Wexford man led Queen on tour of war memorial

'I WAS absolutely privileged to be there,' said Major General David O'Morchoe from Tara Hill, Gorey, who spoke at length to the Queen during her visit to the Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge last Wednesday.

As president of the British Legion in the Republic, and chairman of the management committee of the War Memorial Gardens, David has put in many hours over many years, bringing back the memory of the 49,400 Irish who were killed in the First World War. ' They had been swept under the carpet since the formation of the state,' he said. One of the book rooms in the gardens contains all the names of all the Irish who died in the First World War, and in another there hangs a cross from the Battle of the Somme. David gave the Queen a guided tour. 'She was extremely interested,' he said. 'She had obviously been briefed about the gardens. She knew they had gotten into a state of disrepair, and she asked me about that.

'It was part of the amnesia of the island in relation to remembering the dead of the First World War, but I said that we were all very proud of the way it had been restored, and that she had come to lay a wreath in memory of those men on that day.'

David, who is originally from south Wexford, met the Queen on several occasions during his military career with the British army, before he retired in 1979. He also received a private invitation to attend a lunch party at Buckingham Palace in October 2008, and sat beside her at lunch. 'I mentioned to her during our conversation that we were looking forward to seeing her in Ireland at some time, and her reply was that the time was not quite right then,' he said. ' The fact that the Queen and the President were together at the War Memorial Gardens, remembering the war dead, put a big exclamation mark behind all our efforts to revive the memory of all the Irish who died in World War I,' he concluded, ' and I was absolutely honoured after all I had done to encourage that, to play a part in showing her the gardens, and the memorial books.'

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