Honoring Irish casualties from World War I

During World War I, about 50,000 Irish soldiers died fighting in the British army. Until now, these records were located only in a book released in 1923 and published in a mere 100 copies. Google has worked with the Irish genealogical history and heritage company Eneclann and the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium to build a new Irish memorial website, bringing a list of Irish war dead available online and making it searchable with this simple tool.

Today, Ireland’s Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore T.D., launched the new website with Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at our Dublin headquarters.  “While the digitisation and online access to this record will be a rich resource for genealogy, most significant is its value in facilitating the simple and important act of remembering the individuals, Irish men and women, who lost their lives in the First World War,” Tánaiste Gilmore said.

The two Northern Irish leaders spoke movingly about the project. “My presence is a clear indication of the maturity in confronting history on this island. For many years, this as something that people were not prepared to talk about, to face up to, to acknowledge,” said deputy First Minister McGuinness.  First Minister Peter Robinson agreed, saying: “As we enter an important decade of commemorations in both our countries, it is my hope that what has been established here today will keep alive the history and the stories of those who did not return from war.”

Deputy First Minister McGuiness 
Work on the archive dates back to July 2012 when the Irish ambassador to Belgium, Éamonn Mac Aodha approached Google and In Flanders Fields Museum. During the research, the museum discovered that the records for Irish casualties of the First World War were neither fully correct nor complete. More records simply list France as place of death. Many probably instead died in Flanders - in all some 11,060 out of the 49,000 have now been identified as being killed or commemorated or buried in Belgium.

More than 100 guests attended today’s launch. These included family members who had researched relatives who died in World War One; members of the diplomatic corps; political representatives and historians and academics, and members of commemorative organisations. Our idea is to engage the public and increase knowledge about these casualties. If you find an ancestor or locate a long-lost relative in the list send, documents, pictures, letters or any other relevant information, email [email protected]. The information will be verified and added to the website.

The new Irish World War I records search tool
This event marks the opening of the ceremonies for the 100th year of the outbreak of World War I. We’re proud to play a part in this project as a sign of our commitment to Ireland, our European headquarters, and to using technology to fill in holes left by history.