Eleventh Hour of Eleventh Day


These lines from the well-known song “The Green Fields of France” capture well the futility of war.

“Well, young Willie McBride
I can’t help wonder why
do all those who lie here
know why did they die
and did the really believe
when the answered the call
did they really believe
that this war would end wars?

Well the sorrow the suffering
the glory, the pain
the killing and dying
were all done in vain
for young Willie McBride
it all happened again
and again and again
and again again …..”

This weekend we mark the 100th Anniversary of the ending of World War 1, when an Armistice was signed, bringing the conflict to a conclusion at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

On Sunday the church bells of Kilmovee, Urlaur, Glann and Kilkelly will ring out, in unison, with the church and public bells across Ireland and beyond in commemoration of that day.  The hope is the bells will sound eleven times, calling us to remember and, hopefully, bow our heads and raise our hearts in prayer for peace.

In this weekend’s Parish Bulletin, there will be seventeen names listed of soldiers from the parish who died during World War 1.  It is certain there are more than that but these are the only names that are to hand.  If others surface, we will remember them too and possibly include them in our Bereavement Remembrance Service on November 25th in Kilmovee Parish Church.

A former parish priest of the parish, Canon Felix Burke (buried beside Kilmovee Parish Church) was a chaplain during the war.  Some months ago, I had Mass here with his family who wished to remember him and his sister (a nurse who also served during the war).  It was a very special occasion and it was good to see Fr Felix remembered by his own family.

His nephew shared a story at the end of Mass that his uncle had told them.  He was hearing confessions on the battlefield and a young soldier asked where he was from “From County Sligo”, Felix said.  “So am I”, the soldier replied and it turned out they were from neighbouring parishes.  Both survived and kept in contact through the years. There are real people behind all these statistics that are being quoted these days.

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