Irish killed in first World War honoured at Glasnevin Cemetery

British, US, Canadian and German ambassadors participate in Armistice Day ceremony

Wreaths have been laid at the Cross of Sacrifice in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, to remember the thousands of Irish men and women who died fighting in the first World War.

British ambassador Robin Barnett, US ambassador Kevin O'Malley, Canadian ambassador Kevin Vickers and German ambassador Matthias Hopfner were among those who took part in the Armistice Day commemorations on Friday.

Commemorative stones were unveiled in honour of four Irish men who received the Victoria Cross for their bravery in the first World War.

Cpt John Holland (1889-1975), born in Athy, Co Kildare, was one of 600 students of Clongowes Wood College to enlist during the war.


He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his endeavours at Guillemont, France in 1916.

Despite having been wounded earlier in the war he led his troops though a heavy artillery barrage to take 50 prisoners and was said to have broken “the spirit of the enemy and saved many casualties”.

Served as sniper

Sgt Martin O’Meara (1885-1935), from Terryglass, Co Tipperary, had worked as a labourer in south Australia before joining the 16th Battalion’s newly formed Scouting Section in northern France and served as a scout, observer and sniper during his time on the Western Front in Belgium and France.

During four days of heavy fighting at Pozieres, France in August 1916 he repeatedly went out and brought in wounded officers and men from “no man’s land” under intense artillery and machine-gun fire. He was wounded three times during the war.

Cpl Thomas Hughes (1885-1942), born in Corravoo, Co Monaghan, was wounded in an attack in Guillemont but returned at once to the firing line after having his wounds dressed. Later, seeing a hostile machine-gun, he dashed out in front of his company, shot the gunner and captured the gun, single-handed. Though again wounded, he brought back three or four prisoners.

Had to sell medal

Cpl Frederick Edwards (1894-1964), born in Queenstown, now Cobh, Co Cork, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his role at Thiepval in France in September 1916.

After all the officers in his battalion were killed, he dashed out on his own initiative into machine-gun fire, taking out machine guns with bombs.

After leaving the army he had to sell his medal to make ends meet.

Speaking at the event, Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said he was honoured to have the opportunity to take part in the Armistice Day commemorations.

“Hearing the stories of those whose plaques are being unveiled also brings real life to proceedings and gives us a sense, and an understanding, of the courageousness and selflessness of those we commemorate here today.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times