To commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1 I showcased an exhibition in the library in September 2014.
During my research I found some fascinating information such as copies of old letters from sons writing to their parents from the front. Although 1914 seems so long ago it still is only a few generations. From this School Ms Wolahan’s grandfather and two of Ms Stout’s great grand uncles fought in ‘the Great War’. The war escalated after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and what made it so tragic was that so many ordinary people signed up to fight.
However, despite all the heart-breaking stories there were still many heart-warming and uplifting ones. For example, there were various accounts of a Christmas truce amongst German and British soldiers on Christmas Eve, 1914 where they sang Christmas Carols together. There were also letters from soldiers telling their mothers they were ok.
As part of the exhibition in the library I really wanted to touch on the human element and what life was like during the war. Students could read about how women’s roles had changed, what families had to do to cope during the blitz, the aftermath of the war on soldiers and why many Irish choose to fight with Britain. I believe to really understand the sheer terror of World War 1 we must consider the personal loss. Someone’s grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, uncle, aunt, son, daughter, friend or neighbour died or were killed during the war. As Wilfred Owen aptly put…
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie, Dulce et Decorum est
Pro Parti Mori