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Readers Blog: Myers alone highlighted role of Irish in May-June ‘40

In 2010, a journalist wrote: “If I don’t write about Irish involvement in one of the most seismic events in the 20th century — the continental defeats of France and Britain in May-June, 1940 — who, pray, will?”

The journalist was Kevin Myers, and his article, and views, were published in an Irish daily newspaper.

In Myers’ view, there has been no reflection in the Irish media on the calamities of 1940. He looked at the records of Irish citizens, who fought with the British, then in conflict with a greater enemy.

The defeat of Britain, which was a real possibility, would almost certainly have meant re occupation here, this time by a new, and more ruthless force, as was to prove in much of Europe.

Myers found that a considerable number of Irish people, some of whose names he published, paid with their lives.

The largest single Irish loss of life in 1940 came, with the sinking of the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious, and her two escorts, in the flight from Norway. Sixty-five Irishmen died in the complement of 1,200.

There were many other losses. Amongst the 65 was 19-year-old Corkman, Patrick Pearse Murphy.

The name “Pearse” was almost certainly inserted by him.

Whatever their individual motivations, we owe it to him, and his colleagues, as well as to those in the 1916-1921 conflict, whose experiences will have been no less traumatic.

We owe it also to Kevin Myers, who, with the then newly-elected President, Michael D Higgins, was among the first to give credit to such brave people.

Donal O’Driscoll


Co Dublin

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