Woman who brought Haunting Soldier to Dublin to receive MBE

Sabina Purcell brought sculpture from UK to mark first World War armistice centenary

The Haunting Soldier sculpture, which stood in St Stephen’s Green in Dublin in November 2018 to mark the centenary of the armistice. File photograph: Ronan McGreevy

The Haunting Soldier sculpture, which stood in St Stephen’s Green in Dublin in November 2018 to mark the centenary of the armistice. File photograph: Ronan McGreevy

 

The woman who brought the Haunting Soldier memorial to Dublin to mark the centenary of the end of the first World War is to receive an MBE from Queen Elizabeth II.

Created in 2017 in Dorset, England, from scrap metal,the monumental installation, more than six metres in height, depicts a weary and haunted-looking first World War soldier with a pack, leaning on his rifle.

It attracted thousands of visitors to St Stephen’s Green during commemorations for the centenary of the armistice in November 2018.

It was daubed with red paint by vandals while in St Stephen’s Green, which was removed by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

The artwork came to the attention of Dublin-based solicitor Sabina Purcell, who brought it to Ireland with the support of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, as it was called at the time, and the OPW. Nolan Transport brought the sculpture to and from England, while Sisk and AIG also sponsored the installation.

Voluntary project

Ms Purcell also set up the website www.worldwar1veterans.com as a voluntary project in 2011.

The site lists many of those from Ireland who returned from the war, and Ms Purcell now has close to 40,000 names listed.

She said she wanted to mark the centenary of the armistice in a way that would be memorable in Ireland.

Ms Purcell said she was “completely flabbergasted” to receive the letter of nomination for the MBE.

“It took a few reads for it to sink in that I had been nominated for my work in World War One commemorations and British/Irish relations. I am just delighted and honoured to receive such an unexpected award,” she added.

“It is lovely to be acknowledged. I know a lot of the stories of those who served from World War I relatives so I am emotional as well, thinking of these stories of those from the island of Ireland and the respect shown to the Haunting Soldier sculpture.”

Ms Purcell will receive her honour when the Covid-19 pandemic has passed.