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November 13, 2011

Being Remembrance Sunday it seemed appropriate to honour those Irish people who fought in the Great War. As anyone who has studied Irish history knows, for a long time it seemed like these people had been forgotten. This was of course due to the changing political circumstances in Ireland after the 1916 Easter Rising. I guess for a long time the majority of people felt that if we were to honour those who took part in 1916 then we had to ignore those who fought in Europe at the same time. Thankfully the mindset in Ireland is gradually changing and we are no longer confined to such a narrow definition of Irishness.

From 1914 to 1918 some 350,000 Irishmen from the island of Ireland and from many parts of the world participated in the Great War that destroyed much of Europe and cost so many lives. Some 50,000 were already active in British regiments.  The motivations of Irish servicemen greatly varied; some simply needed the pay, some believed in the nobility of war, while others believed in the cause of standing up for small nations such as Belgium. There was also a political element, some Irish fought in the hopes of gaining Home Rule for Ireland and others fought to maintain the Union between Ireland and Britain.  But while reasons for being there may have varied, the common human tragedy of the more than 30,000 lives lost to Ireland should be remembered and better understood.

For Armistice Day on Friday I attended a short ceremony at the World War 1 memorial here in Cork.




It was nice to see a good attendance at the ceremony

The WW1 memorial in Cork was erected on March 17th 1925. Despite the changed political situation in Ireland there was still a huge attendance. A picture taken at the time shows the South Mall crowded with people. It is one of the few example Irish examples of its type. Carved in relief on a modest limestone obelisk, sitting on a plinth, is the profile of a Munster Fusiliers soldier in full military uniform, head down, gun at rest. The monument was restored in 2008 and the black marbel panels on either side were added.

Details on the text of the memorial can be found here:

With the centenary of World War 1 approaching, hopefully awareness and understanding will continue to grow in Ireland. Regardless of our politics or how we view war, to forget those who fought would be a grave injustice.

For anyone who wants to know more about the role of the Irish in general and people from Cork in the war there is a lot of information out there:

For those who want to find out information on their own family involvement in the war, it is worth getting in contact with groups like the Western Front Association who now have a branch in Cork. Through their research they have collected a large amount of information on Cork veterans of the Great War.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Tony Creed permalink
    November 13, 2011 6:05 pm

    As a child, born in the Grand Parade, in the late 40’s early 50’s the area around the monument was like a playground to me. I did not know at that time what the monument represented but recall many times being told by elderly men that I should not go near the monument because of it’s links to Britain. As you mention the mindset is changing and I feel that is a good thing.

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