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Memorial for Irish war heroes erected in South Korea

The monument honours “all those of Irish birth and heritage who fought and died in the service of the United Nations and those civilians of Irish birth and heritage who died side by side with the Korean people 1950-1953″.

Image: Conor O'Reilly

A MEMORIAL FOR the 159 Irish people who died during the Korean war was unveiled in Seoul today.

The Irish Association of Korea, with the Embassy of Ireland, the Somme Association and the Royal Ulster Rifles Association, organised a remembrance service to honour those who fought between 1950 and 1953.

But it was not just soldiers who perished during the conflict. Seven members of the Columban order and Anglican nun, Sister Mary Clare Witty, also died during the atrocities, according to IKA chairman Conor O’Reilly.

A dozen Irish veterans, many of whom fought with the British forces, were invited to today’s ceremony as part of the official April Revisit Korea programme. The former soldiers were mainly from the Royal Ulster Rifles and other British regiments. There was also a veteran from the US 8th Cavalry in attendance, as well as family members and two people were present on behalf of soldiers killed in action.

The memorial reads:

Men from all over Britain and Ireland, from every community, fought with the Royal Ulster Rifles in Korea. The regiment sacrificed many to the Korean War with the most significant losses suffered at the Battle of ‘Happy Valley’ in defence of Seoul, capital of South Korea, on the night of 3-4 January 1951. The VIII Kings Royal Irish Hussars and the Royal Artillery in support of the RUR also sustained casualties.
This monument recalls the original Memorial Pillar in Happy Valley which was carved by a Korean mason during the succeeding battles before being erected on 3 July 1951 overlooking the battlefield. The original memorial was moved in 1962 to Northern Ireland and now stands in the grounds of the City Hall in Belfast.

Images: Conor O’Neill/IKA

More: BBC to air North Korea documentary despite criticisms from university

Read: North Korea demands recognition of ‘nuclear state’ status before US talks

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