Sunday, March 27, 2016

A few brave men & women, and a dream: The Centenary of The 1916 Rising


On this Easter Sunday, I am here in Dublin attending one of the 2016 official State Commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising. Although the Rising actually began on Monday 24 April, 1916, the Irish government has chosen today to officially mark the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. 

Today, I stand in honour of the life of my paternal granduncle Michael 'Mick' Francis Magee. In 1916, at the age of 18 years, Michael fought with ‘A’ Company, Dublin Brigade, serving as a Section Commander in the Four Courts Garrison during the Rising. Following the surrender, subsequent deportation to Stafford Gaol in England, and eventual release of prisoners, Michael returned to Ireland in July of 1916. He continued to serve with ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade.

During the War of Independence, Michael Magee was the only member of the ambush party wounded during the Abortive Ambush at Drumcondra on 21 January 1921. He was taken prisoner along with five others and transported to Dublin Castle, where Michael was denied attention to his serious wounds. Instead the British forces chose to question him. Michael succumbed to his wounds and died the following day. Michael was only 24 years old.

As I sit among this crowd of people, connected by the fact of our being members of 1916 families, I also commemorate the life of Michael's sister, my grandmother Anne ‘Annie’ Magee Geraghty, who joined the Cumann na mBan in order to support the work of her elder brother. Anne served in ‘A’ Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade of the Cumann na mBan from 1917, including the War of Independence, until the truce of July 1921.

I look forward to reporting back to you the highlights of this event, as well as others I am attending. For now, I wish each one of you and your families a very happy and blessed Easter.

Anne Magee, my paternal grandmother,
and her brother Michael Magee, my granduncle, c.1916.
©irisheyesjgg. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: To bring a little sunshine

When I was a child we lived next door to an elderly widow named Annie. On Sunday afternoons, in the spring and summer, accompanied by one of her adult children, Annie would travel out to the local Catholic cemetery in order to visit those graves in which her family members were interred. On these occasions Annie always carried with her an armful of beautiful yellow roses she had cut from the rose bushes that encircled her little red brick house. 

Being an inquisitive child, I had read about the language of flowers, and learned the yellow rose was considered to be a symbol of friendship, but also discovered that once upon a time the yellow rose was a signifier of jealousy. Those contrasting interpretations conjured up all sorts of questions in my mind about the meaning of Annie's yellow roses, so one day I screwed up the courage to ask her why she always brought yellow roses to the cemetery.

Annie told me she was not especially interested in someone else's interpretation of the meaning of her offering, so I worried I had offended her with my questions. Gently wrapping her arm around my shoulders, Annie assured me she was not vexed by such questions, and then explained that for her the yellow roses signified warmth and sunshine. Annie said she put yellow roses on the graves of those she loved because they could no longer see the sun or feel the warmth of sunshine on their faces. This seemed to me to be a deeply loving gesture.

Annie's act of bringing warmth and sunshine to a place of sadness made quite an impression on me when I was a child, and I never forgot it. These days, inspired by the memory of Annie, when I visit the graves of family members and friends, I always bring a few yellow roses or flowers to deliver a little sunshine. This past Sunday I visited some of my family's graves in Dublin, with yellow roses in tow.

The weather has wreaked havoc on the inscription on the stone over the grave of
my paternal grandmother Anne Magee Geraghty,
her brother Michael Magee,
and my great-grandparents, Patrick Magee and Mary Dunne Magee,
Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, Ireland.
The family tomb of my paternal great-grandparents Patrick Geraghty & Margaret Toole Geraghty,
my grandfather John Geraghty,
grand-aunts Catherine & Margaret Geraghty, and grand-uncle George Geraghty
Deansgrange Cemetery, Blackrock, Ireland.
The grave of my paternal grand-aunt Mary 'Mollie' Magee Halpin,
her husband William 'Willie' Halpin,
and his parents, Robert and Kathleen Halpin.
Deansgrange Cemetery, Blackrock, Ireland.

©irisheyesjgg2016
All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh: Happy St. Patrick's Day!

May your blessings be many on this St. Patrick's Day, 
and each day your whole life long!





In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here are my photographs of a rather stern looking St. Patrick standing atop a monument at the Prospect Cemetery at Glasnevin in Dublin, Ireland.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you and yours!


©irisheyesjgg2016. All Rights Reserved.
My photos previously appeared on my cemetery blog 'Over Thy Dead Body'.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Remembering Dad on the Eve of this St. Patrick's Day

Today on the 16th anniversary of our father's death, I remember our dad Michael and the long ago St. Patrick's Days we enjoyed with him.

St. Patrick's Day of the year 2000 is a day I recollect with great sadness. On that day there was no cause for celebration. Our family spent the day in a funeral home accepting visitors who had come to pay their last respects to my dad who had died on 16 March, the day before that St. Patrick's Day.

Dad had mixed feelings about St. Patrick's Day. He liked the day because he was proud to be an Irishman, who usually enjoyed thinking about and talking about life at 'home'; however, I think he disliked the day for the some of the same reasons. Sometimes thinking about his past life at home in Ireland simply made him sad. Recollections of the tremendous fun he and my mother had once enjoyed with friends and family in Ireland could be just as easily replaced by thoughts of those upon whom he would never again set eyes.

The best St. Patrick's Days in my recollections are those which fell on a weekend. With a plan in hand for a day away, we would all pile into the car, enjoying a luncheon or early evening meal together along the way. There were the St. Patrick's Day celebrations when my parents welcomed Irish friends and family from home. I can still hear the joyous singing, the steady thrum of the guitar strings, the distinctive thump of the bone on the bodhrán drum, and Uncle Séamus wildly playing his accordion, while clapping and peals of laughter wrapped around the end of each tune.

Then there were those St. Patrick's Days on which our father would take our mother out to a lovely dinner, and then to a dance or some other kind of social event at the Irish Canadian Club. The house seemed to have a warm glow about it on those evenings as Dad waited for Mam. While she got ready he would play Irish music on the stereo — The Dubliners and The Chieftains, or the Irish tenor John McCormack — and he might happily croon along with the songs. Sometimes, I would sit with him and he'd talk about 'home'. Dad's stories about life in Ireland, and the places and faces he most missed, seemed to match the timbre of the music humming beneath his words. I recollect those times as very precious.

Although we could not buy real Irish 'small leaf' shamrock on this side of the pond, on the morning of 17 March 2000 before we went to the funeral home, my husband stopped by a local florist to pick up some Canadian shamrock for me. On that day I very much wanted it to stand among the roses and other beautiful flowers next to my dad's casket; it was oddly important to me that it should be there. For me, it represented the best of what my dad was as an Irishman, and as an immigrant to Canada.

Dad on the left: A handsome young man in a double-breasted suit on a day out in Glendalough, 1950.
Centre: Always up for an adventure, Dad riding a camel in North Africa, 1980s,
Right: Dad in shirt sleeves, a young immigrant Irishman photographed by a street photographer during his first summer in Canada, 1956.
©irisheyesjgg2016. (This post without the photos of my dad appeared in 2015).

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Those Places Thursday: The Wonderful Barn, Leixlip, County Kildare

The Wonderful Barn, Leixlip, County Kildare.
Sometimes when you're feeling blue it helps to revisit a place that evokes happy memories. ‘The Wonderful Barn’ is just that kind of place. In Leixlip, County Kildare, it is one of those spots to which my dad cycled with his friends when he had time away from work. When Dad weaved the tales of his cycling days, sometimes the wonderful barn would make an appearance in the stories.

The September day on which I visited had been an extremely frustrating one for me. Earlier in the day I'd had a meeting — associated with my history work — and it was not at all successful. For a few minutes afterward I sat in my car sobbing tears of frustration, then I decided to pack it in and go off in search of the whimsical, wonderful barn.

Much to my dismay when I arrived at the site, the gate was closed, so I could not drive in. As I was contemplating leaving the car at the side of the road and climbing the fence, a lovely gentleman named Seamus, who had been attending his garden allotment on the grounds of the wonderful barn, drove up to the gate. I called to him and told him I dearly wished to visit the wonderful barn. He said he had to lock up after driving out, but instead would let me in while he went to get some petrol. He said he would return in about 30 minutes, so I’d have time for a good visit. I thanked him profusely, scurried back to my car and pulled into the grounds. 

The tower looks a little topsy-turvy, as though it might topple.
Hmm, now just what is inside that opening? Access to the tower is strictly prohibited,
although no doubt a few daring souls have made the trek up those stairs.
My visit was blissful. The clouds seemed like a fluffy confection crossing a sky that was such a beautiful shade of blue.

Although the barn and attached buildings seem quirky and charming to me, no doubt their history is a serious one. The wonderful barn was conceived by Katherine Connolly and built on the edge of the Castletown Estate — site of the famed Connolly's obelisk folly — in 1743 after Bliain an Áir, the famine of 1740-41. It may have been built as a folly; however, architectural historians1 have determined it was more likely a granary which was probably built to provide work for the poor and indigent. The two smaller tower structures on the property may have been constructed for a similar reason, and likely used as pigeon houses or dovecotes.

As I stood there I felt as though I could feel my dad’s presence. When I looked to my right an elderly gentleman came cycling into the garden allotments and tipped his hat to me. I smiled broadly and thought about what it must have been like when my dad and his pals came clattering down the pathway on their bikes. All the negative feelings from the day fell away. I took lots of photos and thought about my dad, as well as the people whose lives had been touched by this marvellous structure.

When Seamus returned we spoke for a few moments, and I thanked him again for his kindness. I drove back to Dublin feeling lighter than air. The photographs I took on that day bring back the feeling of lightness. I hope you enjoy them too.

One of two additional towers on the property which may have been used as a dovecote.
Dilapidated farm buildings with a tower peeking out from behind.
The second short tower is a little more accessible.
One last look as I drive away.
Endnote:

1. Per the Irish Georgian Society and Archiseek Ireland.

©irisheyesjgg2016.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

International Women's Day: Becoming a 'legal person'


Today, throughout the world there are many celebrations marking International Women's Day. Although festivities are often scheduled around this specific date, many are held throughout the month of March. The theme for this year's International Women's Day is: #PLEDGE FOR PARITY1 — a call to continue to fight for gender equality throughout the world.

In 2014, the World Economic Forum predicted in that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. One year later, they estimated that a slowdown in the pace of progress means the gender gap will not close entirely until 2133.

In honour of International Women's Day, once again I want to share with you something about which I learned at my very first International Women's Day celebration.

In 1986, when I was in my first year of university, I participated in the university's celebration marking International Women's Day. On that day I learned of an historical event which I would mark in October of that year, that event is 'Persons Day', the commemoration of the date on which women were legally declared as persons in Canada. Before participating in the International Women's Day events, it had never occurred to me that there had ever been a time in which women the world over were not legally recognized as persons. Although life would soon reveal to me my own naiveté, when I was a young woman I believed there would never be a door that was closed to me. The world was my oyster, so to speak.

Around the world there is a wide variance with respect to the dates on which women were legally declared as persons. In the United States, the Supreme Court legally declared women as 'persons' in 1875, but held that women constituted a “special category of nonvoting citizens". In Canada, women were not legally declared as 'persons' until 18 October 1929. In the Republic of Ireland, married women were not legally recognized as 'persons' until the passage of the Married Women's Status Act of 1957. Until the new Act was passed — abolishing the rules of old common law which had legally incapacitated married women — such women in Ireland possessed no independent legal status apart from their husbands.2, 3

Since I have no Canadian ancestors, I rarely write about Canadian matters on this blog; however, given that I currently live in Canada, I would like to share the history of the Canadian legal victory which led to the declaration of women as legal persons. It was due to the persistence of four Alberta women and their leader Emily Murphy.

Born in 1868 into a prominent legal family, Emily Murphy became a self-taught legal expert at an early age. When she moved to Alberta in 1903, Emily began a campaign to ensure the property rights of married women. Largely because of her work, the Alberta legislature passed the Dower Act in 1911, protecting a wife's right to one-third of her husband's property.

The fight to have women legally recognized as persons began in 1916, when Emily Murphy and a group of concerned women tried to attend the trial of Edmonton prostitutes arrested under 'questionable' circumstances. Emily and her compatriots were ejected from the court on the grounds that the testimony was "not fit for mixed company". She was outraged, and protested to the provincial Attorney General.

"If the evidence is not fit to be heard in mixed company," Emily Murphy argued, "then the government [must] set up a special court presided over by women, to try other women." To everyone's surprise the Minister agreed, and offered Murphy the post of presiding over such a court. Accepting the offer with some reticence, Murphy became the first woman police magistrate in the entire British Empire.

Although as a new magistrate Murphy was welcomed by some of her male colleagues of the court, others challenged her position purely on the grounds that she was a woman. A woman was "not a person" under the British North America Act of 1867; therefore, they loudly protested that Emily Murphy's decisions meant nothing. This argument echoed one which had been mounted in opposition to the appointment of a woman to the Canadian Senate. When petitions from various women's organizations failed to open the Senate to women, Emily turned to the law. There she found a section in the Supreme Court Act which allowed any five interested citizens the right to petition the government for a ruling on a constitutional point.

Emily banded together her five citizens — herself and four Alberta reformers: Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Henrietta Edwards and Irene Parlby4 — and for twelve years she led them in the fight to have women declared legal persons in Canada.

THE PERSONS CASE, as it is called, finally reached the Supreme Court of Canada in March 1928. The court ruled against women. Undaunted Emily Murphy and her party brought the case before the Privy Council in Britain. In the Privy Council's celebrated ruling of 18 October 1929, it declared that women were indeed 'legal persons' under the British North America Act.

To have legal recognition of personhood was quite an important development in the rights of women. Before such a time a woman was viewed as chattel (i.e. property) and could be disposed of in what ever way the male members of her family saw fit. In other words, a woman could be given in marriage without her consent, could be divorced on the word of her husband alone, and in the most extreme case, if a woman was murdered by her husband he might suffer minimal or no penalty.

Thanks to the efforts of Emily Murphy, Henrietta Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby, Canadian women have been legal persons since 1929. Their story serves as a good reminder that in some countries in this world women still do not possess the legal status of 'person'. There is still much work to be done.


*****************************************************************************
Footnotes and Further Reading:

1. Purple is the colour of International Women's Day. In 1908, the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) of Great Britain used the colours of purple, white and green on their banners, badges and signs as the colours of the Suffragettes. Also, since that time the purple iris has been the flower most readily associated with women's activism. On social media look for the hashtags: #PLEDGE FOR PARITY, #womensday, #IWD2015, #internationalwomensday

2. S.I. #5/1957 ‘Married Women's Status Act’, 1957. The Irish Statute Book, Office of the Attorney General, Ireland.

Section 2(1) of the Married Women’s Status Act, 1957, provides that a married woman shall:
(a) be capable of acquiring, holding and disposing of any property; and
(b) be capable of contracting; and
(c) be capable of rendering herself, and being rendered, liable in respect of any tort, contract, debt   or obligation; and
(d) be subject to the law relating to bankruptcy and to the enforcement of judgements and orders, as if she were unmarried.

3. The Married Women’s Property Act [Ireland 1865] allowed women limited rights with respect to the retention of their own property after marriage, including up to £200 of their own money; however, following the formation of The Irish Free State in 1922, this Act no longer applied in the 26 counties of the Free State.

4. Nellie McClung, a good friend of Murphy's, was renowned as a human rights advocate and suffragist. She was also a former member of the Alberta Legislature. Louise McKinney was a leader in the temperance movement. Henrietta Edwards was a vigorous campaigner for women's rights and a legal expert in law pertaining to women and children. Irene Parlby was a Minister without Portfolio in the Alberta Legislature. Parlby had entered politics with the goal of improving the lives of women in rural Alberta. Her participation in the campaign signified the support of the Government of Alberta. For more information visit the archived page on the Alberta Heritage site: The Famous Five.

Copyright©irisheyesjgg2016. (parts of this article appeared on this blog in 2015).

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sepia Saturday #320: A fantasy tea party with my grannies & great-grannies


Today’s Sepia Saturday inspiration image shows people gathering water at a public fountain in a town square. Since you need cold water to make the best tea, and given that it is Women’s History Month, I am stretching the theme a bit, taking the water one might collect at a fountain or a well, and bringing it to a fantasy tea party with my grandmothers and great-grandmothers.

In the summer of 2011, I first sat down for an imaginary tea party with female ancestors. Once again I'm going to take tea in the company of women, whom I did not have the good fortune to know in life, to pose questions I would love to have asked them. I am inviting ladies from both sides of my family tree, and from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

At today’s fantasy gathering we will dress in our best style, nibble on delicate finger sandwiches, buttermilk scones with clotted cream, and dainty cakes. We'll sip steaming cups of Earl Grey and Lapsang tea, while chatting across the centuries.

As part of the fantasy, the tea party will again take place in the Lord Mayor's Lounge of the Shelbourne Hotel, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. Founded in 1824, the place is replete with history. In 1922, Michael Collins had a hand in drafting the first Irish Constitution in room 112 of the hotel. Besides, they serve a lovely afternoon tea.

We would have had the tea at the carmanstage (a kind of inn) of my maternal 4th great-grandmother's family in Turvey, North County Dublin, if it still existed. Then again I'm not sure we would fancy traipsing out to the countryside, and Mary Brien Cavanaugh would probably enjoy a trip into the metropolis. We'll keep the numbers small, so as not to elicit too much attention. Without further adieu, I give you afternoon tea with my grannies and great-grannies.

The Guest List:

Paternal grandmother: Anne 'Annie' Magee Geraghty

Paternal great-grandmother: Mary Dunne Magee

Paternal great-grandmother: Margaret Toole Geraghty

Maternal grandmother: Mary Fitzpatrick Ball

Maternal great-grandmother: Mary Hynes Fitzpatrick

Maternal 2nd great-grandmother: Mary Kettle Fitzpatrick

Maternal 4th great-grandmother: Mary Brien Cavanagh

Welcome Ladies! Thank you for coming. I have so many questions to ask.

Paternal grandmother Anne Magee Geraghty (1900-1953):

Grandmother Annie, you joined the Cumann na mBan, the women's branch of the Irish Volunteers, in order to support your brother Michael's work with the Dublin Brigade. Did you ever feel nervous or worry you would be arrested for concealing guns and ammunition, and transporting them around Dublin during the War of Independence? You married somewhat late in life, for an Irish girl, and married a man 11 years your senior. How did you two meet? Did you find it difficult to settle into a life of marriage and children, after your adventures in the Cumann na mBan?

Paternal great-grandmother Margaret Toole Geraghty (1860-1948):

Great-grandmother Margaret, would you tell me how your husband Patrick, a labourer from a family of Mayo tenant farmers, ended up being a wealthy car proprietor living in the best part of Dublin? Was he as single-minded and ruthless as some say? No disrespect intended; I was just wondering.

Also, your father John Toole and your father-in-law Thomas Geraghty were both tenants of Sir William Roger Palmer — a landlord who refused to sign leases with his tenants so he could evict them at any time. Given this fact, did you ever live under the threat of eviction? Is that why you and your husband left Mayo for Dublin? 

Uh oh, great-grandmother Margaret looks annoyed. More tea perhaps? Cake, anyone? 

Paternal great-grandmother Mary Dunne Magee (1874-1939): 

Long before I ever laid eyes on an image of you, I saw your signature on a document you signed to receive the medals awarded to your brother William Dunne after he was killed in Belgium in 1914. William served with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers for many years, so I have often wondered how did you feel when, at the age of 15, your eldest son Michael joined the Irish Volunteers to fight against the British forces? Did you believe in the promise of a new Ireland, as did your husband and your eldest son and daughter?

Shall I refresh the tea? Any one for a fancy cake or cucumber sandwich?

Maternal grandmother Mary Fitzpatrick Ball (1894-1936): 

When I was a child I loved the photographs my mother had of you, still do. Grandmother Mary, you died when my mother was only 5 years old. Mam’s memories of you were the recollections of a 5 year old child, moments wrapped up in scents and sounds. When you were a little girl, your father and mother took your family to live in Liverpool, England. What do you recall of that time? Was the journey difficult? I’m very grateful they brought you back to Ireland, since it is in Ireland that you met my grandfather. I have always wondered where and how did you and my grandfather meet? 

Maternal great-grandmother Mary Hynes Fitzpatrick (1873-?): 

When I look at images of you, I see the face of a woman who dealt with a lot of hardship in life. Although you look into the camera’s lens, my mother recollected that you would allow neither her nor any of your grandchildren to make eye contact with you. Did you want to save them from the sadness in your eyes?

Was it difficult when you moved with your husband, and children Mary and Joseph, to Liverpool? A few years later you returned to Ireland with your husband, daughter and two more sons, but little Joseph had died in Liverpool. Was it a wrench to leave him behind? Were you ever able to return and visit his grave?

Maternal great-great grandmother, Mary Kettle Fitzpatrick (1832-1871):

Did you ever feel overshadowed by your brother Andrew J. Kettle, Secretary of the Land League? Did he practice his speeches on you? When you were a young child you and Andrew shared a room, along with your nanny Mary. Did you remain close as you grew into adulthood? In 1839, when you were only 7 years old, what was the night of the 'Big Wind' like? Did it really tear the roof from your home, and do you recall a sky filled with a million stars?

You died so young, only 39 years old. Your youngest child Teresa was ten months old at the time, but your daughter Alice took care of her. Eventually Alice took care of my mother and her siblings too, after their mother died. Thank you for teaching Alice so well.

Oh dear, now we're all crying in our cups. Shall we move on to one of our more colourful relations?

Maternal 4th great-grandmother Mary Brien Cavenaugh (1775-?):

When I think about you I imagine you as a wild Irish woman. It seems you had much more freedom than many young women of your day, since you were working as a messenger and a buyer for your family’s extensive carmanstage at Turvey in North County Dublin. Is it true you illegally transported pikes in order to arm the men of north county Dublin for the 1798 Rebellion? Did you find it exhilarating? Did you worry about getting caught?

You are still known, by your female descendants far and wide, for your powers as a healer. Is it true some of the finest physicians in Dublin consulted with you on their most difficult cases? Your grandson Andrew J. Kettle said so in his memoirs.

*********************

Before we finish our tea and say farewell, I want to tell you how much I love and admire each one of you and ask, what is the one thing in your life for which you would like to be remembered?

Thank you, dear grannies, for taking the time to enjoy this fantasy tea with me.

Ah me, if only time travel was possible...

If it was possible what questions would you ask your deceased 
grandmothers and great-grandmothers?

This post is dedicated with love to my paternal 1st cousin Kathleen, who often muses about lunchtimes with the famous and infamous.

Be sure to stop by the Sepia Saturday Blog to see how others have interpreted today’s inspiration image.
©irisheyesjgg2016

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Records of the Military Service of Irish Soldiers, Volunteers & Freedom Fighters.

The cruciform water feature at The Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Dublin.
The garden was built to commemorate the lives of those killed in the fight for Irish freedom.
Now that we are well within the decade of centenaries and are approaching the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, the official State commemoration of which will be held on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016 1, it is a good time to consider those records which might allow us to uncover the history of the military service of our Irish ancestors and relatives. 

To that end, below I have listed twenty websites and resources, along with links to additional information, which may aid you in finding the service history of your family members. Included here are sites which hold materials germane to not only the 1916 Easter Rising, but also the Irish War of Independence, the Irish Civil War, the First World War and other conflicts. Peppered throughout are photos I have taken on my history research travels.

Also, before you set out on your search you may want to consider the timeline of rebellions, wars and other events for which you might find records of the military participation for your Irish family members.

The Irish Rebellions of 1798 and 1803

Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848

The First World War, 1914-1918

The Easter Rising, 1916

The Irish War of Independence, 1919-21

Founding of the Irish Free State and with it the National Army, 1922

The Irish Civil War, 1922-23

As always, I wish you the best of luck with your research.

Cheers to you,
Jennifer

RECORDS OF THE MILITARY SERVICE OF IRISH SOLDIERS, 
VOLUNTEERS & FREEDOM FIGHTERS

1. THE BUREAU OF MILITARY HISTORY ARCHIVES at Cathal Brugha:


The Irish Volunteer, North Circular Road, Dublin.
(See endnote 2.)
In my opinion the Bureau of Military History Archives is the most important site for accessing materials, both online and offline, for ancestors and family members who fought in conflicts on the island of Ireland, including the 1916 Easter Rising, the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.

On this site you will find Military Pension records for those who fought in the 1916 Easter Rising, and applied for and were granted a pension. If your family member — or his/her survivors — did not apply for a pension in respect of service, you will not find a record of their service. The records for those who served exclusively during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War have not yet been released online. 

As well as the Military Service Pensions Collection,  a whole host of materials can be accessed online including the Bureau of Military History Archives (1913 - 1921), which includes the Witness Statements collection amassed in 1947,  The Irish Free State Army Census Collection 1922, An tÓglách Magazine accounts of the 1916 Rising, copies of significant issues of An tÓglách Magazine and the Military Archives Image Gallery. All of this is accessible online for free.


2. THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF IRELAND:


The NAI holds a significant cache of military records, including a major collection of Rebellion Papers for the 1798 and 1803 Rebellions. These must be accessed in person; however, via the NAI genealogy site you can search for and view the wills of Irish soldiers who died while serving in the British Forces. Most of these wills date from the First World War, but there are a small number which date to the late 19th Century, as well as some from the South African War, 1899-1902.



In Connolly train station, Dublin, a memorial to staff of The Great Northern Railway
who were killed during the First World War.
3. IRISH WAR MEMORIALS:


An excellent site, the main purpose of which is to make available the names of those recorded on war memorials in Ireland, as well as images of the memorials and the inscriptions on them. The site is free to access and is fully searchable by surname, county, regiment or service and specific war or conflict.

4. MILITARY HERITAGE of Ireland Trust:


The mandate of this web portal is to promote the widest possible understanding and appreciation of Ireland’s distinctive military heritage.

The Military Heritage of Ireland Trust archives directory page is an indispensable listing of the numerous archives, libraries, museums and heritage centres which hold materials pertaining to the Irish soldier.


Two of the four Book Rooms which hold the volumes of Ireland's War Memorial,
 The War Memorial Gardens, Dublin (see endnote 3).
5. IRELAND’S WAR MEMORIAL REMEMBRANCE BOOKS:

The Committee of the Irish National War Memorial recorded some 49,400 names of those Irish killed in WW1. The names and details of the lost were listed alphabetically in leather bound volumes, illustrated by Irish artist Harry Clarke, for publication in 1923. Those volumes are now stored in the Book Rooms of the War Memorial Gardens in Dublin Ireland. The content can be accessed on a number of pay-per-view sites including FindMyPast Ireland and Ancestry. The memorial can also be searched for free on the Flanders Fields museum website at http://imr.inflandersfields.be/search.html.

See also:



6. IRISH MEDALS dot org


This is an excellent website which offers a significant cache of information relating to the people who fought in the 1916 Easter Rising, the War of Independence, the Civil War, and World War One. As well, it offers what is described as “other snippets of information relating to these and other conflicts”.


Memorial to the Battle of Mount Street,
Dublin, Easter 1916.
(see endnote 4)
7. THE GUINNESS ROLL OF HONOUR:

At the outset of World War One, Guinness Brewery at St James's Gate in Dublin was the largest brewery in the world, employing close to 4,000 people. Of those 4,000, more than 800 men enlisted to fight with the British forces. While these men were away Guinness not only guaranteed their jobs upon their return, but continued to pay them half of their wages.

Guinness records indicate 103 of those 800 men died during the war. Their names, alongside all those who served from the brewery, are commemorated in a roll of honour which was produced in 1920.

Although the Guinness roll of honour cannot currently be accessed on the Guinness website, images of it can be viewed on the Irish War Memorials site at http://www.irishwarmemorials.ie/Memorials-Detail?memoId=83

8. THE IRISH GREAT WAR SOCIETY:


An excellent site with lots of very interesting material compiled by the Irish Great War Society, which describes itself as “a living history group dedicated to education and remembrance”. Their motto is a stellar one: ‘Cuimhnigh - Meas - tOnórach’, translated from Gaelic to English means: ‘Remember - Respect - Honour’.






9. CWGC: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission:


The Commonwealth war graves database lists the names and places of commemoration for the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars. It also records details of 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died 'as a result of enemy action' in the Second World War.

The site is fully searchable by surname, date, war, rank, regiment, awards or any combination of those criteria. Search results can be sorted by column heading, then printed and clicked on for access to more information.

For a history of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission see:


10. WAR GRAVES PHOTOGRAPHIC PROJECT:


An excellent website, fully searchable by surname, and also rank, regimental number, and regiment. This site provides photographs of the graves of those who fell on fields of battle in Europe and elsewhere. For a small donation they will provide copies (digital and/or hard copy) upon request.  The War Graves Photographic Project works together with the CWGC.


The standing stones, memorialising the dead and missing of the 36th Ulster and 10th & 16th  Irish Divisions,
Island of Ireland Peace Park, Belgium.
11. NATIONAL ARCHIVES UK (NAUK): First World War site:


On this excellent site you can view a vast collection of materials pertaining to those who served in the British forces during the First World War. Among the materials included are Unit War diaries which detail the day to day activities of the individual battalions in the field of battle.

12. MEDAL CARDS NAUK:


Fully searchable by name, regimental number, corps, rank and unit, the medals index offers the option to purchase a copy of the medal card, and some cards are available for viewing online. The medal rolls are also available on Ancestry UK.

13. THE IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM:



A number of materials pertaining to the Irish can be accessed through the Imperial War Museum. Various articles also offer the British perspective on the participation of Irish men and women in the First World War.


Close-up view of the plaque in St. Mary's Church, Haddington Road, Dublin.
It is the only World War One commemoration to be found inside a Catholic church in the Republic.
14. PRONI's WAR MEMORIAL RECORDS:

The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland is an excellent resource for materials relating to World War One. The war memorial records they offer are fully searchable and available for download as free PDFs.


15. THE DIAMOND WAR MEMORIAL PROJECT:


The stated aim of this project is “to investigate the stories of the lives and deaths of the many people, from the Derry/Londonderry area, who died as result of World War 1 (1914-1918) and also to pass on all this information to as many people as possible throughout the world.” Included in the project are the names of at least 400 persons whose details are not recorded elsewhere.

16. WAR GRAVES ULSTER:


This very interesting website is dedicated to persons of all nationalities who were killed in World War One or World War Two and are buried in Ulster.

This website is organised by County, but there are separate pages for cemeteries with large numbers of war graves, such as Belfast City Cemetery, Belfast (Milltown) Roman Catholic Cemetery, Dundonald Cemetery, Carnmoney Cemetery and Londonderry (Derry) Cemetery. There are also pages for Foreign Nationals (Polish, Norwegian, French, Dutch and Italian), as well as unidentified service personnel and group memorials.

WGU also has a  Facebook page:


The Pozières Memorial to the Missing, on the Somme, France.
More than 14,000 souls are commemorated here, including many Irish.
The walls are lined with the names of those with no known grave.
17. IMMIGRANT IRISH IN THE GREAT WAR:

Did your Irish ancestor or relative immigrate to Canada and then join the Canadian Forces to fight in WW1? If so, then be sure to visit the Military Heritage Section of Library and Archives Canada. The site and database are free to access.


Soldiers of the First World War: 1914-1918 database Canada:


18. PRISON REGISTERS:

Prison Registers, which can be accessed through sites such as FindMyPast Ireland, can be very helpful because they offer not only names, but in many cases reasons for internment. In these records you may find an ancestor or family member who was arrested and interned in Kilmainham Gaol for illegal activities during the Land Wars, the 1916 Easter Rising, the Irish War of Independence or the Irish Civil War.

19. NEWSPAPERS:

Newspapers have always been a great resource for finding all manner of information related to family history research. If you are looking for obituaries for soldiers killed while serving with the British forces during the First World War, be sure to consult the pay-to-view archives of the Irish Times newspaper at http://www.irishtimes.com/archive. The Irish Times was the instrument of the State during this period, so lists of soldiers killed were published, along with some individual articles — some including photographs — about officers who were lost during the war.

20. CENTURY IRELAND:

Although this is not a site dedicated to records, it is an excellent site for learning more about the history of upheaval in the seminal decade of 1913-1923 in Ireland, with the material delivered in a number of interesting and accessible ways.


Endnotes:

1. The 1916 Easter Rising actually began on Monday 24 April, 1916; however, the Irish government has chosen to hold its major commemoration events on Easter weekend. There are also many other events for commemoration which are being held by public and private organisations in both March and April.

2. The plaque reads: "For the glory of God in enduring memory for the officers and for the volunteers who are no longer with us that fought for Ireland’s freedom and who were once members of ‘C’ company 1st battalion Dublin Brigade of the republican army a company which was founded in the year 1913."

3. There are four Book Rooms in War Memorial Park. Within them are housed the Books of Remembrance. There is one book room for each of the four provinces of Ireland. Also, secreted away in one of the book rooms is the Ginchy Cross, a 4 meter high (13ft) wooden celtic cross which was erected on the Somme in 1917. The cross stood as a memorial to the 4,354 men of the 16th Irish Division who were killed on the Somme in 1916 during two battles, one at Ginchy and one at Guillemont. The cross was brought back to Ireland in 1926 and locked away here. In its place in France stands a stone cross.

4. The inscription reads: "In Commemoration of the Battle of Mount Street Bridge and in honour of the Irish Volunteers who gallantly gave their lives in this area in defence of The Irish Republic, Easter Week, 1916. Remember their sacrifice and be true to their ideals. God Rest the Brave."

The altar at the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.
Over 72,000 soldiers who have no known grave are commemorated here.

What resources have you found helpful in the search for the military history of your Irish ancestors and relatives?


©irisheyesjgg2016. 
All photographs are ©irisheyesjgg and ©JGeraghty-Gorman and may not be reproduced elsewhere.
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