1916 Rising and first World War


, - Kevin Myers is to be thanked for bringing to our attention the fact that 800 men from Co Louth died in the 1914-1918 war (An Irishman's Diary, December 20th). Louth is only one of 32 counties, and not the most populous. Total Irish fatalities were high.

These facts undermine the theme of so many of Mr Myers's columns, i.e. that the 1916 Rising was the root cause of the largest disaster or series of disasters of 20th-century Ireland.

The Rising and its aftermath frustrated British plans to extend conscription to all of Ireland in the Great War, ensured that the British didn't dare extend it to the Six Counties between 1938 and 1960, kept most of Ireland free of the Luftwaffe from 1939 to 1945 and saved far more lives than those lost in the various Anglo-Irish or inter-Irish conflicts from 1916 to the present.

I, like most Irish people, had many relations in the British armed forces and/or merchant marine in conflicts from the Boer War to 1945. I believe they served honourably, but that, without exception, they would despise the cultural cringe of the begrudgers who would elevate their doings above those of men and women who, daring to challenge the power of the British Empire at its zenith, effected the first retreat of that power since Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown - and did it, moreover, without the help of another power. - Yours, etc,