Letter: Irish in Great War

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The Independent Online
Sir: Geraldine Burke (letter, 11 November) reports finding the monument at Ypres to the Irish who died in 1914-18. I remember many gravestones in Galway marked with the honours "Connaught Rangers and Old IRA". The paradox rests in the mass of "southern" Irishmen who fought in the Great War for, as their parliamentary leadership told them, "the rights of small nations" like Belgium and by implication Ireland.

Put this with the facts that there were more "southern" than "northern" battalions in the battle of the Somme, that Unionist shibboleth, and that in the Second World war there were more recruits from the Irish Free State than from Northern Ireland, and you may recognise why I do not wear a poppy.

Great numbers of Irish fought, in passing, for this country in 1914-18 but essentially for a freedom which was then denied them when they returned.

M A MARTIN

London SW19

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