More On Remembrance

Contributed by Peter Rigney

Ceist: Which serves commemoration better- wearing a poppy for half the autumn or lobbying councillors to retain a British Legion Hall in Killester due to be demolished to make way for a crèche?

The Northside People recently carried a story about the controversy over the proposed demolition of this structure, built in the 1920s and described as the last remaining structure of its kind in Ireland. A protest meeting was called by Labour councillor Aodhan O Riordain and was attended by Artane man Noel Cullen, secretary of the local Royal British Legion branch. We are not told how the hall went out of the possession of the legion.

The Killester development, where 247 bungalows were built for the families of men who fought in World War 1 was part of the ‘Homes fit for heroes’.  Killester railway station was built to serve it, and the competing private bus line was called ‘The Contemptible’: using the brand image of the ‘Old Contemptibles’, those who had served since 1914.  The statement that the hall is unique is an error: there is a hall built by the British Legion in the CIE estate near Inchicore Railway Works which is now home to a boxing club.

The manner in which the piece has been covered by the Northside People is a useful example of the strengths and weaknesses of the local press to the modern historian. The local press can often contain snippets which, while not always one hundred percent accurate,  might otherwise never surface or would take an age to hunt down elsewhere.  When working on an article on how returning veterans of the Great War fared in the labour market, for example, I came across an article in the Dundalk Democrat on how Halpenny’s, the local bus service, was founded by a veteran who returned from service in a cavalry unit in the middle east.  I keep meaning to find out the origins of Kavanagh’s coach service, based in Urlingford, whose corporate logo includes the words ‘founded 1919’.

The piece is also important in highlighting issue of remembrance, brought up previously on this blog by Seán Brennan.  According to the British Legion representative, ‘The role of Irishmen in the war has been receiving more and more recognition recently. Before, people weren’t really able to talk about it.  I myself served in the British Army in the ‘60s and have been with the British Legion for 40 years – there are ex servicemen on every street in this city.’

But back to Killester. Dublin City Council said observations to the planning application were to be submitted by December 3 and a decision is due by December 24. What will happen is anyone’s guess.

Focail scoir: for a glimpse into the world of working-class Dublin men serving in the British Army, dip into Understanding social justice: Paddy Cardiff and the discipline of trade unionism, compiled and edited by Francis Devine.  Paddy Cardiff was an ex paratrooper who served in India who later became General Secretary of Larkin’s Workers’ Union of Ireland, who I remember  as a middle sized bespectacled man who ran a tight ship, could put the fear of God into young union officials, but as General Secretary was unstinting of support when things got tough.

Peter Rigney is Industrial Officer with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and co-author of The Parliament of Labour – a centenary history of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions.

Photograph: Patrick Hugh Lynch, via http://bronwenmaher.wordpress.com/.

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2 Responses to “More On Remembrance”

  1. puesoccurrences Says:

    Just to update you on this, Bronwen Maher’s blog contains some information on the current situation with Killester Legion Hall:

    http://bronwenmaher.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/legion-hall-killester-planning-victory/

    Kevin (with thanks to Peter for passing on the information)

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