World War 1 heros to be remembered tomorrow at special Kildare ceremony

100 years ago since war ended

Karel Kiely

Reporter:

Karel Kiely

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editor@leinsterleader.ie

World War 1 heros to be remembered tomorrow at special Kildare ceremony

Military Barracks, Naas

The Great War (1914-1918), as it was known at the time, is regarded as a catastrophic conflict which resulted in a terrible waste of human life on a colossal scale.

Every new generation is haunted by the horror of the trenches and No-Man's Land, and by the conditions that men and women endured and witnessed on the battlefields, and also in the hospitals and convalescent homes.

It is estimated that 35,000 Irishmen died in World War I. Current research has ascertained that two women and 748 men from Co. Kildare lost their lives in the conflict. This figure takes into account those born in Co. Kildare to English, Scottish and Welsh parents who resided in the county while their fathers were serving in the military.

From towns and villages, rural cottages and the big country houses, Kildare men marched away to the great battles of the Western Front and beyond. Some were regular soldiers with a family tradition of service in the British armed forces; a sizeable number were volunteers who were fighting for the freedom of small nations and Home Rule for Ireland; many were economic recruits and some joined for the chance of adventure.

Through the iconic archway of the former Military Barracks that still stands in the grounds of Áras Chill Dara, HQ of Kildare County Council, thousands of soldiers from the regimental depot of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers marched to their fate. Other military garrisons at the Curragh, Newbridge and Kildare supplied men to the Front. It is claimed that Athy and the surrounding district suffered the greatest loss of life per capita in Ireland while Clongowes Wood College, Clane, proportionately lost more alumni than England’s Eton College.

One hundred years later, we remember those on all sides, from all walks of life, who, for a variety of reasons, found themselves struggling to survive the slaughter and return home to their loved ones. The 1916 Easter Rising and subsequent events in Ireland changed public opinion and the narrative of Irish involvement in the war. Those who returned did not receive a hero’s welcome in a country that had become indifferent to their sacrifice. Their story faded from memory.

This year, as part of the national programme of commemorations from 2013-2023, we examined Women’s Suffrage, the 1918 Election, Irish involvement in World War I, the Great Flu pandemic and the sinking of the RMS Leinster. The Co. Kildare Decade of Commemorations Committee remains committed to its strategic plan which recognises the need to commemorate our heritage in an appropriate, inclusive and sensitive way and to create a legacy of research.

To mark the centenary of the end of the Great War, a memorial will be unveiled on 11 November 2018 in remembrance of those from Co. Kildare who died. The youngest fatality was 15 years of age while the oldest was 49; the last fatality occurred on 10 November, just a day before the war ended at 11a.m. on 11 November 1918.  Suaimhneas agus siocháin dóibh - May they rest in peace. A unique commemorative booklet containing the names of the Co. Kildare war dead will be available free on the day as a prelude to a more comprehensive work that will be published in 2019.

We invite everyone in Co. Kildare to mark the occasion of the end of the Great War at the unveiling of a Civic Memorial by the Mayor of Co. Kildare, Cllr. Seán Power at Áras Chill Dara, Devoy Park, Naas, on Sunday, 11 November 2018 at 11.00 a.m.

The event begins at 10am and is followed by a Civic Reception at 12 noon in the Osprey Hotel.

Co. Kildare Decade of Commemorations: Details and R.S.V.P. cilldara2016@gmail.com