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Online records of war dead go live

DUBLIN relatives of soldiers killed during World War One have described the move to place their records online as a "major step forward".

Political leaders both north and south officially launched a digital archive which contains the details of 49,000 soldiers who died as a result of injuries sustained during battle.

The project, which took over two years to complete, is aimed at "giving something back" to those who lost family members during the war.

Sisters Claire Connaughton and Sheila Mooney told how they have spent years trying to gather records relating to their great-grand-uncle, Private Thomas Connolly, who was killed in France in May 1917.

"Because a lot of the documents were destroyed, this may open up new roads for people to find out more information," Ms. Mooney told the Herald.

"That's what we're hoping. So it is a major step forward. Anything that comes our way, we immediately think it's fantastic and can do more research."


Ms Connaughton said Pte Connolly's death is still somewhat of a "family mystery" but that the archive goes towards "acknowledging" their relative.

"This is like putting the pieces of a jigsaw together. I have a son and daughter and an eight-year-old grandson so we'd like to have a little bit more information to pass on to them."

The archive is a collaboration between Google, the In Flanders Fields Museum in Belgium and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The archive was launched at the Google headquarters in Dublin yesterday by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Mr Gilmore said the archive is an important part a "decade" of commemorations relating to World War One.