World War I soldier made of scrap is on his way to Dublin
Project f inds 40,000 Irish veterans who volunteered
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