Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Forgotten Irish war heroes honoured

85-year-old Tommy McKenzie from Ballymun, Dublin, who served with the Australian Army, pays his respects at Glasnevin Cemetery

Dozens of Irish servicemen and women forgotten for decades after being buried in unmarked graves have finally been remembered at a poignant Armistice Day ceremony.

Forty-three headstones were erected in Dublin's Glasnevin cemetery to the war dead who had lain unrecognised in unidentified plots.

Relatives of nine of the deceased as well as several war veterans braved stormy conditions to pay their respects at a special blessing of the graves and a wreath-laying.

Two Irish Catholic priests - Fr Francis Browne SJ and Canon Francis Gleeson - who served as army chaplains during the First World War were also remembered.

Margaret Betts, whose great uncle Patrick Duignan was among those commemorated, said it was an emotional moment for her years after finding out he was buried in an unmarked grave.

"I got very upset. I wanted to erect a stone myself but I wasn't allowed," she said.

Ms Betts said her father often talked about his older brother Patrick who died aged 21 after fighting with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in France during the First World War.

"I'm absolutely delighted now they've erected the headstone. I just wish my father knew that this has happened," she said.

David Domican, whose great uncle Richard Domican died aged 28 on his way to France while serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps, said Irish people had moved on since the days when serving in British troops carried a social stigma.

"When I was brought around the graves as a kid I probably walked by where he was buried and there was no marker, so it's very sad," he said. "But it's nice that after all these years he's been remembered now. It's been a long time coming. I think a lot of people have moved on since then."

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