Monday 19 February 2018

Mary Kenny: Redmond's message about pulling together is relevant for us in 2014

British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and Taoiseach Enda Kenny (2R) visit the grave of Irish MP Willie Redmond who died in the First World War
British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and Taoiseach Enda Kenny (2R) visit the grave of Irish MP Willie Redmond who died in the First World War
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

It was moving to see Enda Kenny and David Cameron meet for a moment of remembrance last month over the grave of Willie Redmond at Ypres. Captain William Redmond was the younger brother of the Home Rule leader John Redmond. He died in 1917 while serving on the Western Front of the 1914-18 war.

When Redmond fell, his body was carried to burial by Ulster Loyalist comrades with whom he had fought side by side at the Somme. William Redmond was a true Irish patriot and a constructive anti-partitionist. He believed that Irishmen should "pull together" and make common cause with one another, whatever their religion or politics.

This year will launch many commemorations about the start of that terrible war that began in August 1914. The ghastly events will be grimly remembered; the horrors of the trenches where men lived like rats for months on end; the summary execution of soldiers for cowardice when they were suffering from shell-shock; the appalling events of Verdun -- almost a million French and German combatants killed between February and December 1916; and the slaughter of the Somme, where there were 60,000 casualties on the first day of that battle.

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