My grandfather would close his eyes and belt out the rebel songs to hushed and reverent neighbours. There was a common theme to them -- of local brave young men from Kerry who were gunned down as they fought to free their country from the grip of the British oppressor.
Each tune knitting romanticism, bravery and death seamlessly.
In all those songs, though, I never once heard the name of Private Patrick Foley from Glenbeigh, who lost his life serving for the Royal Munster Fusiliers 2nd Battalion on Thursday, March 21, 1918 -- on the day the Germans launched their last-gasp Spring Offensive as World War I neared its end.
Nor were two other men from my parish mentioned -- Acting Corporal Michael Healy, also of the Munster Fusiliers, who fell on Wednesday, September 22 1915, or Bartholomew Sullivan, with the Royal West Kent Regiment, who died in battle on Friday, June 28, 1918.
The first time I became aware of these names was at noon yesterday when a friend directed me to a website which has published the records of nearly 50,000 Irish soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War.
Immediately I was taken aback. How could I not have heard of these men before? Their surnames Foley, (O') Sullivan and Healy are common in our area and not associated with Anglo-Irish aristocracy. In short these were our people, but history, and those who write it, decided to erase them from it.
In an area without industry, the prospect of joining the British Army for relatively decent pay would have appealed to these men.
Indeed Tom Barry, who would become one of the fiercest IRA guerrilla leaders Ireland ever saw, fought for the British army serving in Mesopotamia. He was a distinguished soldier, but because he returned and took up arms against the British, he is revered in Irish Republicanism and his name is sung. I type my own family name into the search bar and discover that a Private Timothy Clifford from Killorglin, Co Kerry, died on August 25, 1916 at the Battle of the Somme. Again I have never heard anyone speak about this young man, who would have been related to my family, and who grew up in the same era as my grandparents.
Ireland's Memorial Records in the Flanders Field Museum reveal an insight into our country at the time of World War I that is overlooked and under-appreciated. Those young men who died so brutally in the squalor and filth of a most senseless war, deserve to be remembered.
People like Private Maurice Keane from Dungarvan, Co Waterford. The Machine Gunner of the Royal Irish regiment lost his life less than a month before the end of the war, with victory for the Allies all but secured.
I implore amateur historians to visit this website and search under your name and local area. I'm confident that, like me, you'll wonder how a century could have passed without tell of these brave young Irish men who died hellish deaths.
It might be too late to sing of them, but let's not erase them from our history any more.
For access to the latest online digital archive, log on to http://imr.inflandersfields.be/search.html - you can type in a name and see the place of birth, rank, regiment, service number, date of death and place of burial/ commemoration of each individual solider with that name, where the information is available.