Lemass Family Donate WW1 Artifacts

The family of Former Taoiseach Sean Lemass will donate a collection of documents relating to the First World War at Dublin City Library and Archive, tomorrow Wednesday 16 May 2012 at 10.30am. The donation of artifacts will be accepted on behalf of Dublin City by Deputy Lord Mayor Maria Parodi.

Second cousins of Sean Lemass, Second Lieutenant Herbert Justin Lemass and Lieutenant Edwin Stephen Lemass were just 19 and 21 when service with the British army on the trenches of the Western Front. At just 17 Sean Lemass was fighting the British in the General Post Office during the 1916 Rising.

Sean Lemass served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 1959 until 1966, and on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Easter Rising he was the first 1916 leader to make a positive statement about Irishmen who fought in the World War I:

‘In later years it was common - and I was also guilty in this respect - to question the motives of those who joined the new British armies at the outbreak of the war, but it must in their honour and in fairness to their memory, be said, that they were motivated by the highest purpose.'

The Deputy Lord Mayor commented: ‘I am very pleased to accept this important collection on behalf of the people of Dublin. It is a timely reminder that in many Irish families their young men fought in the First World War and in the 1916 Rising, with patriotic intentions on both sides. We are grateful to the Lemass Family for this gift to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association Archive, which is held at Dublin City Library & Archive.’