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       Sligo Nationalist
       14 October 1916

      Ignoring the Irish

(My Mrs Margaret T. PENDER)

Oh, many a star-bright tale is told
Of deeds of glory and of gold,
Since this dread war has first begun
Its deathly strafe against the Hun;
And yet, the listening world has heard
From England’s Generals—not one word
Of the Irish at Gallipoli!

New Zealand’s hearts of fire were there
With Erin’s sons the fight to share;
And from Newfoundland’s misty shore
Came gallant lads, a handful more;
And not one soldier failed to play
A hero’s part that dreadful day
With the Irish at Gallipoli!

To take the railway and the height,
Where the fierce Turk had massed his might,
Ordered to land at Suvla Bay
Into the stress of hell went they—
Right through the utmost fires of hell,
By sea and shore in swathes they fell—
The Irish at Gallipoli!

But through they bust and on they tore;
Such valour ne’er was seen before!
On, foot by foot, and hour by hour,
They fought with superhuman power
For eight and forty hours–until
They took the railway and the hill,
The road to Stamboul opened fair
For Britain’s troops had they been there
With the Irish at Gallipoli!

Oh, few and red, the victors stood,
Grimy and glorious in their blood,
Gasping and faint, but holding still
The road to Stamboul and the hill.
Then dost a great shout near and far—
“The East is ours! We’ve won the war!”
Cried the Irish at Gallipoli!

But where were their supporters!–oh where?
We only know–they were not there!
Somewhere inert, aback they lay,
Nor ever faced that bloody fray.
By dullard generals thus was lost
The gorgeous East, won at such cost
By the Irish at Gallipoli!

And this is why, when tales are told
Of deeds of glory and of gold,
Since this dread war has first begun
Its deathly strafe against the Hun!
The listening world has never heard
From England’s generals EVEN ONE WORD
Of the Irish at Gallipoli!

              Sligo Nationalist
            25 November 1916

            KILLED IN ACTION

Yes, I am proud; I shall not weep, my son –
Boy of the high, brave spirit, who lies slain,
Blent with the earth-grown hallowed for the stain
Of thy young life-blood. Boy, who on my breast
Has lain, so small, so dear, in infant rest;
Whose tiny, clinging hands and nestling head
Seemed God and life to me - dear son, now dead,
Son of the strong young frame, the fearless heart,
Vibrant with life and thought, the coming man,
Shadowed in graver mood, the finished plan.
My mother love foresaw and knew content.
And when, all youthful fire and courage blent,
You said good-bye, I smiled (Oh, God! that day
Fear clutched my heart); I would not have you stay.
Boy! you have died as we would have you die.
Yes, I am proud, my son; I shall not weep,
But, ah! within the hours of broken sleep
I see your dear, loved form, your eyes, your hair,
And clench my arms to clasp and hold you there;
Then wake and know the glory you have won.
Yes, I am proud, indeed, but - Son, oh Son!


"Killed in Action" was written by Kathleen Ersom (1879-1966), who appears to have been an Australian poet. It was included in her volume "War Stanzas and Other Recent Verses" published in Melbourne in 1916.  The author name is given as Kathleen Chute-Ersom. The poem was also published in the New Zealand Observer on 13 January 1917, and in the Natal Witness, South Africa on April 9, 1918.

"To Ireland, Christmas 1916" was written by J F Cunningham, the Sligo-born London correspondent of the Sligo Nationalist. It expresses pride in the achievements of the Irish soldiers in the war and hopes that this will be recognised and will result in the implementation of Home Rule in the following year. The pre-Union Irish Parliament met in what became the Bank of Ireland in College green and it was expected that a Home Rule parliament would occupy the same building. This hope was a forlorn one at this stage, the 1916 rising and the subsequent executions, arrests and internments had changed the political landscape and the early months of 1917 were to see the consolidation of the political movement which became Sinn Féin and which replaced the Irish Party at the 1918 post-war general election.

J F Cunningham had been the London correspondent of the Sligo Champion since early 1915 but changed to the Sligo Nationalist in 1916. His first column in that newspaper was published in the issue of 25 November 1916. In it he wrote "I have always desired to write for the 'Nationalist', but my nephew, John P Scanlan, being a contributor, the next best thing was to write for the 'Champion'."

He went on to accuse the Champion of censorship in its reporting of public meetings. There was considerable rivalry and bad feeling between the newspapers at the time with the Nationalist attacking the Champion for its "lying criticism" of the scheme to establish a sanatorium near Collooney. More poems by J F Cunningham, including one for Christmas 1915, in the Sligo Champion 1915.

This advertisement was regularly included in the Sligo Nationalist in 1916.

This poem, "Ignoring the Irish", voices a concern which was not uncommon, that the expolits of Irish soldiers were not being given due recognition in accounts of the war especially in accounts in  the British press. This poem deals specifially with the Gallipoli campaign of 1915.

The stalemate on the Western Front in 1915 led the allies to consider the capture of Constantinople, now Istanbul, which would give a direct link to the Russian ally and the possibility of a successful eastern front campaign against Germany and its allies.

After a British Navy attempt to sail up the Dardanelles on 18 March 1915 failed, a land invasion was planned and the British and French attempted to land at Cape Hellas on 25 April. Royal Dublin, Munster and Inniskilling Fusiliers took part in this landing. A naval bombardment failed to neutralize the Turkish defences and gun emplacements on steep slopes. They went ashore at six locations but the Turkish defence held them close to the beaches and there were many casualties.

The Allies decided to launch a fresh attack on 6 August  against the Turks and chose Suvla Bay, 25 miles north of Cape Helles. The 10th (Irish) Division which contained the new service battalions of the Irish regiments took part. This attack
was also a failure.

The campaign was eventually abandoned and last of the troops were withdrawn in January 1916.
At least 3,411 serving with Irish battalions were killed or reported missing at the Gallipoli campaign.

Margaret T. Pender (1865-1920), born in
Ballytweedy, County Antrim, was a novelist and poet. She published stories and novels, mostly historical and dealing with Ulster’s resistance to English rule, many of which were serialized in the Irish, Irish-American and Irish-Australian press.

She was a
ctive in support of the nationalist cause and succeeded Alice Milligan as president of the Belfast branch of the Nationalist Association of Irishwomen and lectured frequently on Irish history to nationalist groups.

he Irish Film Company’s first film production, "O'Neill Of The Glen", was based on a  story by M T Pender. The production employed some members of the Abbey Theatre company and the film was released in 1916. It was directed by J M Kerrigan.      


      Sligo Nationalist
    30 December 1916


Land of heroes, Land of song,
Victim of the tyrant long;
Nursery of the leading race,
Of faith and love the resting place.
Though persecuted east and west
Never conquered or depressed;
Emerald gem of all the seas,
Your flag still flutters in the breeze,
For every man that you could spare
Are in the trenches “over there;”
And marshalled in their Irish might
They’ve shown all Europe how to fight.
And, having won undying fame,
Who can resist your Nation’s claim?
Perhaps before another Yule,
In College Green we’ll have Home Rule.



           Sligo Nationalist
          4 November 1916

                ON A NUN.

(Rosina of Kempton, a nurse at the Western front since the beginning of the war. In a battle near St Mihiel she carrier seven wounded soldiers from the firing line. She also saved an officer who was fast bleeding to death, and was herself struck by a bullet.—
Press despatch.)

The day was hot and the sun beat down
Like a million tongues of fire;
The wounded lay in bloody heaps,
Like broken bags of grain,
But one moved ’round like an angel bright
Through the blood and the stanch and the mire,
With water for the parched throats,
And prayers for the slain:
A woman, sworn to serve for Christ,
She braved the leaden rain.

The guns belched forth a stream of flame,
Till it seemed the jaws of hell
Oped wide upon the very earth
To gulp God’s creatures down.
Men dropped like grass from the mower’s scythe,
Died screaming as they fell,
And through the smoke the sunset turned
From red to a ghastly brown.
A nun worked hard for Christ that day
To win Love’s golden crown.

The winds of hate blew far and near,
As when mad lions roar;
The vengeful gases ebbed and flowed,
As Death held kingly sway,
A bullet struck nor halted her,
She seemed to work the more,
Calling on Christ to lend His aid,
And helping men to pray:
For Charity was in the look
And garb she wore that day.

Jeanne d’Arc of France, immortal, sleeps,
Greek Helen thrills the mind;
See! Dante’s Beatrice laughs at Time,
And Israel’s Ruth knows fame.
Yet here’s a woman man might sing
Till Time’s last link be twined,
Who soothed our humanity
When War’s fierce onslaught came,
Me thinks the gentle Christ Himself
Must love and bless her name.

J. C. Miller.

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