Roll of Honour Acknowledging Ireland’s Contribution in World War II Presented to TCD Library

Posted on: 16 June 2009

Les Dés Sont Sur Le Tapis: Ireland in World War II  

A Roll of Honour listing the 7,507 Irish men and women who died while serving in the British, Commonwealth and Dominion Forces during World War II was presented to the Trinity College library on Friday, June 12th last, by Dr Yvonne McEwan of the University of Edinburgh.  The inter-university conference entitled, Les dés sont sur le tapis: Ireland in World War II, was organised by the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies’ Department of French and is the second in a series which considers the role of the Irish in the liberation of France during World War II.

The Roll of Honour was compiled by Dr McEwan, an Honorary Fellow of the University of Edinburgh, and illustrates how Irish men and women served across a range of almost 200 branches of the British Armed Services.  The list details the 3,617 people from the Republic of Ireland and the 3,890 from Northern Ireland who died on active service during the Second World War.  These previously unpublished findings highlight Ireland’s role in World War II despite the country’s policy of neutrality and act as a major step in portraying the full picture of Ireland’s contribution to the Second World War. 

Speakers at the conference included Dr McEwen who presented the Irish contribution to the Allied war effort in a paper entitled ‘Waking the Dead: Researching and Compiling Ireland’s War Dead in World War II’.  Dr Gerald Morgan of the School of English in TCD presented the names of those attached to the College who died in the conflict in his paper entitled ‘Trinity College Dublin War Dead 1939-1945’.  Journalist and historian Kevin Myers chaired the colloquium and spoke about commemoration and the role of the Irish in both World Wars. 

Commenting on the Irish involvement in the Second World War Dr McEwan said: “This is a historical enquiry which needed to be undertaken to help tell the story of the significant role of the Irish volunteers which, to date, has largely been untold.  There is a moral imperative to record the major contribution of those Irish men and women who served and died.”  It is estimated that up to 100,000 men and women from the island of Ireland served in the British Army alone. 

The colloquium concluded with an official presentation of the Roll of Honour, accepted on behalf of the Trinity College Library by Trevor Peare, Keeper of Readers’ Services.  The Roll, bound in leather, will be housed in Trinity College and accessible for research purposes.