Some readers have even checked the paper’s masthead to make sure we haven’t picked up the ‘London Times’ by mistake. As far as nationalists and republicans are concerned most of these men were economic conscripts forced to join up after centuries of colonial exploitation left few job opportunities in their own country.
The Act of Union in 1801 taxed much Irish economic activity out of existence.
Bob Marley saw the same thing in African American soldiers of the US army who were recruited to fight and wipe out the native Americans. Buffalo soldiers they were called.
There is no denying the courage of those Irishmen who fought in the English Army down through the centuries. The first ever Victoria Cross was awarded to an Irishman in 1854 as was the first Victoria Cross of WW1.
But surely those who fought at home for Ireland deserve as much if not more attention.
As Diarmuid Ó Tuama told the crowd at this year’s Kilmichael Comóradh, most volunteers had no formal military training and only 20 rounds of ammunition per man.