Total War in Flanders - the Irish Connection

Edward BrierleyThe Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association Archive held at Dublin City Library and Archive holds the personal papers of a number of Irish men who fought at the Belgium Front in 1917.

Dubliner, Edward Brierley fought at the Battle of Messines during his remarkable army career which included winning three Certificates for bravery. He survived the war and on returning to Ireland he went on to have a second notable career, signing for Shelbourne Association Football Club (AFC) in 1922 and playing in the FAI Cup Final on St. Patrick’s Day 1923. He also played for the Ballsbridge team St. Mary’s United (AFC).

Photo: Edward Brierley seated, in uniform (Ref. RDFA/09/27)

100 Years since start of Battle of Wijtschate /Messines Ridge

Messines Peace ParkThe Battle of Messines (7–14 June 1917) was an offensive conducted by the British Second Army, under the command of General Sir Herbert Plumer, on the Western Front near the village of Messines in West Flanders, Belgium, during the First World War. Today on the centenary of the beginning of the battle, an island of Ireland commemoration, jointly led by the Governments of Ireland and the UK, in partnership with the Mayor of Messines, will take place at 14.00 at the island of Ireland Peace Park in Belgium.

Image: Turning of the first sod on the site of the Island of Ireland Peace Park, performed by representatives of the British and Irish armies. Private Dickenson and Trooper Paul Kellett. (Ref. RDFA.068 pg.14)

Messines Peace Park: Its contribution to Irish-British reconciliation

speakers & organisersDublin City Library and Archive and The Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association presented a seminar titled 'Messines Peace Park: Its contribution to Irish-British reconciliation' on Friday 19 May at The Council Chamber, City Hall, Dame Street. Many thanks to all speakers, Bertie Ahern, Barabara Walshe, Dr Chris McGimpsey, Dr Alasdair McDonnell and Tom Burke and to the Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr, who formally opened the seminar. Thank-you to Paddy Harte Junior who read Peace Pledge to formally close the seminar.

About The Messines Peace Park

Messines Peace ParkThe Island of Ireland Peace Park, more usually known as the Messines Peace Park, is a memorial to the soldiers on the island of Ireland who died, were wounded or went missing during World War I. It is located close to site of the June 1917 battle for The Wijtschate -Messines Ridge. The project was initiated by A Journey of Reconciliation Trust, a broadbased cross-border Irish organization which hopes to bring together people of diverse beliefs. The Trust comprised representatives of the main churches in Ireland, with professional and political representatives together with community leaders from both parts of Ireland under the leadership of Paddy Harte and Glenn Barr.

Rose Mary Savage, Voluntary Aid Detachment, RDFA /107 Collection at DCLA

Rose Mary Savage12th May is Nurses Day when around the world people are celebrating nursing, on what was Florence Nightingale’s birthday.  The Royal College of Nurses theme this year is #nursesheroes and one nurse which most definitely is deserving of this title is Rose Mary Savage (1893-1983), whose personal papers was donated to Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association Archive at Dublin City Library and Archives, and have recently been catalogued.

Mansion House Visit

Mansion HouseOn the evening of the 10th April 2017 Dr. Mary Clark (Archivist) Dublin City Libraries and Archives organised a group tour of the Mansion House at the request of her colleague Veronica Coffey, who has a partial impairment. Veronica co-ordinated the group of Visually Impaired people and her sighted friends from “The National League of the Blind Trust” to visit this historic building.

There were sixteen in the group. We were given a warm welcome and everyone felt very much at ease with an unexpected cup of tea/coffee arranged for us. We were greeted by Dr. Mary Clark, Alastair Smeaton (former colleague) was our chief photographer. We received a personal introduction to the Lord Mayor Brendan Carr. The Lord Mayor specifically gave up his time to have his photo taken with the group.  Some totally blind people got to inspect his medal and chain of office.

News from Nelson: Sources

NelsonI am pleased to relate that my colleagues at Dublin City Library & Archive are always working diligently on my behalf and they have compiled a source-list of materials in the Reading Room should you wish to find out more about my Goodself.

Periodically, the Minutes and Reports of Dublin City Council tell of plans to relocate me to Merrion Square, to erect statues to Tone and others in my place  and to help ease the capital’s growing traffic problems by removal of my Pillar altogether. In July 1919, at the first meeting of the Irish War Memorial Committee (records held at Dublin City Archives), it was suggested that my Pillar be converted to the national memorial monument to Irishmen who fell in the Great War. Various proposals for replacing my Pillar emerged from 1988 onwards, until eventually The Millennium Spire was put in place. It is, in its own way, the new Pillar of Dublin.

Charter of Henry II: 1171-2

Charter of Henry IIIn the wake of the Norman Invasion of Ireland, Dublin was seized in 1170 by Richard de Clare, better known as Strongbow.  His overlord, King Henry II, was alarmed as it seemed likely that a separate and independent kingdom might be established in Ireland.  Accordingly he decided to visit in person to assert his authority, and his journey was financed by the merchants of Bristol.

"We are having hell of a time": Letters from the Somme 1916

Mansfield collectionJuly 2016 marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest and horrific periods of World War 1.  Despite lasting only 4 months, it incurred over 1.2 million casualties.  Impossible as it may be to understand these barbaric acts of extreme violence these men experienced, letters sent home from the Front to loved ones and friends offer us a unique glimpse into this period.  These letters provide us with a first hand account of the Somme, enabling us to piece together a picture of the daily life, opinions, and the innermost thoughts and fears of a soldier fighting at the Somme.

One such collection of letters are those sent by Harold Barton Mansfield to his wife Eveleen Mansfield (nee Barton), who was expecting their first child during the course of their correspondence.  In what is a series of honest, poignant and, at times, moving letters, Harold recounts his daily experiences of trench life to his wife and, by extension, us.

News from Nelson: Echoland

EcholandI have just finished with great enjoyment Joe Joyce’s novel Echoland which is this year’s choice for ‘One City, One Book’.  It is set in Dublin in the months of May and June 1940 and it vividly brought back the past to me.  The characters regularly go to drink tea in the posh and popular Monument Creamery Café which had two branches, one in Grafton Street and one in O’Connell Street right beside me – they were of course named after my own good self – as I was the Monument.

There is one specific reference to my Pillar (on page 339) which relates to my function (out of many) as the terminus for Dublin trams.  Speaking of monuments, the statue of Queen Victoria, which stood on Leinster Lawn – it was removed in 1948 to the Royal Hospital Kilmainham to make way for a car-park and in 1988 it was sent to Australia as a bicentenary gift – is another influence in the book. The statue is quite the minx, flirting shamelessly with the principal character, Paul Duggan, having previously glared at him. 

The Shaws of Bushy Park, Terenure

Robert ShawRobert Shaw was one of Dublin’s foremost financial experts, with his own bank, Robert Shaw and Son at Foster Place. He was born in 1774. His father, Robert Senior moved to Dublin in the 18th century where he prospered as a merchant and became the Accountant General of the Post Office. In 1785 Robert Senior acquired Terenure House, an estate of 35 acres – a sign of his growing wealth.

Image right: Robert Shaw Esq.

On reaching the age of 21 in 1795 Robert Shaw (Junior) obtained the municipal franchise and became a member of the Guild of Merchants. He was elected to the Dublin City Assembly (forerunner of the present day City Council) as a representative of the Merchants Guild. Robert Shaw was appointed to Dublin Corporation’s Committee of Finance and elected Lord Mayor in 1815-16. He was a founding member of the Royal Bank of Ireland which his bank merged with in 1837. Robert Shaw was a Member of Parliament for New Ross and Dublin from 1804 – 1826. As a compliment to his position he was conferred with a Baronetcy on 17 August 1821 during George IV’s visit to Dublin.