Sunday 28 December 2014

Beckett goes from Nobel-man to French Resistance hero

Published 10/01/2013 | 05:00

Beckett won a Croix de Guerre war medal from for bravery
Literary icon Samuel Beckett
No Fee For Repro Please Credit Paul SherwoodNew Exhibition at the The National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts & History,Collins Barracks, Dublin 7The Irish and France: Three Centuries of Military Relations.As part of Irelands 2013 EU Presidency Cultural Programme, the National Museum of Ireland in association the French Embassy in Ireland is delighted to present "1689 - 2012, The Irish France: Three Centuries of military relations", an exhibition produced by the Musée de lArmée (Army Museum, Paris). This will be the first exhibition launched as part of the Culture Connects Irelands EU Cultural Programme 2013.This exhibition shows Irish and French military cooperation since the 17th century. From the "Wild Geese" to the First World War to Samuel Becketts time in the French resistance, the exhibition retraces the history of the close relations between the Irish and France.Covering the period 1689 to 2012, including the Irish regiments which fought for France in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, it features material on the Wild Geese, who served their adopted country. Indeed, one of their descendants, Patrice MacMahon, became President of the Third French Republic in 1873. The exhibition also covers the role of Irish men and women in World War I and World War II in particular Samuel Becketts involvement in the French resistance. The exhibition concludes with a panel on the most recent cooperation between the French and Irish army in the EUFOR mission in Chad.FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT Maureen Gaule, Marketing Department, National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks 01 648 6429 or 087 903 1690Photos Paul Sherwood paul@sherwood.ie www.sherwood.ie 00 353 87 230 9096 Mobile Copyright © 2012 Pictured:-Denis Lambolez, Gendarme from the French Embassy (French Police Officers)Cpl Michael Kelly Military PoliceCpl Mark Hughes Military Police
Display at Collins Barracks with documentation showing that Samuel Beckett was part of the French resistance - see story Allison Bray

HE is best known for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature for his writing.

But playwright Samuel Beckett's time as a member of the French Resistance – along with an Irish nun and a Dublin-born relative of Napolean Bonaparte – feature in a new exhibition tracing Ireland's 300-year-old military relationship with France at the National Museum in Collins Barracks.

It's well known that the Dublin-born Beckett, who won the Nobel Prize in 1969, lived in Paris for many years with his partner Suzanne Dechevau-Dumesnil.

But the fact he won a Croix de Guerre war medal from for bravery and his "steely nerve" as an intelligence officer during the Nazi occupation of France during World War Two is lesser known.

Beckett joined the French network 'Gloria SMH in conjunction with the Special Operations Executive' and translated intelligence reports which would be transcribed on to microfilm and smuggled to London.

Despite having "numerous incriminating documents at his house" that could lead to his arrest and execution, Beckett managed to escape when the network was exposed and its members arrested.

He went into hiding at the home of a French writer in 1942 and joined the French Forces of the Interior – the official name of the Resistance – and was later decorated by the French military as "a very brave man who for two years acted as an intelligence officer".

The story of William Lucien Wyse-Bonaparte, a great grandnephew of Napolean Bonaparte, is also included in the archives that are on display as part of the free exhibition 'The Irish and France: Three Centuries of Military Relations' running until June 30.

He was born in Dublin in March, 1908, was cited as a member of the Resistance.

Irish Franciscan nun Katherine Anne MacCarthy was also hailed a heroine for joining the Resistance in 1940 after which she was captured and sentenced to death, but survived numerous intern-ments at concentration camps before being freed by the Red Cross at Ravens-bruck camp in 1944.

Their fascinating stories are among the exhibits presented by the French Embassy in Ireland in conjunction with the National Museum of Ireland and the Army Museum in Paris as part of Ireland's 2013 EU Presidency Cultural Programme.

Irish Independent

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