Newry Museum to highlight local First World War graves

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Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
Community, What's On
At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. Both Nationalist and Unionist leaders initially supported the war and men of the north and south, from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds, enlisted. It is believed that 210,000 Irishmen served in the British forces during the First World War, while many others of Irish descent served with the forces of other Commonwealth nations or those of America. An estimated 50,000 Irishmen died in the war. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has the task of maintaining the graves of the 1,700,000 Commonwealth men and women who died during the two world wars. It also holds, and updates, an extensive and accessible records archive which is available online at The Commission cares for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations in 153 countries across the world. While its work in the countries that saw the worst of the fighting is well known, it is less commonly recognised that of the 23,000 cemeteries and burial plots over half are to be found in the United Kingdom. Across the island of Ireland there are more than 5,500 Commonwealth war dead buried or commemorated at more than 1,000 burial grounds or churchyards. Within the parliamentary constituency of Newry and Mourne there are 93 Commonwealth Graves (63 for the First World War and 30 for the Second World War) which are spread across 37 sites and in the South Down parliamentary constituency there are 81 graves (48 for the First World War and 33 for the Second World War) spread across 41 sites. Over the summer Newry and Mourne Museum commissioned local photographer Christina Joyce to photograph war memorials, headstones and rolls of honour in the Newry and Mourne area. During November 2014 Newry and Mourne Museum will be posting onto its Facebook page information on the 32 First World War graves located in the Newry and Mourne District Council area, as well as three with Newry connections buried in Poyntzpass. The postings will highlight the personal stories of these individuals, their backgrounds, who they were, where they were from and how they died. Many died in military hospitals whilst being treated for their wounds, while others were victims of the flu pandemic that developed as the conflict drew to a close. The graves reflect both the local impact of the war, as well as its historical significance. They are located in a mixture of Catholic, Church of Ireland and Presbyterian graveyards. To view the postings visit the Museum’s Facebook page at, where you can also keep up-to-date with the progress of the Museum’s Heritage Lottery Funded First World War Project and other events and activities happening at the Museum. As it is a public page you do not need to be a member of Facebook to view the postings. Newry and Mourne Museum is free to visit and is open 7 days a week (Monday-Saturday 10am-4:30 pm and Sunday 1:30pm-5pm). Its current temporary exhibition on the “Local Impacts of the First World War” will be on display until May 2015.
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