Friday, 16 November 2018

Ireland’s Memorial Records


Ireland’s Memorial Records

Archives & Special Collections has arranged a display to mark the centenary of the ending of the First World War. The printed volume in the display case in the foyer of the Hardiman Building comes from our set of the eight volumes of the Irish Memorial Records, originally published in 1923 by the Committee of the Irish National War Memorial. Prolonged debate had taken place in many countries both during and after the War concerning an appropriate means by which the dead should be commemorated. Initially many families had demanded the return of their loved one’s remains but the scale of the casualties had quickly precluded this from happening. In Ireland matters were further complicated by the huge shifts in public opinion and political life wrought by the events of the revolutionary period. The Committee of the Irish National War Memorial was established in 1919 with Field-Marshal Viscount French of Ypres as its first President. The Committee’s principal legacies are the Irish War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge, Dublin and the publication of these volumes, funded by public subscription.  The latter contain over 49,000 names of men who died during the First World War.
The volumes were produced by the well-known contemporary Dublin publishers, Maunsel & Co. and include fine handmade paper. The page borders were created by Harry Clarke, then enjoying a significant reputation as an artist both in stained glass and other media. One hundred copies of each book were printed and they were intended to be available in most reference libraries. A list has been compiled in recent years of the whereabouts of 35 surviving sets of the Memorial Records. The set held by this library is apparently the only set in the West of Ireland. Our volumes are available for consultation by researchers in the Archives & Special Collections Room in the Hardiman Building.
From the outset problems were experienced by those assembling the names as to the definition of “Irish” and criteria for inclusion in the volumes. There was, as we see in our display, also some confusion concerning duplicate entries. The volume on display exhibits the entry for Robert Gregory, of Coole Park, Gort, county Galway, who died in January 1918. The two entries appear to both refer to the same Robert Gregory. Over the years researchers have indicated that the Memorial Records are not a definitive list and that there are other Irish men who died in the War who are not listed in the volumes for various reasons, principally to do with the location at which they joined the forces or were killed.

The Irish War Memorial Gardens were designed by the renowned architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, and eventually built between 1933-1939. They are now in the care of the Office of Public Works. For more information see http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/dublin/warmemorialgardens/  & http://opwdublincommemorative.ie/


 A hand-list of sources  in the library for further research on the First World War is available from the Archives & Special Collections Reading Room. 

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