Retracing Longford’s rich link to World War I

Elizabeth Fleming, Kathleen Molloy, Susanna Byrne and Mary McGushin with a Military Cross Medal from Gallipoli at the opening of the World War I exhibition in Lanesboro. Photo: Michelle Ghee.
There’s nothing like a sprinkling of history and folklore to draw the crowds.

There’s nothing like a sprinkling of history and folklore to draw the crowds.

No more evident was this than in the thronged surrounds of Lanesboro Community Library last Wednesday as locals turned out in force for a special World War I exhibition.

In what has become one of a series of events to mark the Great War’s 100th anniversary, around 100 interested spectators were treated to an evening full of mythology and gallant tales from yesteryear.

And according to Lanesboro branch librarian, Stella O’Sullivan it couldn’t have gone much better.

“It went very well,” she beamed.

“We had a great turnout and for quite a small library like ours it was jam-packed.

“The evening was all about remembering local men who fought in World War I.”

Among them included names such as Thomas Harold, Patrick Killian, brothers Fr Peter O’Farrell and Luke O’Farrell, Patrick Farrell, Daniel Doorigan and John Hopkins.

Volunteer nurse, Sophia Violet Barrett also got more than a passing mention.

The 34-year-old, as revealed in last week’s Leader, died when a German u-boat shot down the mailboat RMS Leinster in October 1918.

Her travails were one of several Ms O’Sullivan helped translate to a captive audience alongside Longford Historical Society and Lanesboro Heritage Group member, John Casey.

Asked about the large numbers in attendance, Ms O’Sullivan said its success was mainly due to the many interesting artefacts which had been offered up.

“Paddy Egan left some of what he had in a display case and then there were lots of photographs and other memorabilia left by the relatives of those who fought,” she said.

Ms O’Sullivan said she was unsure whether the library would host another exhibition of its type before the turn of the year.

Instead, she pointed to the array of events Longford Library has lined up to coincide with Heritage Week 2014 at the end of the month.

But she claimed the Great War and the experiences obtained as a result of last week’s gathering would live on.

“What I am hoping to do is put all the information I have garnered into a small booklet for people to come in and look at,” she said.

Ms O’Sullivan said the yet to be compiled dossier will, in time, provide an interesting educational tool for local schools.