THE TÁNAISTE EAMON Gilmore says that the digitisation of the records of 49,000 Irish men and women who died in World War I is “making up for lost time”.
The project, undertaken by Google, the In Flanders Fields Museum, Eneclann and the Department of Foreign Affairs sees an attempt made for the first time to make the details of the Irish who died in The Great War available to the public.
The co-ordinator of the project, Piet Chielens from the In Flanders Museum said that Belgium had the histories of 600,000 dead still to be committed to record and the project would “go on forever”.
He said that the system would make it easier for people whose family members had fought and died in WWI to find out where they are commemorated.
“Commemoration is about sharing human experiences and fates, and reflecting on them. This online commemoration allows people from all over the world to connect with a shared past.”
The Tánaiste said that the project would help to bring Ireland and Britain closer.
“Thomas Kettle, the former Nationalist MP for East Tyrone who served as a Lieutenant in the 9th Royal Dublin Fusiliers and was killed at the Somme believed that:
This tragedy of Europe may be and must be the prologue to the two reconciliations of which all statesmen have dreamed, the reconciliation of Protestant Ulster with Ireland, and the reconciliation of Ireland with Great Britain.
“That it has taken so long to progress those reconciliations is a further tragedy – one that Tom Kettle could not have foreseen. We are making up for lost time. And we have come a long, long way in a comparatively short time.”