Message from Chairman – 2017

Introduction

Acknowledging that military heritage is common to the different political and religious traditions on the island, the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust (CLG), as a voluntary and non-profit organisation, advances an all-Ireland, cross border, non-denominational and non-political approach to military heritage and the story of the Irish Soldier.

Since its establishment in 1999, the Trust’s membership is drawn from the different traditions in Ireland, and a variety of backgrounds including business, public service, military service, academia, archivists, historians, students, researchers and the general public.

During 2015, President Michael D. Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann, has honoured the Trust by becoming its Patron.

As Chairman, I wish to extend a sincere welcome to our new Members who joined since the 2016 Annual General Meeting. Extending our membership base to include Veterans’ Associations and Museums, I also welcome those Associations and Museums whose representatives were elected as members of the Trust. Membership enhances the influence of the Trust, provides the unique opportunity to be part of the network of people who care about the preservation of Ireland’s military heritage for future generations, and funds the Trust’s activities including research.

I would like to take this opportunity of conveying my personnel appreciation to all Directors, members and webmaster for their continuous commitment to the Trust.  As you are aware, all members, including its Directors, Company Secretary, Assistant Secretary and Legal Adviser, are volunteers.

In the same vein, I would like to acknowledge the support the Trust receives from the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Defence, the National Museum of Ireland and the Defence Forces – Óglaigh na hÉireann.

Governance

As a Company Limited by Guarantee and not having a Share Capital, the Trust implements the provisions of appropriate legislation, including the Companies Acts 1963 to 1999, and the Trust’s Memorandum and Articles of Association. As a voluntary body, the Trust is not engaged in commercial activities.

The Trust’s annual return to the Companies Registration Office was submitted by our Auditors in June 2016. The Directors’ Report and audited Annual Financial Statements for 2016 will be formally presented at the 17th Annual General Meeting on the 23 May 2017. The report and financial statements will be made available to the Revenue Commissioners on request. In order to comply with best practice as a Charitable Trust, our Annual Financial Statements for 2016 will be posted on the Web Site in June 2017.

Arising from the Companies Act 2014, the Trust’s suffix changed to “Company Limited by Guarantee” (CLG) on 30 November 2016. The Trust’s website, letterheads, stationery and signage are being changed to reflect the new title.   The necessary documents were presented to the Trust’s designated bank, reflecting the change in the Trust’s title.

The Trust’s Articles of Association and Memorandum of Association did not require amendments on foot of the Companies Act 2014.  The Trust is in full compliance with the Charities Act, 2009. The Trust’s Charity Registration Number is 20041908, and CHY Number is 13447.

The Trust’s Annual Internal Data Protection Audit for the period ended 31 December 2015 will be noted by the Directors during its May 2017 meeting.

Activities

Since the 2016 Annual General Meeting, the activities of the Trust included: Directors’ Meetings; liaising with museums, veterans associations and regimental associations, and participating in ceremonies, lectures and seminars.

The Trust had an active involvement in the National Day of Commemoration in July 2016, and hosted a lunch in the Master’s Quarters of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, for Northern Ireland attendees, which is funded by the Department of An Taoiseach. Reinforcing the cross-border nature of the Trust’s activities, attendees included representatives of the Royal Irish Regiment, Combined Disbanded Irish Regiments Association, the Somme Heritage Centre, the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum, the Royal Inniskillen Fusiliers Museum, and the RUC Federation.

The Trust was represented at events such as: activities associated with the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and Easter 1916, Unveiling of Victoria Cross Commemorative Plaques, All-island Commemorative Dinner hosted by 38 (Irish) Brigade, Admiral Lucas Annual Lecture, Dedication of France – Ireland Memorial, Wreath Laying Service at National War Memorial Gardens, Armistice Day Ceremonies, Ecumenical Service of Remembrance at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Defence Forces Academic Conference.

All registered members of the Trust and their respective spouses were included in the application for invitations from An Taoiseach to the National Day of Commemoration Ceremony, which is taking place in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, on 09 July, 2017.

Military Heritage Annual Award

The Trust will give an Award, ordinarily annually, of €500 to the undergraduate student whose paper is deemed outstanding by a panel of judges, and which, through new research, adds to our knowledge of Ireland’s military heritage. The title of the award is “The Military Heritage Annual Award”.

During its February 2017 meeting, the Trust’s Board of Directors announced the 2016 winner of the Military Heritage Annual Award in memory of Major Charlie Trainor MM. The Board selected Mr Anthony Farrell’s paper titled “A Brief Outline of the Development of British Military Pensions in Ireland, 1914 – 1922”.

Mr Farrell is a graduate of National Museum of Ireland – Maynooth. From Dublin, he is completing a PhD programme in History. Mr Farrell’s paper can be accessed on the Trust’s Website. The Chairman will present the 2016 award to Mr Farrell during the Annual General Meeting on 23 May.

The Directors formally acknowledged the involvement of Dr Pádraic Lenihan NUI Galway for overseeing the notification and submission process, and the three Judges – Dr Dr Marie Coleman – Queens University Belfast, Doctor Ian Speller – NUI Maynooth, and Professor Eunan O’Halpin – Trinity College.

The Directors have also endorsed the Terms of Reference for the 2017 Award. Entries for the 2017 Award should be submitted by 30 September 2017.

Web Site

By means of the Web Site and News Bulletins, the Trust endeavours to enhance public knowledge of its vision, mission, objectives, activities, current projects, military heritage and upcoming events. The Trust’s Web Site is professionally managed by its Webmaster Sergeant Michael Burke, Defence Forces CIS Corps.

The Web Site provides guidance for the research of military heritage. The Web Site also advises on how to access information regarding military service. Finally, the site facilitates links with Web Sites associated with Ireland’s military heritage.

Due to an aggressive malware virus which adversely attacked the Web Site, its operationality was undermined on numerous occasions throughout 2016. Eventually, the virus was eradicated.

During 2016, 49 News Items were posted on the Web Site and details of 76 events were inserted on the Web Site Calendar. Already in 2017, 4 News Items were posted on the Web Site and 60 events have posted on the associated Calendar.

All items posted on the Web Site, such as News Items and Events, are captured on Facebook and the Trust’s Twitter account. Concurrently, they are circulated to our Facebook and Twitter Followers. The Twitter tag is @militaryheritag

By means of Flickr, the Web Site’s Media Gallery facilitates the posting of a limitless number of photographs on the site. The account now has 80 Albums, an increase of 26 since the 2016 AGM. Recent postings include: Private Hughes VC, Irish Regiments 1918, Ypres to Kylemore Abbey, First World War Recruiting Posters, Unveiling Ceremony Belturbet, and a Gun Salute at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Redesigned Web Site – February 2017

The previous design of the Web Site was completed in 2014. During the period November 2016 and February 2017, in conjunction with the Webmaster, the Chairman advanced a new format for the Web Site, based on contemporary software and current best practice.

Availing of Fluida and WordPress, the website has been completely redesigned replacing the previous design on Sunday 19 February, 2017. All material was successfully transferred to the newly designed site.

Located on the same server, kindly provided free of charge by Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart McNamara, the Web Site has a completely different design, providing easier navigation and a more efficient calendar.

Although having the menu, sliding images social media links and a footer, the Home Page is somewhat different than the previous site, in that the format only allows one panel rather than three panels. The content of the central panel on the Home Page provides for a Welcome Message, links to About Us, Membership and Research, and News. It is now possible to associate a photograph with each news item. Subsequent pages contain three panels.

The Directors invite observations and recommendations on its 2017 redesigned Web Site which can be accessed at: www.militaryheritage.ie

Military Service Information

Through its Web Site and Contact Information, the Trust actively assists families, researchers and students throughout Ireland and worldwide world, to access information on the military service of relatives, friends and individuals.

Whereas the Web Site was non-operational for a period during 2016, military heritage queries received covered a vast range of issues such as Free State Army, service in Mullingar Barracks, Battle of the Somme and the Franco Prussian War.

During the period 01 January through 05 April 2017, 614 individuals in 912 sessions accessed the Trust’s Web Site. These included 361 from Ireland, 207 from Russia, 150 from the USA, 48 from the UK, 37 from Canada and 32 from France. 31% were new visitors, the remaining are returning visitors.

News Bulletins

In order to retain an appropriate interface with the Trust’s membership and like-minded individuals, the publication of items on the Web Site is communicated by means of a News Bulletin. During 2016, seven Bulletins were promulgated: 30 January, 07 April, 03 May,25 July, 19 September, 20 November and 18 December.

News Bulletin 1/2017 was issued on 08 February and contained four Articles and the Events Calendar for 2017. 149 individuals received this particular Bulletin.

Expenditure Concepts for Advancing Trust’s Objectives.

Currently, the Board of Directors is addressing two concepts in order to further for advance the Trust’s objectives:

Research Bursary. This concept envisages the Trust awarding a bursary to an individual(s) conducting new and innovative research into an aspect of Irish military heritage and the Story of the Irish Soldier.

Following its February meeting, the Directors authorised further research leading to the elaboration of specific Terms of Reference for the Research Bursary, with 2018 as the timeframe to launch a pilot scheme, for due consideration at the next Board meeting.

Media. This concept envisages a package of professionally produced corporate videos, introducing the Trust, its website and its range of actives, including research. This marketing and information tool will be used as a valuable communications asset and posted on electronic media such as websites and You Tube.

At its February meeting the Directors convened a Working Group, to advance the process, including the selection of an appropriate company for the production of the video package, based on the required specifications and quotations.

Decade of Centenaries

Since its inception in 2012, the Decade of Centenaries programme has sought to be measured and reflective in commemorating significant events that shaped the history of the island of Ireland during this decade one hundred years ago.

In the context of the Decade of Centenaries, the Trust retains liaison with the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, the Government’s Expert Advisory Group, the Glasnevin Trust, the Defence Forces and other appropriate Government Departments, agencies and organisations. The Trust remains proactive in supporting and participating in appropriate activities associated with the Decade of Centenaries.During 2016, these included:

  • A series of formal State ceremonial events remembering and honouring those who took part in the 1916 Rising
  • A State Ceremony in Grangegorman Military Cemetery to mark the deaths of British soldiers during the Easter Rising of 1916,
  • A wreath laying ceremony took place on Alexendra Docks, Belfast, honouring 10,000 Irish personnel who served in the Royal Navy and Mercantile Navy during the First World War.
  • A military ceremony, at 0720hrs on Saturday 1 July at the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, Islandbridge, honouring the first shots of the Battle of the Somme and the Irish Regiments who fought in the First World War.
  • The State’s Commemoration of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, on 9 July, in the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, in conjunction with the Royal British Legion
  • Under the auspices of the Glasnevin Trust, Armistice Day Commemorations were conducted in Glasnevin Cemetery Dublin, on 11 November.
  • The Irish and French Governments in association with the Gasnevin Trust, hosted a dedication ceremony of the France – Ireland Memorial, in Glasnevin Cemetery, on 13 November, 2016
  • On 13 November, throughout Ireland, Remembrance Ceremonies were held commemorating those who died in the First World War
  • A private ceremony for the family of Private James Duffy VC on 26 November 2016, hosted by Donegal County Museum, in Association with the Royal Inniskillings Fusiliers Museum.

Room of Reflection

In view of parallel commemorative and reflective activities taking place in 2016, the Board of Directors deferred until 2017 a decision regarding the feasibility of establishing a Room of Reflection, reflecting Ireland’s shared military heritage, in a suitable location, subject to appropriate permission and the availability of finances to support the project.

With this in mind, as a stakeholder in the Soldiers’ and Chiefs’ Exhibition, the Chairman has requested a meeting with the consultants (Jura Consultants UK), currently developing a strategic master plan for the National Museums of Ireland.

Irish Infantry Grove

Dedicated in 2000, the Irish Infantry Grove at the National Memorial Arboretum in England, honours and commemorates soldiers who served in Irish Infantry Regiments which were disbanded in 1922.  Personnel of these Regiments served and some made the ultimate sacrifice in foreign lands such as Belgium, Burma, Canada, France, Gallipoli, India, Macedonia, Malta, Middle East, and South Africa.

Availing of the interface with the Department of An Taoiseach, the Trust continues to advance the redevelopment of the Grove within its competencies.

The intent of the Royal Irish Regiment is to ensure a output that properly commemorates the Irish Infantry Regiments, and all Irish soldiers who have served in those units. No other memorial, fulfilling this objective, is in existence in the UK. Prior to the laying of the foundations, the flags of Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught were formally placed in appropriate caskets under the concrete.   Redevelopment work has been put on hold until Q2 2017.

Visitors’ Centre, Ulster Memorial Tower

Marking their well deserved retirement after 15 years of commendable service as Keepers of the Ulster Memorial Tower, Major-General Kieran Brennan, Deputy Chief of Staff made a presentation to Mr and Mrs Terry Colligan in the Defence Forces Headquarters Officers’ Mess on 07 January, 2017. The function was co-hosted by the Defence Forces, the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust and the Cavalry Club.

Working on behalf of the Somme Association and with renowned hospitality, Mr and Mrs Colligan successfully managed the Visitors’ Centre and provided the celebrated welcome for all visitors to the associated memorial room and cafe.

Located at Thiepval, the Ulster Memorial Tower was the first official memorial to be erected on the Western Front, honouring the officers and enlisted personnel of the 36th (Ulster) Division.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Trust’s Directors are currently focussing on activities associated with the Decade of Centenaries, enhancing partnerships with stakeholders such as Museums and Regimental Associations, increasing student’s involvement in the Military Heritage Annual Award, consolidating membership, and through its Web Site, promulgate the latest news and lists of events, and further develop the support provided for research.

I look forward to working with all Directors, our Company Secretary, Legal Adviser and Auditors, in further advancing the Trust’s objectives, in order to promote and preserve Ireland’s unique military heritage for future generations.

Finally, I will welcome the opportunity of engaging with members of the Trust during the 17th Annual General Meeting, scheduled for 23 May, at 1430 hours, in the Lecture Theatre, National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks Dublin. Ms Shabnam Visisht, Historian and Author has kindly accepted an invitation to be our Guest Speaker, on the subject of “Digging Up The Raj

 

Pól A. Pakenham

Brigadier-General Paul A. Pakenham (Retd)

Chairman

April 2017