DUBLIN (Reuters) – Defaced and deserted for decades, Dublin’s World War One memorial garden now marks the rehabilitation of at least 200,000 Irishmen who fought for Britain a century ago – a transformation that angers some.
The dispute has come to a head as Ireland starts to celebrate some seminal centenaries, from the call by moderate nationalists to fight in the war in September 1914 to the anti-British uprising two years later.
Independent Ireland is on better terms with London than most could have foreseen in 1918.
A generation of shattered Irish men returned then to a mixture of indifference and hostility as their nation fought for independence, making tales of their sacrifice for Britain taboo for the rest of their lives.
But stories of their heroics, wretched suffering and an estimated 30,000 deaths flooded the Irish airwaves last month and memorial ceremonies featuring the president and prime minister have been enthusiastically covered by the media.
One former Irish prime minister went as far as to say that the wartime 1916 uprising against British rule – as revered as the Battle of Lexington in the United States – was “a mistake” and that Irish patriots should have supported Britain’s war.
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