Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, has said that Ireland’s history of conflict meant many Catholics killed in the First World War were not adequately remembered.
The Archbishop made his comments at a special Mass in Inishowen, County Donegal for his great-uncle, Edward Doherty, who was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele. The Mass also remembered the estimated 250 people from the area who were killed during World War I.
Following the Mass at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Muff, Archbishop Eamon unveiled a plaque in memory of all those who died during the war at the nearby St Patrick’s Church, Iskaheen.
The Archbishop’s Grand Uncle, Edward Doherty, was killed on 19th September 1917 during the Battle of Passchendaele. He is buried in Canada Farm Cemetery outside Ypres, Belgium.
Speaking at the Mass, Archbishop Eamon said that the fact that Irish Catholics and Protestants fought together in the first World War had been neglected “perhaps conveniently – by all sides. “People preferred to cling on to a history of difference and separation, rather than recognise and embrace our shared story of common suffering.”
Archbishop Eamon went on to describe a visit he made in 2016 to his Grand Uncle’s grave in Ypres and then visiting the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Messines, Belgium. The visit was part of a special centenary pilgrimage to sites significant to the Battle of the Somme and WWI. Archbishop Eamon said, “Standing at war memorials, wearing poppies and laying wreaths may not have been part of my tradition or growing up, but remembering, honouring and praying for the dead is important to the practice of my faith”. He added, “In recent years I have grown to respect and understand more fully that, whilst we may remember in different ways, what unites us is so much greater and stronger than anything that is talked up to divide us.”