World War I sol­dier made of scrap is on his way to Dublin

Project f inds 40,000 Ir­ish vet­er­ans who vol­un­teered

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT - By Ni­cola Byrne See world­war1vet­er­ans.com for fur­ther de­tails. Names of those who re­turned can be emailed to con­tact@world­war1vet­er­ans.com. ni­cola.byrne@mailon­sun­day.ie

A GI­ANT dra­matic statue of a First World War sol­dier made of scrap metal will stand in St Stephen’s Green in the cap­i­tal in mem­ory of the Ir­ish who fought in that war.

The Haunted Sol­dier is made en­tirely from scrap and stands over six me­tres tall. It will be moved from its Eng­lish home in Devon over the next few weeks to be un­veiled at a cer­e­mony in the park on Sun­day, Novem­ber 4.

Sabina Pur­cell, a so­lic­i­tor who was in­spired by her grand-aunt’s story of vol­un­teer­ing in the war, is re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing the sculp­ture to her home­town.

With a grant from the Depart­ment of Arts and Her­itage as well as spon­sor­ship, she has ar­ranged to have the sol­dier brought here for three weeks to re­mind peo­ple of the sac­ri­fice made by so many 100 years ago.

The ghostly fig­ure is made from all man­ner of scrap, in­clud­ing span­ners, car jacks, brake discs and horse shoes.

It’s the cre­ation of black­smith and artist Martin Gal­bavy from Slo­vakia, who took three months to cre­ate the sol­dier at the Dorset Forge and Fab­ri­ca­tion Cen­tre.

Ms Pur­cell’s in­ter­est in the First World War was piqued by the story of her grand-aunt, who vol­un­teered to nurse in The Queen Alexan­dra Im­pe­rial Nurs­ing Ser­vice.

Af­ter vis­it­ing the War Me­mo­rial Gar­dens in Is­land­bridge in Dublin in 2011, Ms Pur­cell be­gan look­ing for a list of those who had re­turned from the war and was sur­prised that one did not ex­ist.

Within weeks, she had started com­pil­ing her own list, think­ing she would do well to col­lect a few thou­sand names.

Seven years on and her data­base of men and women who took part now con­tains more than 40,000 names. She says she can’t be­lieve how quickly it has grown.

‘I’m thrilled and I don’t know if I’d ever imag­ined we’d get to this num­ber.

‘The num­bers of Ir­ish who took part are prob­a­bly be­tween 150,000 and 180,000 but the key thing is, they were never doc­u­mented, never spo­ken about re­ally af­ter the event.

‘I wanted to put that right with this list and peo­ple whose fam­i­lies were there are de­lighted.’

Among them is Emer McCarthy, whose grand­fa­ther Tim Hearns, from Cas­tle­d­er­mot, Co. Kil­dare, was just a teenager when he en­listed.

She says her grand­fa­ther was her hero and she is de­lighted that he and all the thou­sands like him are be­ing re­mem­bered.

She said: ‘My mam, Olive, was his only child and you can imag­ine she adored her dad, who had a won­der­ful sense of hu­mour, although the war took its toll.’

‘They were never spo­ken about af­ter the event’

ghostly: The Haunted Sol­dier statue is bound for St Stephen’s Green in Dublin

mem­ory: Emer McCarthy, whose grand­fa­ther en­listed as a teenager

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