Thursday Doors – Cavan County Museum 10

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.

About Jean Reinhardt

Author of 'A Pocket Full of Shells' an Amazon International best seller, Jean writes young adult and historical fiction. She has been known to shed a tear over Little House on the Prairie.
This entry was posted in Blogging, Historical buildings, History, Ireland, social issues, Thursday Doors, Travel, videos and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Thursday Doors – Cavan County Museum 10

  1. Dan Antion says:

    This is a sad post. To die do young…But we need to remember these people, both in the trenches and in the tenements.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ally Bean says:

    So easy to forget what previous generations went through and what they considered normal. The trenches were horrible and the tenements were crowded. I wouldn’t survive any of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sheree says:

    How interesting but also how sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Norm 2.0 says:

    Such a sombre and sobering post Jean. Being reminded of the misery and hardships imposed upon so many back then makes it hard to sympathize with those complaining about having to simply stay home today.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. WWI is somewhat of a forgotten, or at least neglected, war when compared to WWII. But it was quite terrible and these trenches look quite nice compared to much of what I’ve read–mud, collapsing walls, men getting trench foot, shell shock (considered cowardice and could lead to execution by firing squad), etc. Charles Todd writes poignantly and well about WWI in two different series.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dennyho says:

    It is good to share this in order that we know and remember the heroes who came before us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. TCast says:

    This is an interesting post, Jean. It is so sad too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a meaningful and sad trip. Indeed, we should never forget the sacrifices young men made.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A strange irony. An Irishman named Michael O’Neill died in the trenches while serving in an Irish regiment of the British Army. He died in April 1916 at almost the exact same time that the exact same British Army was sent over to Dublin to kill lots of Irish people who wanted to be free of British oppression. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s very sad indeed. Many Irishmen enlisted spurred on by Redmond’s speech about the promise of home rule for Ireland if the country’s men would sign up. Those men paraded through Dublin as heroes, often called Redmonites. But many that survived the war to return home did not get a good reception, as the promise of self government was never fulfilled and there was a change of public opinion after 1916.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. DrJunieper says:

    here I can sense the writer in you. You have only one photo of him, and the fact her died, and you made these two facts into a whole story! A great job, Jean! I like that that have the photos on the walls. So horrible, this is where I have many questions to God, the first one is WHY?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jguenther5 says:

      In “Time Bandits,” the boy, Kevin, asks The Supreme Being, “Why is there Evil?”
      The Supreme Being says, “It has something to do with free will.”
      Kevin at least got an answer. Job got none.

      Liked by 1 person

    • When we lived in Spain I spent months trying to find out where Michael was buried. I remember during an online search at four o’clock in the morning (genealogy is addictive) I found his name on the memorial wall at Loos, France. It made me cry. I had a son his age at the time and it really touched me deeply. Also, I was very close to my husband’s grandfather, Michael’s younger brother, which made me feel a connection. I wanted to make sure he was remembered, Jesh.

      Like

  11. jguenther5 says:

    WWI was more deadly for British and French soldiers than WWII. Russians, the reverse.
    Yes, that’s a lovely trench, a veritable Biltmore of trenches.

    See “Now It Can Be Told” for an expose of the shoddy, dishonest, stupid way WWI was conducted. See “A Very Long Engagement” for a realist’s movie treatment of WWI.

    My uncle was in WWI. He drove a munitions truck, or “ambulance,” as he called it in his letters home. He once saw a German plane go over and drop two bombs on a town, then turn towards him. Knowing the German plane held three bombs, he bailed out of the truck and went into the nearest ditch. The explosion that followed left him covered with dust and partly deaf. It made a crater in the road “big enough you could put a house in it.” The English soldiers called him “Whitey” thereafter.

    My uncle said when he got home, “If we ever have another war, they’ll have to sift every ash-heap in Ohio to find me. Unless we go to war with England. Then I’ll be the first one [to sign up].”

    WWI was not the war to make the world safe for democracy. It was the war to create WWII.

    Liked by 1 person

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