I wrote this a guest post for the wonderful Karen O’Rawe at the Castleton Lanterns blog
Mapping Limerick’s Casualties during World War One
Guest post: Liam Hogan – Limerick City Library
Website Address: limerickww1.wordpress.com
As part of Limerick City Library’s strategy to improve access to local history resources through digitisation, I launched a Twitter account which tracked life in Limerick 100 years ago (@Limerick1914). As WW1 approached I asked the question, how will I communicate the scale of Limerick’s loss during World War One? This was one of the most traumatic events in Limerick’s history since the Great Famine. Over 1,000 violent deaths, the vast majority occurring out of sight of relatives and friends. I have sought to visually represent the scale of the death toll through a series of interactive maps. I predict the extent of the death toll will shock many people in Limerick. This part of our history has been submerged for so long, that some families may not even be aware that their relatives died during this conflict.
When I told my father I was working on this project, he suddenly revealed, for the first time, that one of my great-granduncles had died during the war. He did not have any details apart from his name. Michael Maher. After some research I discovered that Michael was from a working class family and toiled as a quarry man near Portroe, Co. Tipperary. He was unmarried at 28 and according to the census, semi-literate. He enlisted with the 1st Battalion Connaught Rangers in Killaloe, Co. Clare. Private Michael Maher died on the 11th July 1917 and is commemorated at the Basra Memorial in Iraq. In contrast to Michael’s absence from family memory, and representative of the arc of modern Irish history, my other granduncle, Frank McGrath takes centre stage. A Gaelic revivalist, from a middle class background, a member of the IRB and a decorated hurler and Irish dancer, Frank was Commandant of North Tipperary Brigade of the IRA during the War of Independence.
Commemoration: This map shows the location where each Limerick casualty is commemorated. Click on the placemark to identify the casualty. Each placemark is colour coded by age. I have generated individual GPS coordinates for every casualty. These coordinates are not the exact location of their plaque but are instead close to the commemoration site, giving each its own space.
Extra Features: We have also included a list and scans of the WW1 Obituaries that appeared in the Limerick Chronicle, links to the service records of the hundreds of Limerick men who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), links to various WW1 articles, heat maps, as well as presenting the source data (including links to the CWGC records and Wills of each casualty where available) that we used to create the various maps, and much more.