First World War memorial unveiled in Glasnevin

Heather Humphreys says French gift to Ireland a ‘very significant gesture’

New memorial in Glasnevin Cemetery pays tribute to the soldiers who died in France. Video: Ronan McGreevy

 

The French government’s gift to Ireland of a first World War memorial has been described as “a very significant gesture’’ by Minister for Heritage Heather Humphreys.

She said it was a recognition of the close bond which existed between the two countries.

“Tens of thousands of Irishmen went to fight in the battlefields of northern France during the first World War, and many of them made the ultimate sacrifice,’’ Ms Humphreys said.

The France-Ireland memorial, featuring a replica of the wooden cross built by the men of the 16th Irish division for the churchyard at Ginchy, was unveiled at a ceremony at Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin on Sunday.

The cross was built following events in Ginchy and at Guillemont in September 1916, when 1,200 men from the division lost their lives. The original cross is housed at the War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge, Dublin.

The memorial, a monument created specially by the Beaux-Arts de Paris (Paris fine arts school) was presented to Ireland in recognition of “the solidarity and sacrifice’’ by so many Irish in the defence and freedom of France, particularly during the first World War.

French Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance at the Ministry of Defence Jean-Marc Todeschini said the memorial was a unique work of art, a creation by young artists and sculptors, to express not only a message of deep thanks and recognition but also to illustrate the role of youth in shaping a better future.

“The memorial is meant to be a lasting tribute from France and the French people to all Irish men from all the island of Ireland and beyond who constantly have expressed their solidarity and their commitment, even with the supreme sacrifice, to the values and the freedom of France,’’ he added.