Monday 16 December 2019

Sacrifice of Somme soldiers remembered 100 years on

British Ambassador to Ireland, Dominick Chilcott Photo: Gerry Mooney
British Ambassador to Ireland, Dominick Chilcott Photo: Gerry Mooney

Jane O'Faherty

The role of Irish soldiers in the Battle of the Somme has been remembered almost 100 years after it began on July 1, 1916.

It is estimated that 3,500 Irish soldiers lost their lives in the conflict in the north of France.

The battle, which lasted until December of that year, was one of the bloodiest clashes of the Great War.

Speaking at an event to commemorate the centenary, the British Ambassador to Ireland, Dominick Chilcott, said that 1916 had been a "tumultuous year" for the British and Irish - from Easter week in Dublin to the trenches of Europe.

Mr Chilcott also recalled the words of Col John Buckham, who described a brutal attack of the 36th Ulster Division that saw only a handful of the troops survive.

At the time, Col Buckham wrote: "Nothing finer was done in the war. The splendid troops, drawn from those volunteers who had banded themselves together for another cause, now shed their blood like water for the liberty of the world."


Dr Gavin Hughes, Visiting Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, also detailed the brave feats of Irish soldiers during the battle.

Dr Hughes told the story of Captain Colonel Charles McNamara, who kept fighting despite receiving horrific injuries on the battlefield. "Despite being severely wounded in the leg and having lost an eye, he refused to leave his men until he passed command over," he said.

Dr Hughes also described a private from Tipperary who had survived duty in Dublin during Easter week, only to be killed on the Somme just months later.

Irish Independent

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