2014 marks 100 years since the start of the World War 1. A war in which it is estimated that 5000 Sligo people served and in which 500 of them died.
Ireland was a very different place then. When these men and woman sailed from our shores, Ireland was part of the British Empire. Many believed that they were fighting for the plight of small countries and in doing so they were furthering the cause of Home Rule in Ireland. In some cases it was a family tradition. For many others it was a job, an escape from a poor economic outlook and even an adventure….
World War One (WWI or WW1), also known as the First World War, was a global war centred in Europe that began in the summer of 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. More than 9 million people perished in World War 1 where automatic guns, chemical weapons, tanks, air warfare and naval warfare were widely used, many for the first time.
From a green field in Sligo to a muddy flooded trench on the front… Imagine the culture shock these young soldiers must have felt.
It must have been terrifying.
There is no doubt that the Soldiers who returned home from this terrible war were deeply scared both physically and emotionally.
For those returning to Ireland; it was a changed Ireland. An Ireland which had seen the Easter Rising in 1916; an Ireland where the movement for Home Rule had grown momentum; an Ireland where Dail Eireann had been established in January 1919; an Ireland that was fighting another war ….against the country whose uniform they had worn.
So when these soldiers returned home, it wasn’t to a hero’s’ welcome. For the most part, they packed away their uniforms, their medals of honour and never spoke about their war time experiences.
The aim of this project is to commemorate the people of Sligo’s involvement in World War One, to uncover the untold stories, to acknowledge the role they played and to pay tribute to the 550+ people who lost their lives.