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The Irish on the Somme Being a Second Series of 'The Irish at the Front'   By: (1862-1946)

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Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation in the original document has been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. For a complete list, please see the end of this document.

THE IRISH ON THE SOMME

THE IRISH ON THE SOMME

BEING THE SECOND SERIES OF "THE IRISH AT THE FRONT"

By MICHAEL MACDONAGH Author of "Irish Life and Character"

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JOHN REDMOND, M.P.

HODDER AND STOUGHTON LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO MCMXVII

TO

THE MEMORY OF

MAJOR WILLIAM REDMOND, M.P.

ROYAL IRISH REGIMENT (IRISH BRIGADE)

WHO DIED OF WOUNDS RECEIVED IN ACTION

JUNE 7, 1917

LEADING HIS MEN IN THE ATTACK

ON WYTSCHAETE WOOD

INTRODUCTION

BY JOHN REDMOND, M.P.

THE RESPONSE OF THE IRISH RACE

This war is a war of liberation, and its battle cry is the rights and liberties of humanity. From the very beginning of the conflict my colleagues of the Irish Party, and I myself, have availed of every opportunity in Parliament, on the platform, and in the Press, to present this view of it to the Irish race at home and abroad; and despite the tragic mistakes made in regard to Ireland by the successive Governments which have held office since war broke out, we are still unshaken in our opinion that Ireland's highest interests lie in the speedy and overwhelming victory of England and the Allies.

The response of the Irish race the world over to our appeal to rise in defence of civilisation and freedom has been really wonderful. The example was set by Ireland herself.

At the outbreak of the war I asked the Irish people, and especially the young men of Ireland, to mark the profound change which has been brought about in the relations of Ireland to the Empire by wholeheartedly supporting the Allies in the field. I pointed out that at long last, after centuries of misunderstanding, the democracy of Great Britain had finally and irrevocably decided to trust Ireland with self government; and I called upon Ireland to prove that this concession of liberty would have the same effect in our country as it has had in every other portion of the Empire, and that henceforth Ireland would be a strength instead of a weakness. I further pointed out that the war was provoked by the intolerable military despotism of Germany, that it was a war in defence of small nationalities, and that Ireland would be false to her own history and traditions, as well as to honour, good faith and self interest, if she did not respond to my appeal.

The answer to that appeal is one of the most astonishing facts in history. At the moment, fraught with the most terrible consequences to the whole Empire, this Kingdom found for the first time in the history of the relations between Great Britain and Ireland that the Irish Nationalist members, representing the overwhelming mass of the people of Ireland, were enabled to declare themselves upon the side of England. They did that with their eyes open. They knew the difficulties in the way. They knew none so well the distrust and suspicion of British good faith which had been, in the past, universal almost in Ireland. They recognised that the boon of self government had not been finally granted to their country. They knew the traditional hostility which existed in many parts of Ireland to recruiting for the British Army. Facing all these things, and all the risks that they entailed, they told Ireland and her sons abroad that it was their duty to rally to the support of the Allies in a war which was in defence of the principles of freedom and civilisation... Continue reading book >>




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