Military Heritage of Ireland Trust Ltd.Collins Barracks Trust News  Issue 3 May 2004

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Launch of the Guide to Irish Military Heritage  

A Guide to Irish Military Heritage was published by Four Courts Press, Dublin, at the beginning of March 2004 and was publicly launched by the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, Mr John O’Donoghue, T. D. on the 4th March 2004. A copy of the Minister’s speech is at the end of this Newsletter. The venue for the launch was in the fine setting of the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, Dublin , and attracted a strong and varied attendance, both military and civilian, and from both parts of Ireland, North and South.

The Guide to Irish Military Heritage was compiled by Dr Brian Hanley in conjunction with Prof Eunan O’Halpin of the Department of Modern History at Trinity College, Dublin, on behalf of the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust. It will assist members of the public who wish to research the military service of family members and specialist researchers alike in locating records, museums, buildings, memorials and websites relevant to Irish military heritage throughout the island of Ireland.

The Minister also used the occasion to announce details of the Military Exhibition at Collins Barracks due to open in late 2005. He spoke of how appropriate it is to have this Exhibition in Collins Barracks, a Barracks in continuous military usage since the early 18th century, and that this connection will continue, through the Exhibition, into the future. It will display and interpret artefacts from at home and abroad and will be a central hub establishing links to other military museums in Ireland and elsewhere.

The Minister was introduced by the Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Dr Patrick Wallace. He also introduced two other speakers - Maj Gen (Retd) Paddy Nowlan, Chairman of the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust, who spoke of the achievement for the Trust in the publication of the ‘Guide’, and Col (Retd) Harvey Bicker, from Co. Down, also a Director of the Trust, who enlarged on the enormous benefits to the people of Ireland, North and South, that the Military Exhibition will bring, particularly through the links to the other museums throughout Ireland.

The No 1 Army  Band, under the baton of the Director of the Army School of Music, Col Brendan Power, entertained the Guests throughout the afternoon.

Ireland’s Military Heritage Society

A meeting was held in McKee Barracks, Dublin, on 4th May for the purpose of forming a support group to assist in the work of the Trust. This followed from a well-attended briefing held at Collins Barracks Dublin, where the Chairman, Maj. Gen. P. Nowlan, outlined the goals and future activities of this group. It was agreed that the new support group would be titled “Ireland’s Military Heritage Society”. A small working group was appointed to draw up proposals for the future work of the society that will support the work of the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust. More information will be provided in future newsletters.

National Day of Commemoration 2004

The annual National Day of Commemoration will be held on Sunday 11th July at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. The ceremony commemorates all those Irishmen and Irishwomen who died in past wars or on service with the United Nations. President McAleese will lay a wreath. The Taoiseach Mr. Bertie Ahern, members of the Oireachteas, Council of State, Judiciary, representatives of the Faith Traditions of Ireland, the Defence Forces, members of the Public. and the Chairman and Directors of the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust Ltd. will attend.


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Address by John O'Donoghue TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism at the launch of the 'Guide to Irish Military Heritage' and 'The Irish at War' Military Galleries Exhibition project National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks,  Dublin 8, Thursday 4th March 2004 at 3.00 pm 

"Dear Guests,

This afternoon I have the pleasant duty to announce a new and unique guidebook and a project not yet completed but well started - the Military Galleries Exhibition.

The 5th Infantry Battalion marched out of this Barracks - reputedly the oldest continuously occupied military barracks in the world - for the last time in 1997, and made way for the National Museum . One could say that the three-hundred year old military history of these buildings had come to an end; I like to think not. Today it is appropriate that we acknowledge the history, the memories and traditions of this historic place as we launch the Guide to Irish Military Heritage.

The Military Heritage of Ireland Trust, which was established in 1999, saw the need for a guide such as this. In researching other aspects of our history there are guides available on genealogy and the economic and social life of the people. But up to now there has been nothing to assist those who wish to research the military service of family members. It is easy to access information on the conduct of wars, campaigns and battles, but where is the information on the soldiers who fought and died in past wars or on peacekeeping service with the United Nations?

To fill this gap, the Trust decided to produce a Guide to Irish Military Heritage. This Guide provides the indicators that will enable members of the general public and the specialist researcher locate records, objects, buildings, museums, memorials and places relevant to Irish military heritage, throughout the island of Ireland . It is the first publication produced by the Trust and I hope it will not be the last.

Dr. Brian Hanley has compiled the book in conjunction with Professor Eunan O'Halpin of Trinity College , Dublin with the support of the Ireland Fund. This is undoubtedly a valuable publication which I know will be of great assistance to all who are interested in the military service of Irish men and women. I congratulate Brian and Eunan and the publishers and I commend it to you.

An intrinsic component in the Museum's Exhibit Strategy for this complex is the Military History Galleries exhibition. The Military exhibition will fulfil many purposes. It will mean a continuation of the historical 'military' connection with the Barracks; it will display and interpret Ireland 's rich military history using our own fine collection of military artefacts and, indeed, artefacts loaned from other institutions and individuals both at home and abroad. The exhibition can also be a link between other military museums in Ireland , Britain and further afield. I know that the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust has been actively developing support for an all-Ireland approach to military museums and exhibitions with the museums of the Royal Irish Fusiliers at Armagh, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Enniskillen and the Royal Ulster Rifles at Belfast . I look forward to close cooperation between these organisations, the Trust and the National Museum of Ireland in developing future military exhibitions.

To bring this project forward, Dr. Pat Wallace, the Director of the Museum, appointed a Curator with specialist knowledge for the exhibition - Lar Joye. An interpretative planner was also retained - Paul Martinovich, and of course my own Department and the Office of Public Works (OPW) came fully on board.

The story that will be told here in Collins Barracks in the new Military History Galleries will be entitled The Irish at War. The themes that will be covered include 'The British Garrison in Ireland', 'Battles in Ireland', 'The Irish Soldier Abroad', 'Irish in British Service', 'Soldiering in World War I', 'A New Kind of War' and 'Soldiers of the Irish State'. This is a huge and, dare I say, stirring range of topics to be covered. I have every confidence that Dr Wallace and his team will do it justice. The OPW have applied for planning permission for a two storey purpose-built extension behind the north east of Clarke Square . The Exhibition will be the largest undertaken to date by the National Museum and will extend to 2,000 square metres. It will cost, including construction, about €9m. There are drawings of the scheme around us here for those who wish to see them. With a fair wind behind the project, I look forward to declaring The Irish at War exhibition open sometime around the end of next year.

My two announcements today involve the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust. I am pleased to note that the Trust is a North-South, all-Ireland body; its work encompassing all that is relevant to the military heritage of all communities in Ireland , regardless of political or religious beliefs. Let me say I believe this to be a worthy cause. While none of us care for war, we have a duty of remembrance to those belonging to us who perished in war and to those whom they left behind.

My two announcements today involve the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust. I am pleased to note that the Trust is a North-South, all-Ireland body; its work encompassing all that is relevant to the military heritage of all communities in Ireland , regardless of political or religious beliefs. Let me say I believe this to be a worthy cause. While none of us care for war, we have a duty of remembrance to those belonging to us who perished in war and to those whom they left behind.

As a Member of the previous Government and Minister for Justice I was deeply involved in the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement. If I may paraphrase, one of the aims of that Agreement was to take the "war out of politics". This exhibition and the story that will be told here will help us in a sense to take the politics out of war - or the wars of the past at least. My hope is that it will make possible a look back with sympathy, humanity understanding and appreciation at the lives of the Irish soldier - irrespective of the side they found themselves on - in the conflicts of the past.

Finally, I want to thank my colleague the Minister for Defence, Michael Smith TD, his Department and the Defence Forces for their support of the Museum and of the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust. The Directors of the Trust, who had the vision and foresight to support the Military Galleries project and to commission this book, also deserve our thanks. I am happy that this exhibition and the initiatives of the Trust will be rewarded through a greater appreciation of our recent and shared heritage on this island.

Thank you.”

 

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