Wednesday, 3 November 2010

49,400 reason to give 60 or 120 seconds

It is an often erroneous fact that the Poppy in a symbol of Unionism in Northern Ireland. However, between 1914 and 1918 over 300,000 young men from this island fought in the various armies across Northern Europe. 49,400 of them never returned.

They are remembered at the Irish National War Memorial Gardens (Gairdíní Náisiúnta Cuimhneacháin Cogaidh na hÉireann) in Inchicore (Inse Chór), Dublin (Baile Átha Claith). Also at the Garden of Remembrance (An Gairdín Cuimhneacháin) in the city at the Northern end of O'Connell Street. But these are just two of the many memorials around Ireland.

They are there as a mark that the war dead from this Island against the Central powers. One name that struck out from all the names on memorials across Ireland was one of Eileen Mary O'Gorman of the Territorial Forces Nursing Service a woman who would appear by the name to be of Catholic descent who was killed in the First World War. Her name alongside others is on the memorial at St. Anne's Cathedral here in Belfast on the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service memorial.

Also there and across the island are the names of many from all walks of life. Church of Ireland, Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist whatever. Young men who laid down their lives for the freedom of those back home during the Great War and other conflicts.

So come the eleventh hour of the eleventh day give two minutes silent contemplation. On Remembrance Sunday do the same, or even just the minute (depending where you are).

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Tug fás ní bheidh d'aois, mar atá fágtha againn go bhfuil fás d'aois;
Ní bheidh feidhm ag aois bonn dóibh, ná na blianta Cáineann.
Ag dul síos na gréine agus ar maidin
Leanfaimid orainn cuimhneamh orthu.

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