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Ireland’s war contribution recognised at home and abroad
Column of lorries with the men of the 16th (Irish) Division at the Battle of Guillemont. Photo: Imperial War Museum

Ireland’s war contribution recognised at home and abroad

‘They were like lions; nothing could stop them’

Dublin, 22 September 1916 - At a ceremony at the Mansion House, with the Lord Mayor of Dublin in attendance, General Sir John Maxwell presented certificates of Honour to the relatives of those on active service from the Fitzwilliam ward. In all, 655 certificates were awarded.

Addressing the gathering, General Maxwell declared the certificates to be an honour both to the recipients personally and to the country as a whole; he said that they should be cherished and handed down as ‘momentoes of what Irishmen had done in the war’.

Maxwell, in thanking the mothers and relatives of serving soldiers, remarked that the war was not drawing to a close and that it was not yet time to relax the military effort.

In asking for a vote of thanks for General Maxwell, the Earl of Meath paid tribute to his work in Ireland, saying that it had been carried out justly and fearlessly and in a manner that left the majority of Irishmen owing him a debt of gratitude.

Evidence of the recruitment effort in Ireland. Left: a mobile recruiting office in Dublin. Right: one of the many recruitment posters calling on Irishmen to enlish. (Images: Irish Life, Library of Congress)

Reports from the front
This presentation in Dublin coincides with Press Association reports on eyewitness accounts of the heroism of Irish troops at Guillemont and Ginchy earlier this month.

At Guillemont, it has been reported that the Irish distinguished themselves with their ‘magnificent fighting’. Emerging from their trench to the ‘skirl of the bagpipes’, they broke through the Germans defensive lines in a single push and secured the trenches in front of the village. In places, they even surpassed the objective that had been set for them, fearlessly engaging in hand-to-hand combat when seizing disputed ground.  'You should have seen the men’, one officer remarked. ‘They were like lions; nothing could stop them.'

Despite encountering fierce resistance, the Irish troops forced the Germans into a retreat and even managed to take 600 of them as prisoners.  Furthermore, the village of Guillemont was organised and secured to prevent a German counter-attack.

A Derry mother and her five sons. Of the five soldier sons of Mrs McGahey, of Derry, one has been killed, two wounded, and two are still fighting in France. On left of picture is Sergt. McGahey, J. P., and member of the Derry Corporation. He was specially commended for his work during the rebellion in Dublin. Pte. J. McGahey, second from end on right, who was killed was one of Derry's cleverest footballers. (Image: Irish Life, 22 Sept. 1916. Full collection available in National Library of Ireland)

Ireland’s financial contribution
However, it is not only on the field of battle that Ireland has been contributing to the war effort. Figures contained in a White Paper on Imperial income and expenditure which was published last week reveal the scale of the contribution Ireland continues to make to Imperial finances. The figures, released by the Treasury in response to a request from John O’Connor MP, show that Ireland’s total revenue from taxes amounted to £16,465,000 for the year ending 31 March 1916, while the total expenditure on Irish services by the Exchequer amounted to £12,597,000.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.