NLI PUTS PARISH REGISTERS ONLINE

Pictured at the launch of the National Library of Ireland's new web-repository of parish records are Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., talking to Ciara Kerrigan, project manager of the digitisation of parish registers NLI. Photo Mark Stedman, Photocall Ireland

Pictured at the launch of the National Library of Ireland’s new web-repository of parish records are Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., talking to Ciara Kerrigan, project manager of the digitisation of parish registers NLI. Photo Mark Stedman, Photocall Ireland

National Library of Ireland Launches Parish Records Website

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard   Thursday 9th July

A new digital archive of Catholic parish records which is being made available free online by the National Library of Ireland should transform and greatly enhance the task of anyone tracing family history, according to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D. She was speaking at the launch by the Library of a web-repository of parish records, dating from the 1740s to the 1880s.

The Library’s holding of parish records is considered to be the single most important source of information on Irish family history prior to the 1901 Census. Up to now, they have only been accessible on microfilm, which meant that those interested in accessing the records had to visit the National Library. This new web resource provides unlimited access to all members of the public to records covering 1,086 parishes throughout the island of Ireland, including all parishes in the Catholic diocese of Clogher (although I could find no record for Eskra, near Newtownsaville, which was once part of Clogher parish in County Tyrone.

Minister Humphreys said: “This new digital resource will help people at home and abroad who are interested in tracing their ancestry. The website provides access to church records dating back up to 270 years and includes details like the dates of baptisms and marriages, and the names of the key people involved. The records feature the baptisms of some very well-known historical figures, such as the 1916 Leaders Padraig Pearse and Thomas MacDonagh.”

“Making this kind of material available online should help to boost genealogy tourism, and will complement the work of local historical centres in communities around the country. As we approach the centenary of the 1916 Rising next year, I am keen to make as much historical material as possible available online, so we can encourage people around the world to reconnect with their Irish roots”, she said.

Acting Director of the National Library, Catherine Fahy, said:

“This access to the parish records will be transformative for genealogy services, in particular as they will allow those based overseas to consult the records without any barriers.  Effectively, the digitisation of the records is an investment in community, heritage and in our diaspora-engagement.”

Pictured at the launch of the National Library of Ireland's new web-repository of parish records are Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., talking to former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave. Photo: Mark Stedman, Photocall Ireland

Pictured at the launch of the National Library of Ireland’s new web-repository of parish records are Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., talking to former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave. Photo: Mark Stedman, Photocall Ireland

The parish registers website contains more than 370,000 high-quality, digital images of microfilm reels.  The National Library microfilmed the parish records in the 1950s and 1960s.  Some additional filming of registers from a small number of Dublin parishes took place during the late 1990s.

As a result of this work, the NLI holds microfilm copies of more than 3,550 registers from the vast majority of Catholic parishes throughout Ireland. The start date of the registers varies from the 1740/50s in some city parishes in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick, to the 1780/90s in counties such as Kildare, Wexford, Waterford and Kilkenny. Registers for parishes along the western seaboard generally do not begin until the 1850/1860s.

Catherine Fahy said: “In using the website for family or community searches, we would recommend that members of the public consult with their local family history resource to help them refine their search.  The website does not contain any transcripts or indexes, so for a search to be successful, some known facts about a person’s life will be necessary.  Effectively, those who access the new online resource will be able to cross-reference the information they uncover, and identify wider links and connections to their ancestral community by also liaising with local genealogical services or family history resources.”

Speaking at the launch An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D., said: “I would like to congratulate the National Library on their project to make the Catholic parish registers available online.  Given the devastating fire in the Four Courts in 1922, in which so many records were lost, these registers are considered the single most important record of Irish life prior to the 1901 census.

“They will be of great value to experts in the areas of history and genealogy, but also of tremendous interest to people here in Ireland and the Irish diaspora around the world.  No doubt the registers will contribute to the number of genealogical tourists to Ireland, as people of Irish descent access these records online and decide to visit their ancestral home place.”

Online access to the new website is free of charge. For more information, visit http://registers.nli.ie/.

In 1949, Dr Edward MacLysaght, Chief Herald of Ireland and Keeper of Manuscripts at the National Library of Ireland, approached the Bishop of Limerick offering the NLI’s services to help in the permanent preservation of the genealogical information contained within the Catholic Church’s collection of parish registers. The NLI’s offer to microfilm parochial registers was taken up by every member of the Hierarchy. Although civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in 1864, records were not accurately kept for a number of years, so a cut-off date of 1880 was applied for the microfilming of registers.

The usual procedure followed in relation to the microfilming was to send a senior member of NLI staff to a diocese to collect the registers, bring them to the NLI in Kildare Street for filming, and then return the registers to the diocese. The filming of registers diocese by diocese began in the 1950s and was completed over a period of twenty years. Additional filming of registers from a small number of Dublin parishes took place during the late 1990s. As a result of this work, the NLI held microfilm copies of over 3500 registers from 1086 parishes on the island of Ireland. The start dates of the registers vary from the 1740/50s in some city parishes in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick, to the 1780/90s in counties such as Kildare, Wexford, Waterford and Kilkenny. Registers for parishes along the western seaboard do not generally begin until the 1850/60s.

Church registers of marriage and baptism are considered to be the single most important source for family history researchers prior to the 1901 census. In many cases, the registers contain the only surviving record of particular individuals and families. With growing numbers of people engaged in family history research and limited on-site facilities at the NLI in Dublin, the decision was taken in 2010 to digitise the parish register microfilms. Following a tender process, the contract for digitisation was awarded to AEL Data who converted 550 microfilm reels, containing over 3500 registers into approximately 373,000 digital images. These images correspond to a page or two-page opening within a register volume.

In October 2014 the NLI Board formally approved the making available of the microfilm images online on a dedicated free-to-access website. The individual registers have been reassembled virtually and made available to users via a topographical database. The development of the parish register website has been carried out by a small team in the NLI’s Digital Library section. The digitisation of the Catholic parish register microfilms is the NLI’s most ambitious digitisation project to date. It demonstrates the NLI’s commitment to enhancing accessibility through making its collections available online.

Information can be obtained relating to the following parishes in the diocese of Clogher:

Aghavea   (Brookeborough)    

Aughalurcher (Lisnaskea)

Aughintaine     (Fivemiletown)

Aughnamullen East

Aughnamullen West (Latton)

Carn (Devenish West, Belleek & Pettigo)

Cleenish  (Arney, Belcoo)

Clogher   

Clones

Clontibret

Devenish (Botha, Derrygonnelly)

Garrison

Donacavey (Fintona)       

Donagh (Emyvale, Glaslough)

Donaghmoyne

Dromore (Co. Tyrone)    

Drumsnat and Kilmore (Corcaghan)       

Drumully (Currin, Scotshouse)

Ematris (Rockcorry)       

Enniskillen (Inis Caoin Locha Eirne)

Errigal Truagh        

Galloon (Drumully, Newtownbutler)       

Garrison 

Inniskeen (Killanny)

Innismacsaint (Maghene, Bundoran)       

Irvinestown      (Devenish)

Killany (Inniskeen)

Killeevan (Currin, Aghabog)

Kilskeery (Kilskerry, Trillick)

Maghaire Rois (Carrickmacross)

Magheracloone        

Magheraculmany (Cúl Máine, Ederney)

Monaghan (Rackwallace)

Muckno (Castleblayney)

Roslea

Tempo (Pobal)

Tullycorbet (Ballybay)    

Tydavnet

Tyholland

CEREMONY AT ISLANDBRIDGE

Heather Humphreys T.D.  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Heather Humphreys T.D.
Photo: © Michael Fisher

Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Cavan/Monaghan T.D. Heather Humphreys has had a very busy diary of engagements since her appointment to the Cabinet just less than twelve months ago. Yesterday she was with An Taoiseach launching the new online search facility for genealogists at the National Library, where old Catholic parish registers that were on microfilm have been digitised.

Today Minister Humphreys attended the Royal British Legion’s annual ceremony at the National War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge in Dublin. She read a lesson and also laid a laurel wreath. Tomorrow there will be a national day of commemoration at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham at 11am. Speaking ahead of the ceremony the Minister said: Speaking ahead of the ceremony Minister Humphreys said:

“This ceremony remembers the Irish men and women who died during the two world wars. Just last week I travelled to the Somme to mark the 99th anniversary of what was the bloodiest battle of World War One, claiming thousands of Irish lives.

“Through the World War One commemorative events, we have gained a much greater understanding of the scale of Irish sacrifice and suffering. Families have, for the first time, discovered that their relatives went to the Front to fight, and many of them never returned home.

“One hundred years on, Ireland is respectfully remembering its sons and daughters who served in what was a horrific conflict. Events such as this one help us not only to pay respect to those who died, but also to recognise how far we have come over the last century.”

Royal British Legion Ceremony of Remembrance

Royal British Legion Ceremony of Remembrance

In the Irish Times, Marie O’Halloran reports as follows:

“The Sinn Féin Lord Mayors of Dublin and Belfast and the Sinn Féin Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly have laid wreaths at a ceremony in Dublin to commemorate the dead of the first and second World Wars. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys led the wreath­laying at a ceremony organised by the Royal British Legion in Ireland at the National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge, Dublin. Members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, along with members of the Defence Forces, attended the annual commemoration, which was first held in 2006 to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. It is now held on an annual basis on the Saturday before the National Day of Commemoration.

Ms Humphreys laid a laurel wreath at the cenotaph, as did newly elected Dublin Lord Mayor Cllr Críona Ní Dhálaigh and Lord Mayor of Belfast Cllr Arder Carson. Poppy wreath Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett laid a poppy wreath, while Speaker of the Assembly Mitchel McLaughlin laid a laurel wreath. Poppy and laurel wreaths were laid by representatives of the diplomatic corps and others from a number of states including the Vatican, Japan, Republic of Cyprus, the UK, the Russian Federation, Netherlands, Australia, India, France, Nigeria, Lithuania, Germany, the US and Kenya. In all more than 100 wreaths were laid during the ceremony, introduced by Lt Col Ken Martin, chairman of the Royal British Legion in the south.

He told almost 1,000 people in attendance that they were in a “garden of exquisite beauty” in the centre “of what can only be described as the finest national memorial to the sacrifice of a nation, in Europe”. They were there, he said, to remember the sacrifice for the defence of small nations. Archdeacon of Ferns Christopher Long said that every war was cruel, but the first World War “was unlike any other ­ unspeakable carnage, the unbearable loss, the almost unbelievable bravery”. He said it was a conflict that spread from the western front to the deserts of the Mediterranean, from the plains of Poland to the frozen mountains of Austria, touching and ending millions of lives. Dismissed as ‘pointless war’ “Too often it is dismissed as a pointless war, wrought by people who didn’t know why they were fighting. I believe that to be wrong. Men signed up to prevent the domination of a continent, to preserve the principle of freedom that we cherish today.” He added that “we should never fail to cherish peace in our country, and never underestimate the patient work it has taken to build and to maintain that peace”.

Members of the Royal British Legion paraded at the start of the ceremony to the accompaniment of the Army No 1 Band, and during the ceremony as the wreaths were laid the band was accompanied by the Tramore Ladies Choir. The lament ‘Oft in the Stilly Night’ was played as wreaths were laid at the memorial. Ms Humphreys read a lesson during the ecumenical ceremony.

Head of the Defence Forces Chaplaincy Monsignor Eoin Thynne HCF

Head of the Defence Forces Chaplaincy Monsignor Eoin Thynne HCF

Head chaplain of the Defence Forces, Msgr Eoin Thynne read the bidding prayers for all those who suffered as a result of conflict. He prayed “for peace­makers and peace­keepers who seek to keep this world secure and free”. Minute’s silence The Last Post was played and president of the Royal British Legion in the south Major Gen The O’Morchoe read the exhortation: “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.” A minute’s silence was observed and the Reveille played and the dedication then read: “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today.”

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Ms Humphreys said: “So many thousands of Irish men lost their lives in the first World War…It didn’t matter whether they were unionist or nationalist, it didn’t matter whether they were Protestant or Catholic ­ the bombs and the bullets of war treated them all the same. So it’s nice that we’re all here today to remember those who lost their lives in the first World War.”

FIVE MONAGHAN WINNERS IN TEXACO ART

Frances Treanor from Tydavnet receives her prize from Arts Minister Heather Humphreys T.D. and James Twohig of sponsors Valero (Texaco).  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Frances Treanor from Tydavnet receives her prize from Arts Minister Heather Humphreys T.D. and James Twohig of sponsors Valero (Texaco). Photo: © Michael Fisher

TYDAVNET ART STUDENT’S WINNING PORTRAIT TO BE EXHIBITED IN TOKYO 

Michael Fisher   Northern Standard  Thursday 4th June p.1/2

Art student Frances Treanor from Drumdart, Tydavnet, a neighbour of mine. who won this year’s Texaco Children’s Art Competition, will travel to Japan later this month to see her stunning self portrait exhibited in Tokyo. At the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin last Thursday, 18 year-old Frances was one of five Monaghan entrants to collect their prizes. She was presented with a cheque for €1500 by local TD and Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys. Frances is the first person from County Monaghan to win the overall prize in the 61 years of the competition. Minister Humphreys told the 126 prizewinners and their families:

“The very inventive work on display here today is expressive, colourful and uplifting. The attention to detail is amazing. It shows us just what is possible when young people work to fulfil their creative potential. Being involved in the arts can have a hugely positive impact on schoolchildren. Young people who are active in the arts have been shown to perform better academically and go on to lead fuller and indeed more creative lives,” she added.

Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D. Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D. Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Minister paid particular tribute to Frances Treanor and said she was delighted to see the overall winner coming from her own county. Frances created her self-portrait using a single black Bic pen. She described the young artist’s piece as “incredible” and praised her painstaking attention to detail. “Your art is a labour of love for you”, she said. She wished Frances well on her trip to Japan to take part in an international exhibition. It will be hosted by the International Foundation for Arts and Culture in the Tokyo’s National Art Centre.

No doubt you will do Monaghan and Ireland proud, she told Frances, who was joined at the event by her twin sister Maeve, her neighbour and friend Helen Keenan from Drumcoo Woods, and her parents, Sean and Anne. James Twohig, Director Ireland Operations of Valero, the company that markets fuel in Ireland under the Texaco brand, also wished Frances well on her travels and said it would be a wonderful experience for her.

He praised all of the winners for their skill and enthusiasm and thanked the many teachers from schools throughout Ireland who had given their support to the competition throughout its 61 years. He thanked the judges, headed by the Director of the National College for Art and Design, Professor Declan McGonagle. Mr McGonagle said that it was a hard decision to choose a winner but he believed that Frances Treanor’s was the most impressive.

“What’s amazing is the effect which she’s produced. It’s quite remarkable when you look at it because it’s very hard to see how she got that effect with something as ordinary as a biro. It’s a demonstration of the skill, concentration, motivation, and commitment which goes into something like that,” he said.

Rachel McKenna, Scotstown, with her special award painting, "The Script -- Tired of Posing".  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Rachel McKenna, Scotstown, with her special award painting, “The Script — Tired of Posing”.
Photo: © Michael Fisher

Another Monaghan winner was 16 year-old transition year student at St Louis Secondary School Monaghan, Rachel McKenna from Scotstown. She received a special merit award for her entry called “The Script – Tired of Posing”.

Sophia Goodman from Killanny with her painting "The Nice Flowers" that won 3rd prize in Category E. Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Sophia Goodman from Killanny with her painting “The Nice Flowers” that won 3rd prize in Category E. Photo: © Michael Fisher

In the younger age groups, there was a remarkable success by three pupils from the same school near Carrickmacross, Scoil Naoimh Éanna in Killanny. Sophia Goodman, aged 7, came third in the 7-8 years age category. She won a €125 art voucher for her entry entitled “The Nice Flowers”. In the same category, Kate Norton (7) who painted “The Cute Kittens” got €50 and an art box while Grace Conlon (6) got €30 and an art box for her work “Bird Tunes”. Both received Special Merit Awards.

Kate Norton, Drumever, Killanny, receives her certificate from James Twohig of sponsores Valero (Texaco).  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Kate Norton, Drumever, Killanny, receives her certificate from James Twohig of sponsores Valero (Texaco). Photo: © Michael Fisher

Professor Declan McGonagle was assisted by a panel of judges including Dr. Denise Ferran (Artist & Art Historian), Eoin Butler (Artist & Lecturer in Visual Arts), Seán Kissane (Curator: Exhibitions, IMMA), Aoife Ruane (Director, Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery, Drogheda) and Colleen Watters (Head of Learning & Partnership, Ulster Museum, Belfast).

Grace Conlon, Lannat,  Killanny, receives her special merit certificate for her painting "Bird Tunes".   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Grace Conlon, Lannat, Killanny, receives her special merit certificate for her painting “Bird Tunes”. Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Texaco Children’s Art Competition is the longest running sponsorship in the history of arts sponsoring in Ireland – and popularly regarded as Ireland’s longest-running sponsorship of any kind. It has an unbroken history that dates back to the very first Competition held in 1955. This year, as has been the case throughout its life, it has been a platform on which young artists have had their talents recognised and a springboard on which many have risen to national and international prominence. Aside from giving students the space to give expression to their talent and skill, the Competition has focused a spotlight on the quality of art teaching in Irish schools and the importance that the educational establishment attaches to the subject of art education.

Kate Norton's painting "The Cute Kittens" won a Special Merit award in Category E.   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Kate Norton’s painting “The Cute Kittens” won a Special Merit award in Category E. Photo: © Michael Fisher

Past winners whose early interest in art and the arts may well have been encouraged by their participation in the Competition include artists Graham Knuttel, Robert Ballagh, Bernadette Madden, Dorothy Cross, fashion designer Paul Costello and former broadcaster and artist Thelma Mansfield. Other notable past winners include Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn TD (a four-times winner), PR guru and columnist Terry Prone, ICTU General Secretary David Begg, actress Jean Anne Crowley, musician Ethna Tinney, Trinity College Professor of Contemporary Irish History, Eunan O’Halpin and the late novelist Clare Boylan.

Grace Conlon's painting "Bird Tunes" won a Special Merit award in Category F.   Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Grace Conlon’s painting “Bird Tunes” won a Special Merit award in Category F. Photo: © Michael Fisher

TAOISEACH OPENS MONAGHAN CAMPUS

Taoiseach's car passes anti-water tax protestors outside Campus gates  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Taoiseach’s car passes anti-water tax protestors outside Campus gates Photo: © Michael Fisher

There was a small protest by a group of around two dozen demonstraors from the Monaghan Anti-Water Tax group as the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD arrived to open officially the Monaghan Educational Campus. It was constructed on the site of the former army barracks at Knockaconny, which was decommissioned in 2009. Owing to the protest, the newly installed plaque at the entrance gates was not unveiled by Mr Kenny, as originally planned.

Plaque at entrance gates to Monaghan Educational Campus  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Plaque at entrance gates to Monaghan Educational Campus Photo: © Michael Fisher

The new campus opened its doors in 2013 and was the brainchild of the Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board under the leadership of Martin O’Brien. It includes two Irish language schools, Gaelscoil Ultain for primary level and Coláiste Oiriall for secondary level. It also houses a gym, named in honour of Barry McGuigan, sports facilities, the purpose-built Garage Theatre, replacing the small and cramped premises at the old St Davnet’s Hospital, and a building for the Monaghan Institute.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD talking to Brendan Ó Dufaigh Principal Coláiste Oiriall and Arts Minister Heather Humphreys TD  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD talking to Brendan Ó Dufaigh Principal Coláiste Oiriall and Arts Minister Heather Humphreys TD Photo: © Michael Fisher

Mr Kenny was shown an audiovisual presentation about how the campus had been developed since his previous visit in October 2011, when construction was starting. On that occasion the Taoiseach described it as a brilliant concept and a great decision for the people of County Monaghan.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD unveils plaque at Monaghan Educational campus with CEO of CMETB Martin O'Brien and local politicians  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD unveils plaque at Monaghan Educational campus with CEO of CMETB Martin O’Brien and local politicians Photo: © Michael Fisher

The campus was officially blessed in an ecumenical service that included the two Bishops of Clogher, Dr Liam MacDaid and Most Reverent John McDowell, along with Monaghan Presbytery Moderator Reverend Ronnie Agnew and Methodist District Superintendent Reverend Ken Robinson from Portadown (pictured saying a prayer).

Ecumenical Blessing of Monaghan Educational Campus Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Ecumenical Blessing of Monaghan Educational Campus Photo: © Michael Fisher

Today was an even bigger day for County Monaghan as it coincided with an announcement by local company Combilift that it was moving to new premises beside the Monaghan by-pass and in a €40 million investment creating 200 new jobs over the next five years at what will be its global headquarters. Mr Kenny visited the plant and said the investment would make a profound difference to the local economy and the national export economy. combilogolarge

WWI EXHIBITION

Sir John (Jack) Leslie in Caledon Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Sir John (Jack) Leslie in Caledon Photo: © Michael Fisher

Among the family stories examined in a new World War One exhibition at the National Library in Dublin is that of the Leslies of Castle Leslie, Glaslough, County Monaghan. Sir John (Jack) Leslie now 98 and a veteran of the Second World War was there to help with the opening of the exhibition. It was attended by the British Ambassador Dominick Chilcott and the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys TD, from County Monaghan.

The display will run for four years and features letters, diaries, newspapers, leaflets and photographs from the library’s archives and aims to depict the various aspects of the Irish experience of the war, and Ireland’s response to the conflict. It is supported by the British Embassy and is part of the National Library’s programme for the Decade of Commemorations.

Nikki Ralston, exhibition curator for the NLI, said: “Irish people had very diverse and complex reactions to World War I. This exhibition captures those sentiments, and also recounts the tense domestic situation in the Ireland of 1914. We felt one of the best ways to illustrate how Ireland experienced the war was to explore a range of themes through real-life stories. We have chosen to focus on four people who had very different experiences, and we have featured their writings – including personal diaries and letters– in this exhibition. These primary sources are complemented by audio, video and touchscreen installations to create a multi-layered, multimedia experience for all visitors.”

The four real-life stories featured in the new exhibition focus on:

DSC_0077

Sir John (Jack) Leslie at Monaghan County Museum Photo: © Michael Fisher

**Captain Norman Leslie, 28 Rifle Brigade, second son of the well-known Leslie family from Castle Leslie, had become heir to the family estate when his elder brother, Shane, converted to Catholicism and became a supporter of Irish Home Rule. An experienced soldier when the war broke out, Norman was shot and killed in October 1914, while charging a German machine gun armed only with a sword (it was considered ungentlemanly for officers to carry guns). He is buried in France at Chapelle d’Armentieres Old Military Cemetery. The sword he was carrying when he died was eventually returned to the Leslie family, and now hangs in the gallery of Castle Leslie. It was carried by Jack, his nephew, for the opening of the exhibition.

Jack’s nephew, Mark Leslie; and Mark’s son, Luke were also present. The family spoke of how Norman’s memory is kept alive at Castle Leslie, where his sporting trophies adorn the entrance hall and his sword – considered a symbol of good luck – is used to cut all wedding cakes at the Castle.

**Joseph Mary Plunkett, the poet, journalist and revolutionary, best known as a leader of the 1916 Rising and a signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. In April 1915, he accompanied Roger Casement to Germany to seek German support for an uprising in Ireland. He subsequently fought alongside Pearse and Connolly in the GPO in 1916. Imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol, he married Grace Gifford just hours before his execution in May 1916.

**Mary Martin, a widow and mother of 12 from Monkstown, Co. Dublin. Three of her children served overseas during the war, including her son, Charlie, who was reported wounded and missing in late 1915. Believing he had been taken prisoner, Mary began keeping a diary in the form of a letter to Charlie. She subsequently discovered he had died of his wounds soon after his capture. Her other children, including her daughter Marie, survived the war. Marie, who had served as a nurse in Malta and France, went on to found the Medical Missionaries of Mary in 1937. Mary’s wartime diary is included in the NLI exhibition.

**Michael O’Leary, a farmer’s son from Co. Cork, who served with the Irish Guards on the Western Front. In February 1915, he single-handedly charged two German barricades in France, killing eight men and taking two prisoner. He was awarded the Victoria Cross, and became internationally famous, with journalists even thronging to the O’Leary family farm in Cork. The story of his wartime exploits was put to very different uses, inspiring both a recruiting campaign and a satirical play by George Bernard Shaw. He retired from the army in 1921, but re-joined during World War Two. He died in 1961.

Minister for Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys TD Photo: Sir John (Jack) Leslie in Caledon Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Minister for Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys TD Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Launching the exhibition, Minister Heather Humphreys said: “This exhibition in the National Library allows us to understand the sheer magnitude of the First World War through very personal stories. By choosing to focus on four people and their different experiences, the Library has brought to life the real-life challenges and dilemmas which they faced 100 years ago. We can walk in their shoes, hear their words and see their hand-written letters. I was interested to see the Leslie family from Co Monaghan featuring in the exhibition. The story of the tragic death of Norman Leslie in 1914 gives us just one of example of the brutal way in which tens of thousands of Irish men lost their lives during the War. This fascinating exhibition is part of the Library’s programme for the Decade of Commemorations, and I would encourage as many people as possible to check it out.”

The NLI exhibition includes an audio module, ‘Words and Music: the Sounds of War’, supported by the British Embassy in Ireland. This features Irish poetry of World War I, interspersed with popular songs of the period and recorded readings of original letters from those affected by the conflict.

Addressing the launch, British Ambassador Dominick Chilcott said: “The British government are very pleased to be supporting the National Library of Ireland’s excellent work of commemorating the events of 100 years ago. The National Library’s archive of First World War documents is a rich one; and our understanding of the Great War and the Irish experience of it benefits hugely from this collection. The part of this exhibition that the British government helped to fund is the ‘listening post’, where you can hear period songs and readings of poetry and letters. The generation that went to war was a highly literary one. They wrote huge numbers of letters as well as much poetry and many books and diaries recording their experiences at the Front. We are fortunate in having so much material to explore.”

More details of the exhibition can be found here.

EMYVALE PLAQUES

Donagh Oratory: Site of former courthouse and parochial hall

Donagh Oratory: Site of former courthouse and parochial hall

I happened to be passing through Emyvale, County Monaghan, on Monday on William Carleton summer school business when I was introduced to the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Public Service Reform, Brian Hayes TD. Accompanied by Fine Gael TD Heather Humphreys, he was carrying out a number of engagements in the constituency. He was shown around the village by a group that has erected stone plaques marking the history of five buildings.

Presentation made to Brian Hayes TD Photo: © Michael Fisher

Presentation made to Brian Hayes TD Photo: © Michael Fisher

One of the plaques is at a former orange hall LOL 581 at Bog Lane. The Minister was told it is hoped that this building at the top of the village close to the duck farm will eventually be transformed into a heritage centre. Other plaques mark the site of the old Market House, the former RIC/Garda Barracks, the former Courthouse and Parochial Hall (now the Oratory), and the former Village Inn and Courthouse.

Minister of State, Brian Hayes TD

Minister of State, Brian Hayes TD

In a separate initiative some time ago, an original name stone has been placed beside the entrance to the Leisure Centre and incorporated into a flower bed. It was the sign for a primitive Wesleyan Methodist Preaching House and Mission School (1836) that stood on the site. Emyvale Leisure Centre is the venue for a reading of William Carleton’s story, ‘Fair of Emyvale’, on Sunday 4th August at 7pm. Please note that this time is subject to change. The short story has been adapted by Liam Foley from Clogher and will be performed by the Carleton Players, who will be joined by local actor Pat Deery in the role of narrator. Admission FREE.

Name stone outside Leisure Centre

Name stone outside Leisure Centre