AS the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War approaches, a booklet commemorating those with Clare roots who lost their lives in the Great War has been created.
The booklet, ‘The Great War 1914-1918 – The Clare War Dead WWI’ will be officially launched at the Ennis Book Club Festival. And it is hoped that the booklet will raise awareness, and assist plans, for the establishment of a memorial in the Friars Walk area of Ennis honouring Clare’s war dead.
The publication, prepared by Ger Browne in association with the Clare Roots Society is now available but will be officially be launched during the Ennis Book Club Festival on the Saturday, March 9 at 2.30pm in St Columba’s Church.
John Bradley of Clare Roots Society explained, “This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and with it comes four years of commemorations. The official commemorations will begin in Sarajevo with a week long series of events culminating on June 28 the original start of the war. More than 4,000 Clare people served during the Great War while Ennis had over 1,100 soldiers who took part and Kilrush had 416 recruits of which 106 were employees of Glynn’s.”
Ger Browne who compiled the booklet explained that the newly released booklet will not only commemorate those who lost their lives in the war, but it is also hoped it will open the debate on how to properly draw up a definitive list of Clare’s war dead.
“Plans are in place to create a memorial in the Friars Walk area of Ennis to commemorate Clare men and women who died in the Great War. On this memorial it is planned a listing of the names of the Clare dead. A number of lists exist in various publications and other sources. The accuracy and completeness of these lists depends on the criteria used in drawing them up. They may include names of people born in other counties of Ireland or abroad who enlisted in Clare for the Great War. It is now timely to open the debate on how to properly draw up a definitive listing. This publication is intended to continue the process,” he said.
He added that if any readers of the booklet are aware of additional names or corrections the society would be happy to forward them to the committee of the memorial. Contact can be made with the secretary through www.clareroots.org.
Keir McNamara, of the Clare Peace Park Initiative has given his backing to the Clare Roots Society’s booklet, adding that it will support efforts to create the proposed Peace Park.
“It is estimated that 6000 Clare soldiers served in WWI. About 700 are thought to have lost their lives. Clare had not seen such loss since the famine,” he said.
He recalled, “A committee to remember these men and women were formed a few years ago by the late Peadar McNamara, Canon Bob Hanna and Fr Tom Hogan and have been holding a Remembrance service around November 11 each year. It has long been on the agenda of the committee to erect a memorial to Clare’s war dead, and help to preserve the memory of a forgotten generation. Such a park would be a great addition to the built and cultural heritage of the town. It would form a focus for learning for history students and afford current and future generations the opportunity to remember a very important and expense, in terms of lives lost, time in the history of this county. A site has been agreed with Ennis Town Council and fundraising efforts are underway for the project. As we approach the 100th anniversary of WWI, hopefully these efforts along with what has already been done will help secure the memory of this generation of Clare men and women.”
The booklet contains the names and a brief synopsis of the battles and where they died of over 586 war dead from 60 separate locations in County Clare. The launch at the Ennis Book Club Festival will follow an illustrated talk by Neil Richardson on “How to Research your Ancestors in the British Army”. Neil wrote the book ” A Coward if I Return, A Hero If I Fall: Stories of Irishmen in WW1″.
The Clare Peace Park Initiative have recently launched a new website http://www.clarepeaceparkinitiative.com.