Stand side by side to honour all Ireland’s dead of 1916, service told

Different mythologies of first World War contributed to deep divisions on this island

 President Michael D Higgins and Major General David O’Morchoe, President Royal British Legion, lay wreaths at the Remembrance Sunday service, at St Patrick’s cathedral, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

President Michael D Higgins and Major General David O’Morchoe, President Royal British Legion, lay wreaths at the Remembrance Sunday service, at St Patrick’s cathedral, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

There is not a village or town in any county in Ireland that did not suffer losses in the first World War, a remembrance service at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin was told yesterday. What better way to honour them than to “stand side by side next year as we commemorate the Battle of the Somme and the events which happened here in Ireland 100 years ago?” asked Rev Michael Roemmele.

Currently rector at Camus–Juxta–Bann in the Church of Ireland diocese of Derry and former chaplain to Britain’s armed forces, he said in a sermon “a sad element of our island’s history is that different mythologies of the first World War have contributed to the deep divisions that have festered within Ireland ever since”.

Names and stories

He noted how “there is not a village, or town in any county in Ireland that did not suffer losses in that war. From Co Donegal alone, there were almost 600 who died. On my desk is a book which gives all their names and many of their stories.”

He suggested that “if we are to truly honour our Lord and his supreme sacrifice, our fellow countrymen and all whose lives were sacrificed in the Great War, or indeed in any war, what better thing could we do than stand side by side next year as we commemorate the Battle of the Somme and the events which happened here in Ireland 100 years ago?”

Among those who were in attendance at the event were President Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina; Sinn Féin Dublin lord mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh; Tanaiste Joan Burton and Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys representing the Government; representatives of the judiciary, the Garda, the Defence Forces, the GAA and the diplomatic corps; British ambassador Dominick Chilcott; and French ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault.

An exhortation was read by Lieut Col Ken Martin, chairman of the Royal British Legion Republic of Ireland while its president, Maj Gen David O’Morchoe, accompanied Mr Higgins in laying wreaths at the war memorial in the cathedral’s north transept.

Meanwhile, a major conference to be held in Maynooth University will look at the Protestants and 1916. Silenced Stories – the Protestant Experience of 1916 is being organised by the Centre for Studies in Irish Protestantism at the university.