Drawing on the Marathon History of the Phoenix Park

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What do Irish Marathon Runners and Irish Artists have in common?

Well, apart from the fact that a Marathon Runner can be an Artist and an Artist can be a Marathon Runner they do have something else in common; from time to time, they use Dublin’s iconic Phoenix Park.

As it happens, I use Phoenix Park too. As often as I can I avail of its myriad of nature cloaked walking trails in my attempts to maintain muscle mass.

So, on Sunday 16th November 2012, having decided that Phoenix Park’s Ashtown Demesne would be the pleasant venue for my walking exercise and being completely oblivious to the fact that the New York Marathon was in town, I headed to the park.

You guessed it. By the time I got through the Castleknock Gates of the park I was very much aware that the New York Marathon had definitely come to town, as the athletes were gathered and flexing their muscles on Chesterfield Avenue, just beyond the Mountjoy Roundabout. It was the usual hubbub scene typical of such events; yellow jacketed Stewarts, Gardaí and Park Rangers all mobilised to control and direct the flow. There was quite a buzz about the place.

As a result, my diverted journey to Ashtown Demesne took a little longer than usual, but I didn’t mind. Hurricane Sandy had put the kibosh on the plans so many Irish runners had to participate in the real New York Marathon, so who was I to feel discommoded by their alternative arrangements.

My being delayed was in a good cause because it facilitated: Wayne Reid, Runner No 6917 coming in first with a time of: 02:43:48, Niall Lynch, Runner No 6882 coming in second with a time of: 02:48:59 and Joseph Wright, Runner No 6962 coming in third with a time of: 02:50:55. It also facilitated Karen Lavelle, Runner No 6810, Sherry Johnston, Runner No 6804 and Olwyn Dunne, Runner No 6766 coming in 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively in the women’s section, in just over three hours each. Well done to all participants.

So if they were the Athletes, what then of the Artists?

Having eventually reached Ashtown Demesne and having completed my exercise, which had taken me on a very pleasant walking trail around the periphery of the Demesne, I called to the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre. I had been searching for literature on flora of the park and reckoned what better place to begin my quest. I quickly obtained what I had been looking for and was just about to leave, when I noticed some activity in the exhibition area.

On further investigation, I was delighted to discover an artistic treasure trove of sixty magnificent mounted and framed line drawings of the individual iconic Lodges, Monuments and Scenes from Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

I had not previously seen such a comprehensive collection of beautiful hand crafted art work related to the park. I thought, how lovely it would be for every Irish person living abroad to have one of these beautiful reminders of home to adorn the place which by choice, or by necessity, they presently call home.

Keen to discover the background to the project I spoke with Ms Sheelagh Duff, the Artist whose pen had given form to these lovely images. Sheelagh told me that it had taken her two years to complete the work. While congratulating  Sheelagh on her artistry I found myself thinking, what a lovely legacy has been created for both present and future generations to enjoy.

Perhaps it may have something to do with my inherent love for Dublin’s Phoenix Park, but I instinctively feel that Sheelagh’s Phoenix Park art pieces would make lovely gifts for our Irish Diaspora.

When Sheelagh told me that she did not have any web presence I thought it a shame that her excellent work did not have a broader showcase and offered to introduce her on the internet, hence this article.

Since this article was first written, in late 2012, I have put together the following facility for showcasing some of Sheelagh’s work, enjoy:

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Stationary Grandeur

Standing resplendent, beside Dublin’s river Liffey, at a point where St.John’s Road West meets Victoria Quay, is the magnificent Heuston Station Building.

Formerly known as Kingsbridge Station, the front of this impressive structure was designed in 1846 by English Architect Sancton Wood. Its linked train shed, which extends back, parallel with the river Liffey, was designed by the eminent Irish Civil Engineer: Sir John Benjamin Macneill.

The front structure of the building is of Italian palazzo design featuring Corinthian columns, balustrades, carved swags, urns and domed campaniles.  During the 1990s the older interior passenger concourse area of the station was extensively re-designed and refurbished with additional platforms being added in the early 2000s.

Heuston Station, probably the most elegant of all Dublin’s Train Stations, caters for both main line and suburban passengers. Five million passengers pass through this station each year on mainline routes travelling south and west and on suburban routes, travelling south west.

In 2004 Heuston Station gained a transport neighbour in the form of LUAS Red Line Trams (Dublin’s Light Rail System) with their own stop right in front of the older Heuston Station building.

In 1966 Ireland celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising and during that year, Kingsbridge Station was re-named Heuston Station after Captain Sean Heuston. Sean Heuston was vice-commandant of the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. He worked in Limerick, for the Great Southern and Western Railway Company and later in their Traffic Manager’s Office at Kingsbridge Station, hence the re-naming of the station in his honour.

Striking, is the way I would describe the typical night view of the illuminated frontage of the Heuston Station Building, as seen either from an approach along Victoria Quay or from a selected viewing point, across the river Liffey on Ellis Quay.

On a number of occasions Heuston Station has been a double act; accommodating both trains and movie makers.

During 1979, a large section of the interior of Heuston Station was transformed to represent the Victorian period London Bridge Station, during the making of the Michael Crichton film: The First Great Train Robbery. Famous actors: Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland and Lesley-Anne Down, among others, had starring roles in the film. The film, which was mostly shot in Dublin, went on to earn critical acclaim and secured a: Best Motion Picture Screen Play Edgar Award in 1980, for Director Michel Crichton.

In 2011, Stephen Soderberghs’ film: Haywire saw Heuston Station again in the lime light, as a shooting location. The fast action, Spy Thriller film starring popular actors: Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas, to name but a few, went on to critical acclaim and grossed $32.4 million worldwide.

Heuston Station is but a ten minute walk from another of Dublin’s most beautiful landmarks: The Phoenix Park.

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Mankind’s Curiosity

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Monday 21st July 1969, 2:56am and the five people sleeping soundly in the Caravan at Glengarriff Caravan Park were my parents, my younger brother, younger sister and me, the nineteen year old. We were on a family holiday. Poignantly, and for no reason other than life simply moving on, I do believe that it was the last family holiday in which we all participated.

My recollection of that week is one of wet mornings (what’s new I hear you ask), and a troublesome car. My uncle Michael had lent my father his Ford Cortina for the trip. Although my father had several cars over the years, I can’t recall if he owned one at that particular time. If he did then his judgement must have been that it would not be reliable enough to trust on the long journeys which our planned holiday was likely to involve. Cars were somewhat less reliable in those days.

Anyway, our illusion that we were doing mighty by having the luxury of the Cortina for the week was shattered on the first misty morning when no amount of key turning would engender a response from an exhausted battery. When push came to shove you could take your pick. It was either push or shove, in copious amounts thank you very much, which had to be applied before the blue flyer (as we affectionately named the car) would jerk into life and grant us the possibility of touring for that day.

Holiday or no holiday, Monday 21st July 1969 was no ordinary day. It was a momentous day, during the early hours of which mankind made history in a spectacular feat of exploration, which up to that point in time had been but a dream.

Throughout my late teenage years I had been enthralled by and fully absorbed with, the Apollo Moon Landing Programme.  I had followed each of the missions with the same level of engagement as if lost among the pages of a compelling page turning novel. I was in awe of the talented people at NASA who moved the programme forward, step by careful step, as prelude to the events of 2:56am on 21st July 1969 at which point “one giant leap” was taken for mankind, when the sole of Astronaut: Niall Armstrong boot touched the surface of the Moon.  During each and every mission up to Apollo 11, I had been glued to our black and white television at home, soaking in every blurry image which was transmitted.

We had no access to a television in the Caravan, such a portable facility did not exist in those days, so the first thing on my mind when I got up on the morning of the 21st was where, and how quickly could I get my hands on a newspaper?  I was certainly not best pleased when push and shove had to be applied to the blue flyer, before the newspaper mission could be carried out. At least the Apollo 11 technology seemed to have been a bit more reliable.

Anyway, the blue flyer eventually kicked into life and got us to nearby Newsagents where we staked our claim to the morning broadsheet and in addition, to some lime marmalade and peanut butter, the later items being firsts for the nineteen year old.

It is not manners to read during a meal, our parents would have told us on many an occasion. Well let me tell you, during breakfast on 21st July 1969, there was no way that this kid was not going to read about the successful moon landing while munching his thickly lime marmalaided brown bread. Given the historic nature of things, the rules were bent more than a little.

Fast forward forty three years to 6th August 2012 at 5:17am (GMT), and another epic marker is laid down, on mankind’s long journey to the stars, with the successful autonomous landing of the Curiosity Robotic Rover (MSL), an average distance of 141,548,358 miles away, on the planet Mars. What an achievement?

For me, contrast could not have been greater with that misty black and white Apollo 11 day back in 1969. Here I was this morning, with a comfortable ringside seat from 5am onward, watching proceedings at NASA’s JPL mission control, in real time and in crystal clear vivid colour via the internet on my small laptop computer. How very far we have travelled technologically since then, I thought.

The seven thousand people in the US and around the world, who over recent time have been involved in bringing the Curiosity MSL mission to this morning’s spectacular safe beginning, with the new technology soft landing on the surface of the red planet, deserve immense congratulation. Their combined vision, teamwork and sterling problem solving capabilities have moved humankind’s greater star travel project forward yet one more important notch. In so doing, they have provided priceless inspiration for thousands of young men and women who may now as a result, feel compelled to find their way into the space sciences and who may in time themselves actualise the science fiction concepts of today.

It all began when our early ancestors gazed at the twinkling silver points of light, in night skies over their primitive landscapes and simply wondered. But when human ingenuity evolved telescopes, which allowed us to see our companion worlds up close, there was really no looking back.

Sir William Rowan Hamilton, one of Ireland’s greatest mathematicians and scientists, spent his entire working life at Dublin’s Dunsink Observatory. He is famous for his discovery, in 1843 of quaternions (a number system that extends the complex numbers and applies them to mechanics in three-dimensional space).  Hamilton and his like, laid much of the mathematical ground work which would eventually feed into space science and serve to guide us to the enlightened place we are in today, on our conscious journey to the stars.

Dunsink Observatory is one of the oldest scientific institutions in Ireland. Built between 1783 and 1785 using a bequest to Trinity College from Provost Andrews, it was originally the observatory attached to Trinity College Dublin and also the residence of the Andrews’ Professor of Astronomy (who also bore the honorary title of Royal Astronomer of Ireland until 1922). The observatory is situated on the highest point to the north-west of Dublin; about 8km from the city center and is in close proximity the Dublin’s famous landmark, the Phoenix Park.

Was any present day Irish Scientist involved with the Curiosity (MSL) Project?  Indeed there was.  Dr. Robert Lillis, a Dublin-born academic who received his primary theoretical physics degree in Trinity College was involved. Dr.Lillis worked on the radiation assessment detector instrument on the probe. He is also working on the next mission to Mars called: MAVEN which is due for launch in twenty six months’ time.

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Longueville House – Old World Grandeur Discovered

While recently touring in North County Cork about 6km from Mallow, we happened upon a country mansion of particular charm and elegance. It was time for morning coffee and scones (hopefully), so what better surroundings we thought to complement that ritual, than the grandeur of a country manor house.

Venturing from the main road into the Longueville Demesne we journeyed, via a rough surface driveway of about 1 km, past two interesting lodges, and eventually arrive at the main dwelling; the magnificent 18th Century Mansion: Loungeville House.

After parking the car in the nearby car park and making our way back the short distance to the front of the house, we were awe struck by the magnificent view way off into the distance towards Dromineen Castle (The original seat of the O’Callaghan Clan).

We entered the dwelling via its massive hall door and found our way into what could only be described as a sumptuously large 18th Century sitting room tastefully bedecked with furnishings of that period. What luxury. We located a member of staff who took our order and in a short while we were pouring tea from an elegant teapot through silver tea strainers and applying layers of jam and cream to our scones. Ah, that was the life for sure.

However, with each bite of my scone I found myself thinking what would life have been like for previous owners and occupiers of this beautiful house?

As we finishing our coffee the hostess arrived and we chatted with her for a short period about the history of the house following which she provided some written background. It is an interesting story which I am sure she will not mind me telling here so, quoting from the history hand out, here goes:

 “Longueville is situated on an eminence overlooking the Blackwater Valley – the Irish Rhine. The house, a Georgian Mansion home, is in the centre of a 500 acre wooded estate. The beautifully sited house, or centre block of same, was built about 1720 by the Longfield family who always maintained they were of French extraction and not Cromwellians. The first Longfield appearing in the history of the area was a tax collector. How he acquired the property from Purdon, a soldier of Cromwell, is not certain, but it is certain that these lands were originally owned by Donough O’Callaghan who fought with the Catholic Confederates after the collapse of the 1641 Rebellion and so O’Callaghan forfeited his lands to Cromwell, the property held by Clann Ua Ceallachain for as far back as history can go for us – “lands as beautiful and fertile as any in Ireland”. At this time the area was known by its old Gaelic name Garamaconey, but the Longfield family (probably when Richard Longfield was created Baron Loungeville in 1795) changed the name to Loungeville. This same gentleman was rewarded with a Viscountcy five years later for his support of the Act of Union, together probably, with a large sum of money which he may have got as compensation for loss of his seat in Parliament.

It is a fair assumption that this money was one reason anyway for the expensive re-construction and alterations carried out to the house at this time. Dated from this period are the two spacious wings added to the house together with the stone parapets and the pillared porch. The house, which is architecturally descriptive of the late Georgian period, features a large hall door and fan light, Portland stone floored entrance hall and two beautifully plastered and decorated ceilings in the dining room and main lounge completed by an Italian Artist. There is the white marble Adam mantelpiece in the dining room featuring a relief depicting Neptune in his Chariot. There are numerous inlaid mahogany doors with magnificent brass locks. There is also the very fine Victorian conservatory constructed in curved ironwork which was added to the east side of the dwelling in 1866. Loungeville as it stands today encapsulates the splendour of antiquity and is back once again in the ownership of the O’Callaghan’s whose forbearers were originally deprived of the property by Cromwell in 1650. The wheel turned a full circle when the present owner’s grandfather, Senator William O’Callaghan, bought the property in 1938.    

From the door step of Loungeville there is a wonderful view of the most beautiful of all Irish river valleys. The viewer looking from the house through an opening in the oak trees (themselves planted in the formation of the English and French battle lines at Waterloo) takes in historic Dromineen Castle perched on Dover like cliffs overlooking the stately river Blackwater.”

Should you be touring in the area then this lovely Demesne and Manor House is well worth a visit, especially if your family name happens to be O’Callaghan.

I was interested to note the link between the tree planting arrangement at Loungeville Demesne and the battle lines at Waterloo. Upon hearing this I was immediately reminded of another and yet stronger link to the Battle of Waterloo which is the grand monument to the Duke of Wellington in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

Have you seen Loungeville Demesne?  What was your impression?

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A Historic Gate

When emerging on to St. Stephens Green from the top of Dublin’s Grafton Street, one cannot fail to be impressed by the elegant imposing arch which, on the opposite side of the road, adorns the corner entrance to St. Stephens Green Park.

This Wicklow granite ashlar build monument, known as Fusiliers Arch, was erected in 1907. It is a war memorial in honour of the many Royal Dublin Fusiliers who lost their lives in action in South Africa during the Second Boer War 1899-1902.

This is an abstract from the inscriptions on the arch:

In memory of the officers, non-commissioned officers

and men of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who fell in the

South African War A.D.1899·1900

In recent weeks, while browsing in Reads Book Shop on Nassau Street, I happened upon a book written by one: Ken Finlay entitled: Dublin Day by Day (366 Days of Dublin History).

The book is a fascinating journey, through short 200 word snippets of one years’ worth, of day by day Dublin History, spanning a 967 year period:  1014 to 1981.

On page 116 under the date 31st July, I came upon the following:

“The Dublin Fusiliers and four other Irish regiments in the British Army were officially disbanded on 31st July 1922. In June, the flags of the Regiment had been handed over to King George V who promised to hold them in trust until the regiments were re-established.

 The regiment of the Dublin Fusiliers had come into existence as far back as the mid – 1600s as part of the East India Company garrison – the 102nd Royal Madras Fusiliers – the Dublin Fusiliers date from the merging of the two Indian regiments after the Indian Mutiny in 1857.

 The Dubs (also nicknamed “The Old Toughs”) were mauled during the Boer War. In November 1899 a party of Dubs, along with London Evening Post reporter Winston Churchill were captured by the Boers. On his escape two months later Churchill telegraphed the Colonel of the Dublin Fusiliers: “My earnest congratulations on the honour of the Dublin Fusiliers more than any other Regiment have won for the land of their birth. We are all wearing Shamrock here.”

 During WWI a total of 4,777 Dubs lost their lives during the battles of Gallipoli, Salonika, Somme, Ypres and Passchendaele. The regiment’s lasting memorial is Fusiliers Arch at the Grafton Street end of St. Stephens Green – it records casualties suffered during the Boer War”.

Winston Churchill, as a child, spent several happy years living at the Little Lodge (Residence of the Private Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland) in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.  In 1878 young Winston was present in the park to witness his grandfather, the Viceroy, unveiled an equestrian statue to Lord Gough (Lieut-Colonel George Gough – 1779-1869). Lord Gough was an Irishman and a highly decorated Officer in the British Army who had distinguished himself during the Peninsular War in 1809 and later in India. The statue to Lord Gough once stood at the cross-roads near the Parkgate Street end of the Phoenix Park, where today visitors will see only a traffic roundabout.

In his book: My Early Life 1874-1904 written in 1930 Winston Churchill recounts his Phoenix Park experience of 1847 as follows:

“A great black crowd, scarlet soldiers on horse-back, strings pulling away a brown shiny sheet, the Old Duke, the formidable grandpa; is talking loudly to the crowd. I recall even a phrase he used: ‘And with a withering volley he shattered the enemy’s line.’ I quite understood that he was speaking about war and fighting and that a volley meant what the black-coated soldiers (riflemen) used to do with loud bangs so often in the Phoenix Park where I was taken for morning walks”.

Have you ever wondered about the Arch in St. Stephens Green? Have you ever visited the Arch or St. Stephens Green Park? I would be interested to read your comments.

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Another Day – Another Milestone

It was a pleasant 22°c, and sunshine to boot, as I headed off earlier this morning to garner some welcome fresh air and walking exercise, in Dublin’s beautiful Phoenix Park.

People are free to ramble almost everywhere within the park. However, there are nonetheless six popular hard surfaced main walking routes available, which together guide visitors through a mixture of pleasant woodland, glens, open savannah and the more people centric areas such as the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre and Dublin Zoological Gardens.  I would name the walking routes as follows:

  • Oldtown Wood
  • Furry Glen
  • Khyber Stream
  • Peoples Gardens
  • Áras an Uachtaráin
  • Ashtown Castle

My choice of route this morning was the Áras an Uachtaráin walk, which takes an hour to complete, at an easy pace. Visitors may join this route anywhere between the Gough Roundabout and the Phoenix Roundabout on Chesterfield Avenue or from any point along the Zoo Road, the North Road or Odd lamp Road. The route guides visitors on a circular journey around the periphery of the Áras an Uachtaráin Demesne, Dublin Zoological Gardens and the Ratra House Demesne.

Áras an Uachtaráin translates from Gaelic as: the Hall of the President. As I walked past the Chesterfield Avenue viewing point, which overlooks the rear gardens of this splendid mansion built in 1751, I was mindful of the duty which our President was engaged in today – 27th June 2012. As patron of Co-operation Ireland together with Queen Elizabeth II, President Higgins was attending an art exhibition (an all Island cultural event) in the Lyric Theatre in south Belfast.

So, what was significant about today? Well, although not part of her Diamond Jubilee celebration schedule, Queen Elizabeth for the first time extended a hand of friendship to the Nationalist Population as exemplified by her hand shake and greeting with North of Irelands Deputy First Minister: Martin McGuiness of Sinn Fein. Yesterday, the Queen also extended a hand of friendship to the Roman Catholic tradition  by making what was to be her first ever visit, in the North of Ireland, to a Roman Catholic Church. Taken together, these are powerful signs of just how far forward the process of peace and reconciliation has been moved, between our two Islands.

Some would probably hold the view that a hand shake between Sinn Fein and the British Monarch should have taken place during Queen Elizabeth’s welcome visit to the Republic of Ireland during 2011. However, one could also say: better late than never.

There are more family and friendship links which bind Britain and Ireland together than not. One would be hard put not to find many families throughout the whole of Ireland who’s Fathers, Mothers, Brothers or Sisters did not, as some point over the years, needed to travel to Britain to find work so they could continue to support their families back in Ireland. I am Irish and fiercely proud of that fact, but my nearest European neighbours are English, Scottish and Welsh people with whom we have so much in common. I wish to have as cordial a relationship with my other Island neighbours, as I do with my fellow countrymen.

I continued my walk around by Dublin Zoological Gardens and back along the North Road. When I reached Ratra House (formerly the Secretary’s Lodge) I was reminded of Winston Churchill (Britain’s Prime Minister during WWII) who, as a six year old child, played within these very grounds.

Having turned off Odd Lamp Road back on to Chesterfield Avenue at the Phoenix Roundabout and looked across to the entrance gates to Deerfield House, I was reminded of Arthur Wellesley, a Dublin man, who in 1815 as Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo and who subsequently went on to become Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Conflict, especially between neighbours and particularly where loss of life is involved can be a terrible thing. The bitterness which ensues can scar generations and healing paths can take many years to find. However, peace heroes do emerge. Very brave people, who often times during the height of conflict, take serious risks in the pursuit of the goal of peace. I salute the brave men and women, on all sides, who toiled for so long to bring about peace on this Island. Some are well known, but many I am sure, by their choosing, may remain forever hidden in the background.

It was quite an emotional moment, to hear Queen Elizabeth II in Dublin Castle during her 2011 visit to Ireland, utter those Gaelic words: An Uachtaráin agus a chairde (President and friends). In relationships, such gestures mean a lot. Upon shaking the hand of the Deputy First Minister at departure from the Lyric Theatre today, his Gaelic message to the Queen was: “Slán agus beannacht” which means health and blessings and is a Gaelic way of wishing someone well, who is leaving.

Today was another milestone in the on-going process of nurturing peace and reconciliation on these Islands. Long may it last.

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Time Capsule – I May be a General Yet

At the outbreak of WWI on 28th July 1914, Ireland was governed from Britain and was considered by the British, to be as much a part of their Empire as any other country under British dominion, at that time. In fact, Dublin was considered by the British ruling class, and those in Ireland who favoured the link with Britain, to be the second city of the British Empire.

The trigger for the outbreak of WWI was the assassination, by a Serb Nationalist, of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and his wife. The assassination was carried out in the city of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina. While this event was the spark which finally plunged the continent of Europe into the worst conflagration in its history, it was not the actual cause of the conflict. WWI resulted from storm clouds of complex political, economic and social factors which had been rumbling since the 1870s.

It was against this horrific backdrop that Irishman William Luson, Seargent 7822 of B Company, 5th Service Battalion, the Connacht Rangers found himself, as a British Army Soldier, in Kilworth Camp, County Cork just two months after the commencement of WWI.

William was either a close family friend of my paternal grandparents: Philip Lennon and Anne Breen, or a cousin of Anne Breen. I have not been able to absolutely confirm which. In 1914, my paternal grandparents lived in an area of Dublin in close proximity to the cities famous Phoenix Park, known as Arbour Place.

However, a letter which he wrote to my grandparents in 1914, while he was stationed at Kilworth Camp, during that dark period in European History, was lovingly preserved for 90 years on my father’s side of the family, until it finally came into my possession, on the passing of our mother in 2004.

So here are the transcribed words of Sgt William Luson as he ponders the war and the likely role of his unit in the conflict. I cannot imagine how he must have felt, day to day, living with the fact that at any moment his unit was likely to be moved to the front line:

Kilworth Camp,
County Cork,
30th September 1914

 Dear Phil,

 It is time that I thought of scribbling these few lines, but I can assure you that I am not at the seat of war.

I am busy in trying to get Kitcheners new army into shape for we are going through a years work in a month; getting the raw material in shape for the big fight which must come off before the Kaiser says enough; which I am sure will be the end of a tyrant. As sure as night follows day he will be in the same predicament as his historic friend Napoleon at Waterloo. In any case, let us hope that the defeat of the Germans will be soon.

Dear Phil, your kind words about my destination fills me with praise for you kind thoughts for the troops now in the British Isles, but as you know every true soldier from old Ireland would like to be at the seat of war to lend a hand to our dear comrades at the war, but I suppose it is my luck, but I think that every regular soldier in Britain’s small army will be in at the end and once more show the world what our little army can do, when the time comes to fight.

How I am sorry to have to say that we have lost a great proportion of Officers of the old Rangers and it makes me feel uneasy for our dear Charles safety, as I know that the rank and file must have suffered a great deal, but we must keep on hoping for the best and may god in his mercy watch over him and may he be as lucky as I have been in South Africa. May he return safely to his dear wife and children.

Dear Phil, It gave me the greatest pleasure to see that you have seen Brandy Lyons and that his words up to date, were so encouraging. Let us hope that they are still the same.

Dear Phil, tell my dear cousin Nan that I send her my best wishes, for she was always the flower of the flock and one who I always think was a kind friend to me, even in childhood.

So now, I will draw this too short a note to a close, hoping it finds your dear children, Nan and yourself enjoying the best of health.

I remain your true and sincere friend Bill.

Good bye and good luck.

 P.S. Answer soon, as I may leave here at any time. I was near forgetting. I am up one. No: 7822 Seargent William Luson, B Coy, 5th Service Battalion, the Connacht Rangers, Kilworth.

I may be a General yet.

Do you know of anyone by the name of Luson who may have served in the British Army during WWI?  Do you know anything about the role of the Connacht Rangers 5th Service Battalion in WWI?  If so you might consider leaving a comment.

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