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Southern Ireland and the Liberation of France

New Perspectives

Series:

Gerald Morgan and Gavin Hughes

This collection of essays sets out to correct an injustice to citizens of the Irish Free State, or Twenty-Six Counties, whose contribution to the victory against Nazi Germany in the Second World War has thus far been obscured. The historical facts reveal a divided island of Ireland, in which the volunteers from the South were obliged to fight in a foreign (that is, British) army, navy and air force. Recent research has now placed this contribution on a secure basis of historical and statistical fact for the first time, showing that the total number of Irish dead (more than nine thousand) was divided more or less equally between the two parts of Ireland.
The writers in this volume establish that the contribution by Ireland to the eventual liberation of France was not only during the fighting at Dunkirk in 1940 and in Normandy in 1944, but throughout the conflict, as revealed by the list of the dead of Trinity College Dublin, which is examined in one chapter. Respect for human values in the midst of war is shown to have been alive in Ireland, with chapters examining the treatment of shipwreck casualties on Irish shores and the Irish hospital at Saint Lô in France. Other essays in the volume place these events within the complex diplomatic network of a neutral Irish Free State and examine the nature and necessity of memorial in the context of a divided Ireland.

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Preface ix

Extract

Preface In the war of ideas there can be no neutrality.1 Yesterday, sitting as County Minister and Ghoul Lighter in Ordinary for Dublin Town and Environs, I had under consideration certain dossiers from the Sûreté, Ireland Yard, dealing with the perforation of glazed cultural and other fenestrations by missiles not illapidate; and dealing also with missilaneous matters, arising therefrom, not excluding the ceremonial hoisting, dehoisting, and incineration of chauvin insignia, acts reputedly performed by a person or persons uninishowen … I earnestly counsel the wise and thoughtful men who form your Gov- ernment to place on a more explicit basis the admitted extra-territoriality that Trinity College has long enjoyed. Give Trinity independence! Devise a separate Trinity citizenship! Let there be there the right of sanctuary, an honourable customs barrier, a distinct nationality!2 True, … much later I did oppose him in many ways. But … that cannot serve as a justification of my previous passivity … mine was not a moral opposition. I didn’t try to act against him [Hitler] because he persecuted the Jews or started the war. Even then I was able to tell myself that that … was not my business. And the undeniable fact that we had all been conditioned to this attitude is no justification either, I know it.3 1 ‘End of Agony’, The Irish Times, 10 May 1945, p. 1. 2 Myles na gCopaleen, ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’, The Irish Times, 12 May 1945, p. 3. Myles na gCopaleen (‘Myles of the Ponies,/ Little Horses’) is the pseudonym...

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