THE man on the radio said Niall Tóibín could be regarded as Ireland’s Billy Connolly, which established that the man giving the tribute was probably less than half Tóibín’s 90 years and, as a result,recalled the performer mainly from appearances on The Late Late Show, where he did the equivalent of stand-up before stand-up was cool.
Three Irish brothers who died fighting for the Canadians in World War Two are to be commemorated in a special ceremony in Belgium today and plans are being drawn up to build a monument to them in their birthplace in Co Cork.
A book lent to me before the 80th anniversary of the start of WWII on September 1 was Dark Times, Decent Men: Stories of Irishmen in World War II. They from the North and South of Ireland and were in the British army, navy and the RAF and armies and merchant navies of the USA, Canada, Australia etc.
For the generations born in Ireland since the end of the Second World War it is understandably difficult for some of them to envisage the state of public opinion on the issue of Irish neutrality during WWII.
Teachers will, in time, have to explain to students why life was once so very different in Ireland on Good Friday. Those teachers, unless we risk Brexit-scale disruption and division, will also tell their pupils why the three Sheehan brothers, from Fermoy in Co. Cork, died fighting with Canadian troops in WWII and, hopefully, explain the structures we put in place after the war to try to ensure that we never have WWIII.
Societies’ and individuals’ memories are shaped by a combination of emotions and experiences. Character and perception are influential too. Love, especially deep love between individuals, may be the most powerful, the most enduring of those factors.
Corkwoman Mary Elmes was awarded Israel’s highest honour for saving countless Jewish children from deportation to Nazi concentration camps during WWII. Less well known is her work helping to feed over 80,000 French schoolchildren who faced near-famine conditions. In an area of southwest France the size of Munster, all of the children knew her name...