IRISH ON THE FRONTLINE; How Our Soldiers Fired First Shots in the Great War

The Mirror (London, England), November 10, 2008 | Go to article overview

IRISH ON THE FRONTLINE; How Our Soldiers Fired First Shots in the Great War


Byline: BY SENAN HOGAN

IRISH soldiers fired some of the first shots in the First World War, a new book has revealed.

Irish regiments were recalled from far-flung outposts of the British Empire while reserve forces were also told to report to their commanding officers.

The 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, who were among 200,000 men who enlisted, saw early action at the Battle of Mons in France in August 1914.

A battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers was summoned from India and the Royal Munster Fusiliers returned from Rangoon in South-East Asia.

A ground-breaking book Our War - Ireland And The Great War has been written by a team of historians to mark the 90th anniversary of the ending of the conflict.

The academics, brought together by the Dublin-based Royal Irish Academy, argue the war brought huge gains as well as losses to Ireland and that it had a lasting impact on personal, social, economic and political aspects of Irish life.

A 10-part RTE Radio One series and a website are also being launched to coincide with the anniversary.

Trinity College academic David Fitzpatrick said: "If the world had remained at peace between 1914 and 1918, the Irish would have been poorer, less employable and more troubled by class and sectarian conflict." The Irish had a long history of enlisting in conflicts such as in the American War of Independence right up to local citizens' armies in the early 20th century.

As the war clouds gathered in Europe in 1914, thousands of restless Irishmen were preparing to enlist at recruiting offices in search of adventure.

Soon, barracks had men drilling with dummy rifles but they came faceto-face with real trench life in France within weeks. …

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