More than 1,400 soldiers from County Tipperary were killed in action during WWI, as part of a 250,000 strong force who fought on the British side in Gallipoli, the Somme, and Flanders Fields, said Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Charlie Flanagan, at Sunday’s Peace Prize ceremony.
Mr Flanagan made particular reference to an account given in the Tipperary Star at the time of the calamity. “I read most recently a vivid and poignant account in the Tipperary Star of the 30th of July, 1915, when the Tipperary Chaplain, the Reverend John Fahey, spoke in moving terms of his experience of war and strife in Gallipoli. Fr John Fahey was one of the many who fought in Gallipoli and Flanders in the cause of small nations.” The most famous song to come out of the First World War is of course “It’s a long way to Tipperary”.
“This song is still associated with soldiers marching off to the horrors fo the Western Front. I understand that the original organisers of this Prize felt very strongly that they would like Tipperary to be associated with peace rather than war, and conceived the idea of the Tipperary Peace Convention. I would like to pay tribute to their foresight and vision.” Mr Flanagan told UN Sec. General Mr Ban Ki Moon that Ireland is “in the midst of a decade of commemorations on this island, and as we remember our own struggle for liberation we also participate in events to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War. There are no doubt people here in this room whose great grandfathers and great uncles fought and died in many of those terrible battles. It was from these ashes of old Europe that many newly independent countries like Ireland were taking their place for the first time, and the League of Nations emerged. That effort sadly failed. But the seeds it sowed came to fruition after yet another terrible conflict and it is such a great honour and pleasure to have you, the eighth Secretary General of the United Nations here in Tipperary to accept this award.”