Willie Redmond’s lonely grave
Sir, – In the wake of An Taoiseach’s visit to the grave of Maj Willie Redmond MP, late of the 6th Royal Irish Regiment, it has been suggested that his grave lies where it is at his own request. It has also been stated that this was in protest at the executions that followed the 1916 Rising. Both of these statements are myths with no basis in fact.
Maj Redmond was buried in the convent garden at Locre on the day after he was killed, June 8th, 1917. At his own request, soldiers from both the 16th Irish Division and the 36th Ulster Division provided his guard of honour. In October 1919 his widow Eleanor visited his grave and was very pleased with how it had been kept by the sisters. When the CWGC started to concentrate burials in the area they wrote to her asking for her permission to move him. Eleanor requested that his body be left where it lay in the care of the nuns at Locre. No political statement was being made.
I have spent many years bringing groups to visit the western front to learn from our shared history and this hoary old chestnut arises again and again. To anyone who wants an accurate account of the story behind this episode I would refer them to Terence Denman’s excellent biography, A Lonely Grave, The Life and Death of Willie Redmond. – Yours, etc,
FEARGHAL O BOYLE,