Dawn Service, Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin 25/4/2017

This annual Dawn Service in Dublin is organised by the Australian Embassy in Dublin.

The ceremony is conducted in a cemetery which is located in a quiet suburb in North Dublin which is located just outside the Phoenix Park. I have had the honour of representing the Gallipoli Association at this event for the last eight year.

Within the walls of the cemetery there are many graves of service personnel who died during the Great War. Some are Gallipoli veterans and there are graves of Anzac’s and members of the NZEF who died on 10 October 1918 when the RMS Leinster was torpedoed in the Irish Sea.

The ceremony attracts people from all over the North and South of Ireland and indeed from all over the world. The attendees represent Diplomatic missions, Ex service associations, Remembrance Association and most especially ancestors of Great War Veterans who wish to commemorate their family members. Numbers have been increasing over the years and average now about 300.

The location of the cemetery adds to the sense of remembrance. The tree filled cemetery (in all weathers) is a tranquil and moving location.

This year the weather was kind to us. The morning was a beautiful bright, dry and crisp spring morning. Bird song filled the air as the dawn rose.

The service was officiated by the Head Chaplain of the Irish Defence Forces, Fr. Séamus Madigan (Fr. Madigan is based in Mckee Barracks which is just across the road from the cemetery and has officiated at the service for the last three years).

The service was opened by the Australian Ambassador. Representatives of the Australian Military and New Zealand Defence Forces recited various verses. Other verses were read by the representative of the New Zealand Embassy in London and Attaturk’s words were read by a representative from the Turkish Embassy.

It is usual for a speaker to give a short speech about the relevance of the campaign to our times. This year the talk was given by Professor Jeff Kildea an historian, lecturer and author with a PhD in history from the University of New South Wales. In 2014 he was the Keith Cameron Professor of Australian History at University College Dublin. Professor Kildea has written several articles and a book on the Irish involvement in the Australian and New Zealand forces during the Great War.

During the service the prayers and recitations were interspersed with hymns led by a singer/harpist. The soft sound of the singer and her harp accompanied in the background by bird song can be very moving.

The last Post and Reveille was sounded by a bugler drawn from the Army No 1. Band Defence Force School of Music, Irish Defence Forces.

I had the honour once again to lay a wreath on behalf of our association.

The service was followed by a breakfast which included Anzac biscuits and breakfast rolls. Breakfast gave the opportunity to make new connections, renew old ones and to hear family stories of lost ancestors or tales of those who returned to an Ireland different from the one they left.

 The CWGC information on the cemetery may be viewed here


(Photos to follow)