Archbishop criticises writing out of history Irish Catholics who died in WWI

Eamon Martin say fact Catholics and Protestants fought together has been neglected by all sides

Dr Eamonn Martin: ‘People preferred to cling on to a history of difference and separation, rather than recognise and embrace our shared story of common suffering.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

Dr Eamonn Martin: ‘People preferred to cling on to a history of difference and separation, rather than recognise and embrace our shared story of common suffering.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The Archbishop of Armagh Dr Eamon Martin has criticised the writing out of history of Irish Catholics who died in the first World War.

Archbishop Martin unveiled a plaque at Inishowen in Co Donegal to the men of the area who died in the war, including his granduncle Edward Doherty.

Gunner Doherty was killed on September 19th, 1917 during the Battle of Passchendaele and is buried in Canada Farm Cemetery outside Ypres, Belgium. His brother Patrick also signed up and fought in the war, though he survived.

Archbishop Martin said Irish Catholics who had fought in the war had been written out of history for generations “because of the cruel and crazy tensions of our own history of conflict”.

The fact that Irish Catholics and Protestants fought together in the first World War had been neglected “perhaps conveniently - by all sides.

“People preferred to cling on to a history of difference and separation, rather than recognise and embrace our shared story of common suffering.”

Archbishop Martin recalled visiting his granduncle’s grave in Ypres and then visiting the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Messines, Belgium.

“Standing at war memorials, wearing poppies and laying wreaths may not have been part of my tradition or growing up, but remembering, honouring and praying for the dead is important to the practice of my faith,” he said.

“In recent years I have grown to respect and understand more fully that, whilst we may remember in different ways, what unites us is so much greater and stronger than anything that is talked up to divide us.”

The plaque was unveiled at Saint Patrick’s Church, Iskaheen after evening mass in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Muff.

Archbishop Martin recalled visiting his granduncle’s grave in Ypres

Benedictine order

A delegation from Ypres is visiting Kylemore Abbey, Co Galway this weekend to remember a congregation of Irish nuns who had to flee the Belgian town in August 1914.

The Benedictine order fled first to Britain and then to Ireland. Among the order’s nuns was Dame Teresa, the niece of the Irish Party leader John Redmond and his brother Major Willie Redmond who was killed in the war.

The delegation, including Jef Verschoore, the first deputy Mayor of Ypres, and representatives of the In Flanders Fields museum, will visit Kylemore Abbey in Co Galway which is run by the same order of nuns.

The order purchased the castle and its estate in 1920 and it has been home to them ever since.

Commenting on the visit of the Belgian delegation, Lady Abbess Sr Maire Hickey said: “Sunday’s visit by the Belgian delegation is a chance for poignant reflection of times past and the shared history between our order and the city of Ypres. Ireland and Belgium have stronger links than is commonly known. For several hundred years there were many Benedictine nuns in Ypres until the First World War forced the order to leave. It has been a history which has seen both joy and tragedy.

“This historic visit will be a moment to reflect on our shared past and celebrate the links that bond us together.”