The news from Ukraine everyday reminds us of the bloody and harrowing tales that go hand in hand with war
As the years go by, and the world becomes smaller, stories of present day fighting is beamed into our homes on a regular and painful basis.
When the ‘Kilkenny great war memorial committee’ unveiled the fantastic memorial at Kilkenny’s Peace Park in 2018, one of the prayers on the day was for the continuation of world peace.
If nothing else, the current days struggle in Ukraine shows how horrible and devastating such wars are.
It places a different complexion on the gathering this Sunday when members of the Great war memorial committee join to remember those who died at the battle of The Somme.
And, painful and distressing as the talk of war can be, it is important to remember and in particular to remember our fallen dead.
Perhaps it is nigh on impossible for us to comprehend what those brave men and women who died for their country went through.
The first day of the Somme was the deadliest day in British military history – of the 57,470 British casualties, 19,240 men had been killed.
The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was fought during the First World War from 1 July to 18 November 1916. In the summer of 1916 the British launched the largest battle of the war on the Western Front, against German lines. The offensive was one of the bloodiest in human history.
This coming Sunday, at the Great War memorial, at The Peace Park, a special commemoration will take place to remember those from Kilkenny who died at the Somme.
The short ceremony will focus in particular on the one hundred and twenty six Kilkenny people who lost their lives during the Somme battle.
The remembrance will consist of poetry, prayer, music and wreath laying.
One poem which was read last year by John Joe Cullen sums up much of the pain and grief of war.
It was composed by one of the best known war poets Tom Kettle who was killed in action with ‘B’ Company of the 9th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in an attack on German lines on 9 September 1916, near the village of Ginchy during the Somme Offensive in France.
During the ceremony, which begins at 11am, The Last Post and Reveille will be played and the event will include a minutes silence as well as the raising of the National flag and the playing of the National anthem.
Many Kilkenny men who died in the battle of the Somme are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Authuille, France.
Speaking to The Kilkenny Observer newspaper , Commandant Larry Scallan (retired) from James Stephens barracks, told of the great number of men who died on the Somme.
Larry also informed the paper that seven Kilkenny men died on the first day July 1st.
One of those men was 13084 Private Luke Coughlin who served in the Machine Gun Corps, who left a wife called Kate and three children James, Mary and Margaret.
Luke’s army pension was paid until his youngest child reached 16 years old in 1930.
Seventy two Kilkenny men of the battle of the Somme have no known grave and are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Chair of The Great War Memorial Committee Donal Croghan has issued an open invitation for people to join in the 11 am start on Sunday and that those wishing to lay a wreath would be welcome to do so.
To My Darling Daughter Betty
In wiser days, my darling rosebud, blown
To beauty proud as was your Mother’s prime.
In that desired, delayed, incredible time,
You’ll ask why I abandoned you, my own,
And the dear heart that was your baby throne,
To die with death. And oh! they’ll give you rhyme
And reason: some will call the thing sublime,
And some decry it in a knowing tone.
So here, while the mad guns curse overhead,
And tired men sigh with mud for couch and floor,
Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead,
Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor,
But for a dream, born in a herdsmen shed,
And for the secret Scripture of the poor.