Salesian students at their World War 1 memorial event
Families in Celbridge and Straffan, who had relations killed in World War 1 held a special commemoration day in Celbridge recently.
Hundreds of school students at Salesian College and local families attended the unveiling of a memorial to their dead relatives in the 1914- 1918 conflict.
Organised by Salesian history teacher, Kieran McManmon, a lot of work went into the event, which was attended by members of the Irish Defence Forces.
Mr McManmon said; “over the past few years, as part of school tours with students, I have visited several war graves in Europe. The age of those buried there, some as young as 16, has always stayed with me, they were known as the ‘boy soldiers’. They make you think of all the lost dreams and lives unfulfilled. All of you young men here today, have dreams for your own lives, to do well in exams, go to college, find work you enjoy, to meet someone special, to marry, have families. We wish this for all of you. The men we remember and honour here today had no opportunity to realise any of their hopes or ambitions.”
Among the attendance was Tony Leech and members of his family. His grandfather, James Leech, was a porter in the local Celbridge Union at the time.
Tony believes that at the time the authorities were less likely to give jobs to those able to go to the front and he told us of a advertisement in the Leinster Leader in 1915, seeking a temporary replacement for his grandfather. “I suspect there was a lot of coercion,” said Tony of the recruitment campaign. Tony and his five brothers travelled for the 100th anniversary of the dead in the 3rd battle of Ypres in July 2017. Mr McManmon said that around 200,000 Irish people signed up to fight and over 30,000 were killed, including 44 from the parish of Celbridge and Straffan. The history teacher quoted one soldier after the war as saying: “Irrespective of the uniform we were all victims.”
Maynooth resident, Willie Cusker, was in attendance with members of his family.
His great uncle, George McGann, is buried in Celbridge graveyard. Dara and Eoin Killeen, students at Salesian College recalled their great uncle, James Glennon, died during the conflict.
Teacher, Siobhan Sheehan, read from the Laurence Binyon poem, “For the Fallen.”
Teacher, Sarah Standing, and students from Salesians, prepared war related art works.