Northern Ireland

Armagh: Tracing the lost names of two world wars

Armagh war memorial
Image caption The memorial was erected in the 1920s, shortly after the partition of Ireland

When the people of Armagh gather around the city's war memorial later, unlike the majority of towns and cities across the country, they will not be looking at a list of names of the fallen.

Instead, the memorial bears the simple inscription: "For remembrance. Armagh. To her children who fought and fell in the great wars. In sorrow, in thanksgiving and in hope."

This is despite a project, stretching back almost a decade, which was set up to try to ensure that all individual names were added to the memorial.

It was the city's nationalist controlled council which took the decision, when the memorial was first erected in the 1920s, not to include a roll of honour.

Image caption People will gather round Armagh War Memorial later to pay tribute to those who fought and died

When I interviewed her some years ago, the War Memorial Project's founder, Amanda Mareno, explained that this was because a large proportion of those killed in World War One had been from the nationalist community and, given the political situation that existed in post-1916 Ireland, that was not something the council wanted to highlight.

Ms Mareno and a team of volunteers undertook years of painstaking research.

A combination, however, of funding pressures and delicate negotiations around sensitivities which still exist, has seen the project delayed and unlikely to be completed in the near future.

Instead, the hope now is that a book will be published in the new year listing the names, and detailing whatever information is available, of all those from the area who were killed in the two world wars.

Image caption The memorial bears the simple inscription: "For remembrance. Armagh. To her children who fought and fell in the great wars. In sorrow, in thanksgiving and in hope."

Currently this amounts to some 1,500 names with roughly 300 photographs available.

The memorial stands just a short distance from the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum. The current curator of the museum is Caroline Corvan.

Her great uncle, Patrick Lawrence Corvan, was one of the many Catholics from the area who fought, and died, in World War One and she said she would love to see all the fallen of Armagh, from all backgrounds, getting the recognition they deserve.

But, while she insists the project is still active, she accepts that it is unlikely work will start to add names to the war memorial any time soon.

Image caption French people have paid tribute to Armagh's war dead, but there is still sensitivity about how they are commemorated in their home city
Image caption The memorial stands just a short distance from the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum