On Sunday last, Armistice Day, St Mary’s Church of Ireland, Shinrone was the beautiful setting for an Ecumenical service of Remembrance where a poignant tribute was paid to the men and women of Shinrone and District who served in World War I.
The event obviously struck a chord with many people as the Church was full for the service which began before 11am. Included in the congregation were many family members of the men who died and also of those who returned to a completely changed Ireland.
The chief celebrant was Canon Ruth Gill and she was joined by Father Michael Reddin, Rev Janet White Spunner, Rev Tom Kingston and Father Laurence Walsh, Mt Saint Joseph Abbey. The service was also attended by Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy and Barry Cowen, Teachtaí Dálai, Mr Danny Owens, Chairman of Offaly County Council, Peter Ormond MCC and John Clendennen MCC, Amanda Pedlow, Heritage officer Offaly County Council.
At 11am Church bells rang out in remembrance of the dead. Following the Exhortation, which was ready by Mr Seymour Kenny, the Last Post and Reveille were sounded by Mr Ollie Grace. Two minutes of silence were observed.
Following this, wreaths were laid at the altar by Michael Leonard, representing Shinrone Heritage Group, Ms Mabel Wallace and Lee Deane, representing the relatives of the War Dead. Ms Wallace is a niece of Cecil J Kenny, who died on March 24, 1918 and Lee Deane is a relative of John Shanahan who died on August 17, 1917 and Patrick Shanahan who was killed on March 24, 1918. Mr Tom Hoolan, whose father John survived the war, and Mr John Lloyd, great grandson of Colonel Lloyd who also survived the war, laid a wreath on behalf of the children of the Returned. Patricia Brophy, whose uncle Peter Brophy was killed on June 16, 1917, laid a wreath on behalf of the Leinster Regiment Association. The final wreath was laid by Margaret Howe on behalf of the British Royal Legion, Midland Counties and Kildare Branch.
Local children Claire Flannery, Adam Stanley, James Morkan and Olivia Foote called the names of thirty eight men from Shinrone and surrounding area who died in “the war to end all wars.” Included were four members of the Benson family, whose parents, James and Catherine, were teachers in Cloughmoyle National School, Shinrone.
In a thought provoking address to the congregation, Canon Ruth Gill spoke of the heroism of the men and women who answered the call to arms and also the sheer brutality and senselessness of the War.
Mr Jim Feighery recalled the names of ten men who survived the war and returned to their families and also of two war chaplains from Mt Saint Joseph Abbey, Roscrea. He thanked everyone involved in the Liturgy, the commemorative booklet and Heritage Officer Amanda Pedlow. Jim read letters from Uachtarán na hÉireann Mr Michael D Higgins and Queen Elizabeth sending best wishes to Shinrone Heritage Group.
On behalf of Shinrone Heritage Group, Chairman Michael Leonard thanked all who helped, including the main sponsors Liffey Mills and Grant Engineering. He invited everyone to refreshments in the Community Centre, Shinrone and to view the wonderful exhibition of memorabilia relating to World War I. He thanked the Defence Forces for sending a 1918 armoured car to Shinrone and all those who supplied other vehicles from that era.
‘When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today’