Remembering Irish participation in World War I

Earlier this year in our Dublin headquarters, we hosted the launch of an online tool to search the names and biographies of up to 50,000 Irish soldiers who died fighting in the British army during World War I. Today, we travelled with Irish Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltecht Heather Humphries to the site of the Ypres battlefield in Belgium and took two important new steps to increase the project’s impact.

The In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres has joined our Google Cultural Institute and posted an online exhibition about Irish World War I commemoration.
The new Cultural Institute Irish World War I exhibit
We also are joining with the Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in creating a new fellowship program to send students from Dublin on internships to Ypres. During its research, the museum discovered that the records were neither fully correct nor complete. So far, the museum has checked 11,060 out of the 49,000 names. Irish students will now come to Belgium to verify and update information on the rest of the list.
Today's presentation in Ypres
Minister Humphreys, right, discovers the new Cultural Insititute exhibtion
This is a big day in Flanders. Belgium is commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Ypres. The Allies stopped the German advance in the battle, and the two sides settled into four years of deadly, protracted trench warfare, with Ypres the site of some of the war’s bitterest and most brutal struggles. A total of 83 countries are participating in the commemorations, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

For some, the Irish role in these hostilities has been controversial because the soldiers fought in the British army, but returned to a changed Ireland following the 1916 uprising. At the project’s Dublin launch,  then Irish Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore T.D., hosted Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. All three spoke movingly about how the project should help heal wounds.

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.

Other organizations provided invaluable assistance to make this project come to life. The Irish genealogical history and heritage company Eneclann contributed important images and research. And the Irish Embassy in Belgium led by Ambassador Éamonn Mac Aodha played a crucial role in promoting and facilitating. Google is proud to play a part in this exciting project helping to make sure that the memory of the names of those who died in World War 1 remain alive.