Welcome to part 10 in the Cavan County Museum series of Thursday Doors. This one is dedicated to a young man in my husband’s family, his grandfather’s older brother, who lost his life in the first world war. His name was Michael O’Neill and he joined the Dublin Fusiliers in September 1914, arriving in France a year later. We don’t have any photos of him except one that was printed in a newspaper at the time of his death.
Michael was only twenty years old when he died in the trenches of Hulluch during a gas attack on April 27th 1916. Of the 2,128 casualties, approximately 538 died, many of them slowly from respiratory disease. Lieutenant Lyon of the 7th Leinsters helped to gather the dead remarking that “some of them were holding hands like children in the dark.”
These photos were taken on a visit to the Cavan County Museum before the lockdown. This WW1 replica trench, part of the museum’s outdoor exhibits, is the largest one open to the public in the UK and Ireland. It was a very sobering experience walking through it, imagining what young Michael’s last days must have been like.
During the same week that Michael was under attack in the trenches his home city was also witnessing a battle. The Easter rising of 1916 was taking place and I’m sure he was concerned for the safety of his parents, sister and two younger brother who lived in one of the many tenement buildings in the heart of Dublin city. You can see from the following images and video how much damage was done when the city was shelled during the conflict.
I know this is a sad and sombre post and next week I’m afraid it will be more of the same as we continue our journey through the trench. I’m sure Norm has links to more cheerful Thursday Doors over on his blog.