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Insight into lives of Royal Dublin Fusiliers

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  • Insight into lives of Royal Dublin Fusiliers

    Insight into lives of Royal Dublin Fusiliers

    Words from the front: exhibition features letters written home by Irish first World War soldiers

    LETTERS FROM soldiers fighting in the first World War go on display in the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma) today.

    The exhibition, A Long, Long Way – Letters from the Great War 1914-1918 , is timed to coincide with the National Day of Commemoration which will be celebrated in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, next Sunday.

    Drawing on letters sent to Ireland from soldiers during the first World War, the exhibition samples the archives of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association, an organisation which promotes awareness of those who served and died with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Regiment in the British army.

    A number of letters penned by those who served at the front, along with photographs of soldiers sheltering in trenches, and images of medals and commemorative scrolls, are on view.

    Mainly written to Monica Roberts, founder of the Band of Helpers to Soldiers, a voluntary group which provided Irish soldiers with basic comforts such as handkerchiefs, bootlaces and cigarettes, the letters detail the soldiers’ experience of the war.

    One extract reads, “We had a good fight with [the German military] . . . and I bet you they won’t forget it for a long time to come”.

    However, most of the correspondence is dominated by talk of matters at home as opposed to military activity.

    One author states that he is “getting along splendid. As I write this, the Germans are bombarding our trenches so I am not in a very comfortable position, but no matter.”

    Imma operations manager Gale Scanlan felt the Royal Hospital Kilmainham is an ideal location for the exhibition because of the building’s military history.

    She also spoke of a renewed interest in the first World War: “People are now exploring their heritage.”

    Yellowstone Communication Design is sponsoring the exhibition in dedication to Lieut Col Richard Joseph Fogarty, the father of the director of the company, and is working in partnership with Dublin City Libraries and Archives.

    A Long, Long Way – Letters from the Great War 1914-1918 is expected to run in the Irish Museum of Modern Art at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, until Sunday, September 6th.

    Writing home: extracts from soldiers' letters on display

    “I don’t think I can write you any more only thank you from the bottom of my heart for cheering me up, a boy who is doing his best for Old Ireland and home.”

    “I was more than surprised to hear of the rebellion in Ireland. I think they all must have been mad . . . I’m sure they knew quite well that they had no chance whatsoever against the military.”

    “Dear miss, just a line to thank you for your kind presents you sent to soldiers in 2RDFUS. I had great pleasure in smoking your cigarettes and tobacco and thanks very much. Dear miss, I am from 16 Engine Alley off Thomas St, Dublin.”

    “Won’t it be a great day when we all get home again and get settled down again.

    “I happened to be taking a walk the other day and I chanced to come across a grave of a very great friend of mine. He got killed about 18 months ago, poor fellow, so I done my best to make his grave look up to the mark by putting some flowers around it.

    “I really thought I should never come across it as he was buried in no man’s land then but I’m glad to say it is a long way behind our lines now so it will be well cared for.

    “I am only wishing for my turn to come when I can see Dear Old Dublin once more. And then I did not care if I was shot the minute I came back.”

    Photo: Panels from A Long Long Way exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. One of the letters included reads: "As I write this, the Germans are bombarding our trenches . . ."
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead