Saturday, July 7, 2012

The annual ceremony to commemorate the Irish of past wars was held at the National Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge in Dublin this afternoon. 

The unionist Lord Mayor of Belfast has joined his Dublin counterpart in paying tribute together to the shared sacrifice of Ireland's war dead. Gavin Robinson, of the Democratic Unionist Party, and Dublin first citizen Naoise O Muiri laid wreaths at the annual remembrance ceremony at the National War Memorial Gardens in Dublin. 

The Royal British Legion Ireland event commemorates the involvement of nearly half a million from the island of Ireland who served during the First World War, 50,000 of whom were killed. Mr Robinson said: "It is important that along with the Lord Mayor of Dublin I lay a wreath that acknowledges people from the Republic of Ireland and people from the north. They collectively spilt blood together and sacrificed themselves for us and it is important that we acknowledge that."

 The Queen of England took part in a similar ceremony and left flowers at Islandbridge last year.  Old comrades associations linked to the Legion still honour the regiments which fought in 1914 - including the Connaught Rangers, the Dublin Fusiliers, the Royal Irish Regiment and the Rifles. Representatives from Legion branches throughout Ireland were on parade together with visitors from Wales and England. 

The Irish Government was represented by Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald and ambassadors were headed by the recently appointed UK ambassador Dominic Chillcot. Music was provided by the Defence Forces No 1 Army Band and choristers from Tramore Ladies Choir sang hymns. Around 300 people were present - they even brought two Irish wolfhounds. There was an ecumenical service, prayers and music. 

One Korean War veteran, 80-year-old Major Michael Kearney MBE, was bristling with medals and also had some earned by his father in the Boer War. Some 31,500 of John Redmond's National Volunteers joined the First World War effort. Around 26,000 unionists from the north and south of Ireland enlisted. 

After the War of Independence and Civil War forged a new Irish Free State for the southern 26 counties, commemorating war service became unfashionable. But the remembrance ceremony tradition was reinstated in the 1980s and has occurred annually since then. 

This was the first event since the Irish Government said it will pardon 5,000 soldiers branded deserters and blacklisted for fighting for Britain against Nazi Germany. A campaign organization for the pardon is now disbanding and laid the last wreath. On it was the message: "Honoured to the last, these brave and noble men so long denied and vilified now take their place among our heroes of the past."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stephen were you there at the ceremony in Islandbridge because I was by accident as I had gone there as I usually do for a walk!! To be honest with you as an Irish man I found the ceremony so moving to think all the the men who gave their lives...but I also found that i was like at a ceremony in England...which I certainly was very uncomfortable with!! Probably you did not feel that at the ceremony because you were not born here and fortunately for you, you dont a I do feel it is emotionally difficult....Look forward to your thoughts on this... BTW you will be aware our "man" Gordon D'arcy married a girl!!! how cold