.

“Unsung immigrant hero celebrated 100 years later.” Meriden Record-Journal. June 1, 2009.

Additional Information

Date(s):  Dedicated: 1909
Artist:  W. J. Luby

Exterior visible from public road.

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