OVER 500 men were killed and 2,000 people from Co Carlow were injured during the Great War, which will be commemorated by Co Carlow Military Museum over the August bank holiday weekend.
To mark the centenary of the beginning of the war, the museum is hosting a series of events such as one-act plays, re-enactments, a wreath-laying ceremony and a lecture, which the public are encouraged to attend.
“This isn’t a militaristic event,” said Paul Maguire, a St Killian’s Crescent man and chairman of the museum. “This is about the Co Carlow families who’ve lost people during the Great War of August 1914 and November 1918.
“About 6,500 men from the county would have fought in WWI, which, considering that Carlow was a quarter of its size today, is amazing. There were also the women who served as nurses and in the munitions factories. It was a trauma to the community – the effect it had here was massive.”
Women, men and teenage boys as young as 17 and 18 bravely fought with the British army, many of whom are never mentioned today.
The museum, through the medium of theatre and re-enactment, hopes to bring to life the sense of passion, anger, loss, love and hope felt by the communities at the time.
Based in the old church on the Athy Road, Carlow, the museum is the main hub of the weekend’s activities. On Friday 1 August, Paul will deliver a lecture about the war in the Seven Oaks Hotel at 7.30pm.
This will be followed by a commemorative and wreath-laying service at the Leighlinbridge First World War Memorial Arch on Sunday 3 August at 2pm. Attending will be Rev Michael Burrows, Bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory and Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.
From noon on Monday 4 August, visitors to the museum can experience, through re-enactment, the daily duties of a soldier and an army nurse, featuring Brian and Mary Kenny. Later that afternoon, three one-act plays, written by local playwrights Irene Kane, Siobhan Harte and John MacKenna, will be staged.
One of the plays, Spilled Blood by Irene Kane, tells the remarkable story of Michael Keogh, a Tullow man, who managed to fight on both sides of the war and was decorated by both the British and German governments.
Medicine in the battlefield by Siobhán Harte gives an insight into the world of three Irish nurses, while I am not Woodbine Willie by John MacKenna tells the story of an Irish army chaplain.
All the events are free and everyone is welcome to attend.