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'Offaly and the Great War' records county's links with defining world conflict

Egis Paulikas

Reporter:

Egis Paulikas

Email:

egis@alphanewspapers.com

A PLEDGE to continue its support to Offaly History Society has been given by the CEO of Offaly County Council, Anna Marie Delaney.

The council chief extolled the work of the Society at the launch of its latest publication, a special research volume on Offaly’s role and connections with the First World War.

Entitled “Offaly and the Great War” the book was launched by Ms Delaney at a packed function in Tullamore Central Library on Sunday afternoon last, the 100th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the conflict.

Lauding the work, Ms Delaney said World War 1 was the first global modernised and industrialised conflict where an array of new weapons were used for the first time.

Describing the book as a “very comprehensive history”, she gave a brief overview of its contents and praised all the contributors and back room team who had given of their services voluntarily to see a dream come to fruition.

Sunday afternoon’s launch featured well known music from the era while a number of contributors also read extracts from the publication. Upstairs a display was put on by Tullamore Phoenix Militaria Club.

But the launch was far from a glorification of war and the hell of the conflict was achingly brought home to the attendance by Pat Heffernan’s haunting rendition of “Silent Night, Christmas 1914”.

Among the large crowd at the event were relatives of soldiers who had fought in the conflict including former Tullamore Tribune Editor, Geoff Oakley whose father Alex served as a Corporal in the South Leinster Horse.

Helen Bracken, President of the Society, revealed they and the Co. Library, with support from the council, had embarked on an ambitious project to provide an Offaly Archives Services at the Axis Business Park in town.

Society Secretary and Editor of the publication, Michael Byrne noted the book’s launch “brings us one step closer to recalling those who fought in the war from this county and those who died and what circumstances pertained during those years.”

”It is difficult to believe that a war that killed perhaps 40,000 Irishmen and upwards of 700 from or connected with this county should have received such little attention over the last 100 years. It is almost as if there was a great forgetfulness,”

Lisa Shorthall, Society Manager and Archivist, said contributors to the book submitted essays that cover every aspect of the war and from almost all corners of the county.

Further coverage of the launch and of the book’s contents will be published in next week’s edition.

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