Tag Archives: Royal Dublin Fusiliers

Update about Remembrance, October 23rd at Pearse St Library

 A reminder about Remembrance at Dublin’s Pearse Street Library on Thursday October 23 at 5.30.

We’ll have four students from Mount Carmel Secondary School for Girls, Kings Inn Street Dublin 1: Shannon who will tell the story of the Last Post and its nightly connection to Menem Bridge. Paula will read some letters from the front, taken from the file of Monica Roberts and recently digitised by Dublin City Libraries. Mildred will read a poem by Seamus Heaney while Aneta will read a poem by a Nobel prize-winning Polish poet.

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Don’t forget booking is adviseable on 01  6744888. Watch this space when I’ll be writing about the music we’ll have on the night.

Till then…

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Remembrance: a little music, some poetry and the Last Post…

Here’s what happening in Dublin on Thursday October 23rd. Would you like to join us to remember people in Ireland affected by the First World War?

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Paula Meehan is reading some of her poems and trumpeter Dominic Nolan will play the Last Post….

Tom Burke will talk about a private in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, four school students will tell us what they think of war, a ukulele band will play some music of the period and the Ringsend Singers will get us to pack up our troubles….

Dublin’s Pearse Street Library. Thursday October 23rd  from 5:30  to 7:30.

Admission is free but booking is adviseable on 01 6744888

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Anzac Day April 25th 2014




Anzac Day and a special one as it marks the centenary of the start of the Great War. In Dublin’s Grangegorman Cemetery, there was a gathering as there is every year – the Dawn Service. We stood at 06:30, among the trees, under a blue sky and with the birds singing overhead, thinking about the men – so many young men – who died in Gallipoli and of all the people elsewhere who died in wars not of their making. For myself, I thought of the young Aborigine boy whose grave I had recently visited in Flanders. He was from Raukkan in South Australia, had lied about his age in order to enlist and within a year, was dead behind German lines, still not eighteen.

Today, the gathering included the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, diplomatic representatives from New Zealand, military people from both countries as well as Irish people wearing the blue cap of the UN.  Zeki Guler from the Turkish Embassy read from Ataturk’s famous Epilogue. ( Ataturk had fought at Gallipoli  as had many local Irish soldiers who had enlisted in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.)

Here is a short extract, an address to the mothers who had lost children in Turkey:

You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away to countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.

I thought of the Aborigine mother of Rufus Rigney who lost not one but two sons in the Great War, a war fought in a place so distant  she may well have never heard of it.

There were readings and the annual Anzac Address, give this year by Professor Jeff Kildea, a visiting academic from Australia.If you want to know more about the Irish who enlisted in the Australian armed forces, check out his website. You’ll learn a few surprising things about that part of history.



There was poetry, two poems in fact, both called Flanders Fields. Here is one of them:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That marks our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

There was harp music too and finally the Last Post. Then, because Australians are  cheery people, the Embassy treated us, as usual, to hot dogs and coffee laced with rum.


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My RTE programme about Irishmen in the British army.

I made a radio doc for RTE about Irish men who had fought in the British Army. When they returned home, they felt unable to talk about it and so their stories went untold.


In the programme, we hear the voices of some of their children.


Here it is. You may have to copy and paste it: 


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Irish memories of World War 1.

Memorabilia of WW1 at the  National Library of Ireland, Dublin. March 21 2012


Just back from the National Library in Dublin’s Kildare Street. It was packed, throbbing with people who had brought their memorabilia to have digitised and then added to similar records that are being collected throughout Europe.

It was marvellous – as well as  moving – to see people displaying  scrap books of their relatives’ bits and pieces from the war. There were letters, medals, maps, insignia, photographs, a whistle attached to a plaited bit of rope, all handled with care, lives laid out and displayed for the library staff to look at and explain or talk about. In the digitising room, I saw a small cross made out of wood, each bit wrapped in silver cigarette paper, the whole lot preserved ( how?) inside a bottle of (holy?) water. There was also an intricately-built handcrafted model of an early aircraft with a wingspan of about one foot.

   People sat in rows with their offerings, waiting to be called to have their things logged. Some 400 people came today and many were disappointed to be turned away without being able to register their memorabilia. No one expected so many people.( A similar day was held in Germany when 100 people attended.)  Each person is allocated about 15 minutes to talk about what they have brought but for many, this is not nearly long enough. People talk in low voices, anxious that the library staff understand how precious each things is. The Library intends to hold another day to cater for those turned away today.

 Most Dubliners will have memorabilia from the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association which has done great work collecting an archive. Their website is www.greatwar.ie

Some of their members are part of the organisation called Living History and were there today in the uniform of their grandfathers, aunts, cousins, uncles. Everyone was touched by that war.

For me, with my current interest in Syria, it is a link to that country since many  Irish soldiers were engaged in fighting the Ottomans or the Turks as they were called.

This is a joint effort by  the Europeanna 1914-1918 Roadshow some of whose staff  were in Dublin today to help out.

Here is a link to the radio programme I made for RTE a few years ago.It is about men who fought in WW1 but rarely spoke about it.  The programme is called The Tin Box. It too will be digitised and made available online.



Some 206.000  Irishmen fought in the British Army in WW1.



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