Irish soldiers to be honoured

Thu, Oct 14, 2010, 01:00

The unmarked graves of 43 Irish soldiers who died after serving with the British Army will be recognised on Remembrance Day, it was revealed today.

Headstones will be erected in honour of the Irish servicemen and women who lost their lives as a result of the first World War and second World War.

Relatives of the troops, whose names are listed on the the Glasnevin Trust website, are asked to come forward for an ecumenical service in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery on November 11th.

Historian Shane MacThomais said the war dead were part of history. Their graves will be marked under a project by the Trust and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

“These people are somewhat the forgotten people, anonymous people, who joined the British Army and lost their lives,” said Mr MacThomais.

“They were buried in unmarked graves and forgotten about generation after generation.”

The majority of the 41 men and two women were in their late teens or early 20s when they died. Many were poor, living in workhouses or tenements, and had contracted the Spanish flu or infections from combat wounds.

Mr MacThomais revealed other soldiers had been gassed in the trenches in France and Gallipoli, discharged and came home to Dublin, where they later died from the knock-on effects like diseases of the lungs.

While many poor families could simply not afford to buy a grave for loved ones, he revealed other soldiers, shamed for joining the British forces, had served under false names.

Mr MacThomais added: “In 1914 it was very popular to join the British Army, but by 1918 it was very unpopular so these people would come home and say nothing.”

More than 200 soldiers who served with the British Army are buried in Glasnevin, with 86 in unpurchased separate graves which are scattered throughout the cemetery.

Also buried in Ireland’s Necropolis are some of the country’s most famous political figures and patriots, including Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, Eamon De Valera and Charles Stewart Parnell.

The 43 headstones will be laid out in front of the cemetery museum during the service and placed on the graves after November 11th.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, with the Glasnevin Trust, plan to erect headstones on the remaining 43 graves next year.