Sombre ceremony to mark Armistice Day in Dublin

Minister and ambassadors attend first World War commemoration in Glasnevin

Minister Heather Humphreys with a German helmet now part of an exhibition at Glasnevin Cemetary, in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister Heather Humphreys with a German helmet now part of an exhibition at Glasnevin Cemetary, in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Thick black storm clouds gathered and the heavens opened yesterday afternoon just ahead of the Last Post being sounded at the Armistice Day commemoration in Glasnevin Cemetery in honour of the thousands of Irish people who died fighting in the first World War.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys and John Green of the Glasnevin Trust led the wreath-laying proceedings at the Cross of Sacrifice. They were watched by about 500 people, many of whom had lost family members in the first and second World Wars.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were Dr Andrew Murrison MP and Dominick Chilcott, the British ambassador to Ireland. US ambassador Kevin O’Malley, German ambassador Matthias Höpfner, Austrian ambassador Dr Thomas Nader, Australian ambassador Dr Ruth Adler and New Zealand honorary consul-general Alan McCarthy, were also present.

Human suffering

“It is difficult to comprehend the enormity of the human suffering endured by thousands of young Irish men who fought and died in the trenches during the first World War,” Ms Humphreys said.

“Glasnevin Cemetery, where people of all shades of political opinion and religion are buried side by side is an appropriate setting for us to come together in memory of those brave men from across Ireland who gave their lives in the Great War.”

Mr Green said the commemoration was taking place at a time of significant centenaries in Irish history and he said that the Irish men and women who fought and died in the first World War “deserved to be remembered”.

Grandfather

One person who was not forgetting was Peter Mooney who was there with his family to remember their grandfather John Mooney, who was wounded in the war.

“He fought in Flanders and at the Somme, and we know he was wounded at least twice,” said Mr Mooney.

His second injury – in the Battle of Polygon Wood which took place during the third battle of Ypres in autumn 1917 – was enough to send him home.

“He climbed into no-man’s land to pull a wounded soldier out and was shot. His wounds ultimately contributed to his death in 1943 and he was also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, although that was never diagnosed,” Mr Mooney said.

“We came here today to remember our grandfather’s bravery, but I like many people here, I suspect, our presence does not condone war. I don’t want our kids to have to go and fight wars of any sort.”