Bursery – Updating Irish War Memorial Records

The Irish War Memorial Records, which list the names of 49,400 men who died in the First World War, are to be updated.

bursery

In a joint operation, the Irish Government with Google and the In Flanders Fields museum in Ypres are revisiting the records, which were first created in 1922, with the intention of providing a more accurate picture of the number of Irishmen who died in the First World War.

Field-Marshall Sir John French, 1st Earl of Ypres, and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1919 to 1922, ordered the compilation of the Memorial Records, which were published in 1923.

A copy of the eight-volume, leather-bound work, illustrated by Harry Clarke, is housed at the in Flanders Fields museum in Ypres, the medieval town which found itself at the centre of the Western Front during the First World War.

Currently, the Memorial Records lists all those who died, but they include non-Irish soldiers who died in Irish Regiments and exclude many Irishmen who died in non-Irish Regiments.

In 2013, a digitised version of the Records was released.

A bursary scheme to allow Irish university students to research Ireland’s involvement in the First World War was announced on 28 October by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, in Ypres, as representatives of more than 80 countries gathered commemorate the start of the first Battle of Ypres. The Minister attended an evening service at the Menin Gate, where the King of the Belgians laid a wreath.

The bursery, which will be conducted over the period 2015 through 2018, will allow five Irish university students to spend the summer months at the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres. Students will be tasked with expanding the digital archive begun by Google and the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2014.

Irish Ambassador to Belgium, H.E. Éamonn MacAodha said the concept behind the bursary scheme was to encourage Irish students to spend time expanding and correcting the archive. “In proposing the scheme the aim was to bring the history of the First World War closer to Ireland,” he said.

The Director of the In Flanders Fields Museum, Mr Piet Chielens, said that “At the time these books were made, they did not have all the information. These were very difficult times for Ireland. Sir John French ordered that all Irish regiments be included, and all British regiments which are likely to have a lot of Irish-born soldiers in their ranks. They never looked into the Navy, the Artillery, where there were a lot of Irish. We are now also discovering that Canadian and Australian battalions would have had a lot of Irish.