By Aoife Moore
A First World War pilot has been honoured with a memorial in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery.
Paul Kehoe, the minister of state with responsibility for defence, and British ambassador Robin Barnett attended the ceremony yesterday to honour Major Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock, recipient of the Victoria Cross.
Mannock was a member of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Air Force during the First World War.
Born on May 24, 1887, the proud Corkman was a pioneer of fighter aircraft tactics in aerial warfare.
Mannock was the most highly decorated fighter pilot of the First World War and was eventually credited with 73 combat victories.
He died on July 26, 1918, when his aircraft was shot down over France.
John Green, chairman of Glasnevin Trust, said that Mr Mannock’s story was an accurate insight into life before Irish independence.
“If you want to get an insight into the complexity of our history, even a shallow dive into the life and times of ‘Mick’ Mannock will open your eyes,” said Mr Green.
“The son of a bigamist, deserter, and raised by his abandoned mother from Ballincollig, he fended for himself from an early age.
Adding that Mannock’s birthday, birth place, and how he died all remain disputed, Mr Green said: “Mick Mannock poses more questions than he answers.”
During his speech, Mr Kehoe said: “As a member of Government, it is my great privilege to partake in events that provide an opportunity to look back on the journey we have taken with a focus on our joint history.
“Events such as today bring to mind the sacrifice, courage, and idealism of our forebears who laid the foundation for the freedoms we enjoy.”
Mr Barnett said that he was honoured to be involved in the commemoration to recognise such an important officer in the Royal Air Force’s history.
“The outstanding gallantry of the proud Irish nationalist Major Edward Corringham ‘Mick’ Mannock, one of the most decorated officers ever to serve in British uniform, reminds us of the contribution made by so many brave men and women from both of our islands during critical and at times complex episodes in our shared history,” said Mr Barnett.
During the ceremony, a historical reflection was read by Corporal Michael Whelan of the Air Corps, wreaths were laid at the Cross of Sacrifice, and a minute’s silence was followed by a pipers’ lament and the sounding of The Last Post and Reveille.