Thursday, we went to the War Memorial of Korea for a commemoration of “those of Irish birth and heritage who fought and died in the service of the United Nations and those civilians of Irish birth and heritage who died side by side with the Korean people – Korea 1950-1953”, as it says on the Irish memorial at the War Memorial of Korea. Above, you see Frances Fitzgerald, Irish Minister for Children & Youth Affairs laying a wreath at the Irish memorial.
Minister Park, the Minister for Patriots’ and Veterans’ Affairs, represented the Korean Government, and laid a wreath. The third wreath, for the Irish civilians who died in the war, was laid by Father Sean Conneally. The Minister laid a wreath on Members of the British, Australian & New Zealand military (from their respective diplomatic missions here) also attended.
There were two readings, first “The Korean Lament” by Mark McConnell, an Irish veteran of the Korean War, read by Aingeal O’Donoghue, Ambassador of Ireland, and then “The Exhortation”, read by Oliver Cunningham, an Irish-born US Army colonel (retired). See below for video clips.
The War Memorial of Korea includes a large museum about the war, which is very well laid out and quite interesting. I haven’t been through the whole thing, but did go through much of it when we visited the “Happy Valley” battle site with the Irish Association of Korea, on a tour led by Andrew Salmon last autumn.
The Royal Irish Rifles suffered very heavy casualties at Happy Valley on 4 Jan 1951, delaying the advancing North Korean troops while Seoul was evacuated. In Korea, it’s known as the battle of “1.4”. The battle was fought over quite a stretch of land, and Aingeal laid a wreath and said a few words at a site where the battle really began. (Thanks again to Andrew Salmon.)
Here are the video clips of the two readings mentioned above: