Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and Fine Gael TD for Dublin Central, Paschal Donohoe, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr, and Chairman of the Glasnevin Trust, John Green, led proceedings at this year’s Armistice Day Commemoration at Glasnevin Cemetery this morning.
The event was marked by the laying of wreaths at the Cross of Sacrifice, to remember the thousands of Irish men and women who died fighting in World War One. This was followed by the unveiling of commemorative plaques in honour of four Irish men who received the Victoria Cross for their efforts in World War One.
The commemorative plaques unveiled at the ceremony were in honour of Frederick Edwards VC (Middlesex Regiment), John Vincent Holland VC (Leinster Regiment), Thomas Hughes VC (Connaught Rangers) and Martin O’Meara VC (Australian Imperial Force).*
Reflecting on today’s event Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, said: ‘I am honoured once again to have the opportunity to partake in the Armistice Day Commemoration, during which wreaths are laid in memory of the many Irish men and women who gave their lives during World War One.
“The sacrifices made, and the bravery shown, by them is remembered with pride and admiration. Hearing the stories of those whose plaques are being unveiled also brings real life to proceedings and gives us a sense, and an understanding, of the courageousness and selflessness of those we commemorate here today”.
Commemorative wreaths were laid by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD; John Green, Chairman of the Glasnevin Trust; Brendan Carr, Lord Mayor of Dublin; Mrs. Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE, Lord Lieutenant of Belfast; His Excellency, Robin Barnett, British Ambassador to Ireland; His Excellency, Kevin F. O’Malley, US Ambassador to Ireland’ His Excellency, Kevin M. Vickers, Canadian Ambassador to Ireland; His Excellency, Richard Andrews, Australian Ambassador to Ireland; His Excellency Thomas Nader, Austrian Ambassador to Ireland; His Excellency Philippe Roland, Belgian Ambassador to Ireland; Mr. Alan McCarthy, Honorary Consul General, New Zealand Embassy and Ms Catherine Lawson, CWGC Head of Marketing and Communications, Royal British Legion Representatives.
The event was closed by the sounding of the last post. This was followed by a minutes silence and the Reveille.
When reflecting on the importance of today’s commemoration, Chairman of the Glasnevin Trust, John Green, said: ‘The Cross of Sacrifice under which we laid these commemorative wreaths this morning is a lasting tribute to the Irish men and women who fought in World War 1 and the enormous sacrifices they made, in the case of tens of thousands it was the ultimate sacrifice.
“The laying of wreaths today in honour of Frederick Edwards VC (Middlesex Regiment), John Vincent Holland VC (Leinster Regiment), Thomas Hughes VC (Connaught Rangers) and Martin O’Meara VC (Australian Imperial Force) gives a particular understanding of the breadth of social and geographic backgrounds from which all of these Irish men and women were drawn. I would hope that today’s commemoration will further add to the spirit of inclusiveness and reconciliation, so important to this Decade of Centenaries.”
Note to Editors
Bio’s for the four Victoria Cross recipients *
Edwards was a private in the 12th Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge’s Own), British Army during the First World War, and was awarded the VC for his deeds on 26 September 1916 at Thiepval, France. The acts that were honoured came as he formed part of the line which was held up by machine-gun fire. All the officers in his battalion were killed. There was confusion and indication of retirement. Private Edwards, grasping the situation, and on his own initiative, dashed out towards the gun, which he knocked out with his bombs. This very gallant act, coupled with great presence of mind and disregard of personal danger, made further advance possible and cleared up a dangerous situation. He was later promoted to corporal and after leaving the army he was forced to sell his medal to make ends meet. He died on 9 March 1964 at the Royal Star and Garter Home in Richmond (which was then in Surrey and is now in London) and is buried in Richmond Cemetery.
John Vincent Holland (19 July 1889 – 27 February 1975) born in Athy, Co Kildare.
In 1914 he enlisted in the 2nd Life Guards. In March 1915 he was attached to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and sent to France. He was then wounded in August and returned to England and Ireland to convalesce, but soon returned to the battlefield – this time with the 7th Battalion, serving as battalion bombing officer. On 3 September 1916 at Guillemont, France, he performed a deed for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The London Gazette stated that, “During a heavy engagement, Lieutenant Holland, not content with bombing hostile dug-outs, fearlessly led his troops through our own artillery barrage and cleared a great part of the village in front. He started out with 26 troops and finished with only five after capturing some 50 prisoners. By this gallant action he undoubtedly broke the spirit of the enemy and saved many casualties.”
Holland was also promoted to Captain, mentioned in Dispatches and given the Hickie Parchment for his bravery.
Martin O’Meara (6 November 1885 – 20 December 1935), born at Terryglass, Lorrha, Co Tipperary
O’Meara arrived in South Australia in 1912, where he initially worked as a labourer at Wild Horse Plains. He then travelled to Port Augusta where he worked on railway construction projects, and then to the McLaren Vale area south of Adelaide where he was, again, a railway construction worker. In late June 1916 he joined the 16th Battalion’s newly formed Scouting Section in northern France and served as a scout, observer and sniper during his time on the Western Front in Belgium and France. Between 9th and 12th August 1916 at Mouquet Farm, Pozières, during four days of very heavy fighting, Private O’Meara repeatedly went out and brought in wounded officers and men from “no man’s land” under intense artillery and machine-gun fire. He also volunteered and carried up ammunition and bombs through a heavy barrage to a portion of the trenches which was being heavily-shelled at the time. O’Meara was wounded three times during the war: near Mouquet farm in August 1916, near Bullecourt in April 1917 and near Messines in August 1917. He was presented with his Victoria Cross medal by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 21st July 1917. In mid-1918 he was selected to join a group of Australian Victoria Cross recipients to return to Australia to assist with recruiting. He was promoted to Sergeant in late August 1918 and left England on 17 September 1918 on the troopship Arawa, arriving at Fremantle in Western Australia on 6 November 1918.
He was 31 years old, and a private in the 6th Battalion, The Connaught Rangers, British Army during the First World War. On 3 September 1916 at Guillemont, France, Private Hughes was wounded in an attack but returned at once to the firing line after having his wounds dressed. Later, seeing a hostile machine-gun, he dashed out in front of his company, shot the gunner and captured the gun, single-handed. Though again wounded, he brought back three or four prisoners. He later achieved the rank of corporal. He died in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, 8 January 1942, aged 56. He is buried in the cemetery attached to St Patrick’s Roman Catholic church in Broomfield, near Castleblayney, in Co Monaghan.
The Cross of Sacrifice
- Designed for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission after the First World War, by renowned architect Sir Reginald Blomfield, the Cross of Sacrifice represents the faith of the majority and the human sacrifice of all Commonwealth war dead. The Cross of Sacrifice is embedded with a bronze sword and can be found in cemeteries across the globe, wherever Commonwealth servicemen were laid to rest during and after the two world wars.
· The Cross erected in Glasnevin is a freestanding four point Blue Irish limestone Latin Cross, 7 meters tall, mounted on an octagonal base. The stone was quarried in McKeowan’s Quarry, Stradbally, Co. Laois and was erected by craftsmen from the Heritage Project at Glasnevin Trust, under the auspices of the Office of Public Works.
- Glasnevin Trust is the largest provider of funeral services in Ireland. The Trust is run by an executive management team and governed by the Dublin Cemeteries Committee, a voluntary not-for-profit body originally established by Daniel O’Connell in 1828.
· The Trust’s mission today remains as it was handed down from Daniel O’Connell; “to bury people of all religions and none.”
- It operates five cemeteries (Dardistown, Glasnevin, Goldenbridge, Newlands Cross and Palmerstown) and two crematoria (Glasnevin and Newlands Cross).
Glasnevin Cemetery was established in 1832 under the direction of Daniel O’Connell. The cemetery encompasses 124 acres and 1.5 million burials. Glasnevin has major national heritage, through the social and historical history of the people buried there from all walks of life over 178 years.
The multi-award winning Glasnevin Museum, operated by Glasnevin Trust, was opened in April 2010. The self-funded €11 million museum showcases the social, historical, political and artistic development of modern Ireland through the lives of the 1.5 million people buried in Glasnevin Cemetery – Ireland’s national necropolis.
The three storey museum hosts three main feature exhibits and a restaurant:
· The City of the Dead – an immersive exhibition in the basement of the museum. It covers the burial practices and religious beliefs, as well as the meticulous record-keeping, of the 1.5 million people buried in Glasnevin.
- The Milestone Gallery houses a succession of special exhibitions on key historical figures, starting with Glasnevin’s founder Daniel O’Connell. It also houses ‘the Timeline’ – a 10 metre long digitally interactive table containing details of the lives and relationships of hundreds of the most famous people buried there.
· The glazed Prospect Gallery offers periodic historical exhibitions over a panoramic view of the cemetery, along with information on its marvellous array of funerary monuments and historic graves.
- A 70 seat restaurant