Remembrance Day will be observed in Clongowes on next Sunday, 11th November, to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended ‘at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month’, in accordance with the armistice signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente earlier that morning.
There will be a special Mass at 11.30 on Sunday to mark this event as well as to remember the fallen from Clongowes and the many other Irish men who gave their lives in the Great War. A wreath of poppies will be laid by the Headmaster, Mr Lumb, while music as well as some poetry from our own Tom Kettle and Wilfred Owen along with some film will make for an evocative and moving liturgy
Old Clongownians had responded to the urging of John Redmond(himself a past pupil) and played a prominent role in the Irish contribution to the Allied effort in World War I. Over 600 past pupils participated in the war and 95 lost their lives The names of the fallen are inscribed on a brass plaque just outside the entrance to the Boys’ Chapel (just inside the ‘Shrine Door’). Among them were Redmond’s own brother, Willie,and Thomas Kettlejournalist, barrister, writer and Home Rule politician, both of whom saw service and met their deaths on the Western Front.
These men and their peers saw themselves as fighting for Ireland as much as the Clongownians who took part in the Irish Revolutionand the ensuing tragic Civil War. Past pupil John Vincent Hollandwon a Victoria Cross – the highest decoration of the British forces – fighting with the 16thDivision of the Leinster Regiment at Guillemont in the Somme in September 1916, while 41 others won military crosses. In all, Old Clongownians have been awarded four Victoria Crosses – in the Crimean War, the Boer War and both world wars.
They shall grow not old
In October 2014, a group from the Clongowes Wood College community with some alumni and friends visited Flanders and the Somme to commemorate the contribution of Old Clongownians and Irish Jesuits to World War One. The trip turned into parallel individual and collective commemorations of fallen soldiers in WWI, as we found graves and markers for members of family, the Society of Jesus and the Clongowes school community. (Report here).Whatever cause they gave their lives for, there is a kind of peace in these cemetery cities where they lie. Tom Kettle suggested as much in a letter he wrote shortly before his death:
I hope to come back. If not, I believe that to sleep here in the France that I have loved is no harsh fate, and that so passing out into silence, I shall help towards the Irish settlement. Give my love to my colleagues – the Irish people have no need of it.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
– ‘For the Fallen’ (Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon, 21 September 1914.)
This material has been compiled from the writings of Mr Brendan Cullen, Dr Ida Milne and Mr Declan O’Keeffe