Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Irish teenager leads bid to save historic WWI British Legion hall in Dublin

49,000 soldiers from the island of Ireland died in World War I
49,000 soldiers from the island of Ireland died in World War I
Research suggests most people in the UK do not realise the First World War extended beyond Europe
Research suggests most people in the UK do not realise the First World War extended beyond Europe

Politicians are being urged to support a campaign to save one of the few remaining British Legion halls in Ireland built for World War I veterans.

The building in Killester, north Dublin -- part of a suburb known originally known as Little Britain -- has gone on sale for €50,000 after pleas to preserve it as a war memorial were rejected.

Aaron Crampton (16), whose great-grandfather John Brophy fought in World War I, said preserving it as some form of mini-cenotaph or community centre and peace park would be a fitting tribute.

"My nan Effie would say that when my great-grandfather John came back, he never spoke about the war," he said.

"He had his medals in a golden Princess Mary box in the living room but that was the only sign -- now the hall would be a sign to show what this area was known for and what it was built for, to show the history."

Some 247 houses were built in Killester between 1918 and 1922 for ex-servicemen and their families on what was called the garden suburb model, with large rear gardens to help families be self-sufficient.

The hall was built in the early 1920s as a community facility and is thought to be one of only two left in Ireland.

Some 49,000 soldiers from the island of Ireland died in World War I or from injuries.

Kevin Madden, an organiser in the campaign to save the Killester hall, said he hoped MPs in Britain would take up the campaign to save the building -- £1 for every Irish soldier -- in the centenary of the war's outbreak.

"If I'd one message, it'd be for Britain to lend us some moral support in leveraging the local authority here for this special purchase," he said. Aaron, who still lives in the area where his veteran relatives were housed, said a preservation order should be put on the hall.

"The hall has been near-derelict and left to rot for so long. It would have been hugely important after the wars."

Aaron's great-grandfather John Brophy enlisted in 1913 with the Highland Light Infantry, aged 19. His brother Bernard died fighting in France with the Royal Irish Regiment as the war drew to a close.

Members of a Dail committee are to hear appeals for support from the campaigners later this month.

The Republic's Department of Arts and Heritage has rejected approaches to buy the hall, saying it had set aside significant taxpayer investment in a number of Decade of Centenaries projects.

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