Irish Times journalist named Chevalier des Arts et Lettres
Ronan McGreevy receives honour from French ambassador in Dublin
Irish Times journalist Ronan McGreevy with Stéphane Crouzat, French Ambassador to Ireland at the medal presentation in the French Ambassador’s residence. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Irish Times journalist Ronan McGreevy was named Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by French Ambassador Stéphane Crouzat at a ceremony in Dublin on Friday.
The honour reflects McGreevy’s work on the participation of Irish soldiers in the first World War, thousands of whom were killed on the fields of France and Belgium.
Accepting the award at the official French residence, he said he was doing so on behalf of all those who had sought to remember Irish involvement in the conflict, often in the face of hostility at home.
Among them, he noted, were the Somme Association, the Regimental Associations and Tom Burnell, who has devoted six years to chronicling the war dead, compiling a list of almost 30,000 names.
“It is important to remember that the majority of Irish who died in the first World War died in France,” McGreevy said.
“More Irishmen died in defence of the French republic than died in the creation of our own. It is right that France remembers.”
McGreevy is the author of Wherever the Firing Line Extends: Ireland and the Western Front and recently edited Centenary: Ireland remembers 1916, the official commemorative book on the Easter Rising and Battle of the Somme.
He was honoured, he said, to find himself among past recipients including the late John McGahern and even, as his daughter informed him, the singer Kylie Minogue.
Established in 1957, the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres rewards those who have made a significant contribution to artistic or literary creation and who have helped to spread arts and culture in France and further afield.