A nationwide search for men and women who served in World War II is being launched so that they can be remembered officially.
A Kilkenny-based group who want to honour the war dead and survivors is appealing for family members, distant relations, friends and acquaintances to come forward.
The Kilkenny Great War Memorial Committee are planning to unveil a memorial to the men and women who were born in the city and county. The committee have received 54 names of those who died and 106 survivor names of the war. It is estimated that there are at least 100 dead and 1,000 veterans/survivors from Kilkenny.
Donal Croghan from the Committee explained that the reason they are appealing to the public nationwide to make contact is due to the response locally not reaching enough people.
”We have been running an appeal in the past few months but we need to get to a wider audience on a nationwide and international level who have Kilkenny connections.
The ages of the names they have received range from 17 to 61. They served in various allied forces including the Australian Infantry, the Palestine Police Force, US Army, Canadian Air Force, British RAF, Royal Navy and Durham Light Infantry. They have received the name of just two woman so far who died during the war.
It is estimated that between 4,468 to 9,100 died from Ireland during the war. An estimated figure of 12,000 Irish veterans returned to Ireland after it ended in 1945.
Mr Croghan added: “(Then Taoiseach) Eamonn de Valera followed a policy of neutrality in Ireland’s attempts to be seen as an independent State in the eyes of the world during the war.
“While the information on the exact number of people from Ireland died in World War 2 some say 4,468 others 9,100. Bernard Kelly who wrote, Returning Home: Irish Ex-Servicemen after the Second World War, estimates 12,000 Irish veterans returned to Ireland at the end of the war.
“They were treated very poorly after fighting Hitler Armies and they were scorned and treated with hostility, seen by many as anti-national and almost traitorous.”
Returning to Ireland after the war, many were treated poorly, and were seen as anti-national because of their service. These men and women had left the safety of neutral Ireland and risked death or injury. They played their part in defeating Hitler.
Mr Croghan continued: “In Kilkenny in 2020 a new memorial to the dead from Kilkenny city and county will be unveiled at McDonagh Railway Station. The Kilkenny Great War Memorial Committee successfully unveiled two memorials to all those who served in World War I.
“Now is the time to do this as our generation pass away, names and stories connected to World War II will be gone. Please help and spread the word of the appeal and together we will remember them. “
- Members of the public are asked to make contact by phoning 086-3369080, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to 48 John Street, Kilkenny.