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French tribute to 16th Irish Division war effort unveiled in Dublin

The French-Irish war memorial in Glasnevin Cemetery features a replica of the original wooden Gincy Cross. Picture by Heather Humphreys, Twitter  
Gareth McKeown

A FRENCH tribute to the sacrifice of Irish soldiers in the first World War has been unveiled at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

French Minister of State for Veteran Affairs and Remembrance, Jean-Marc Todeschini was in Ireland on Sunday for a special dedication ceremony of the France-Ireland memorial and was joined by Irish Arts Minister Heather Humphreys.

The monument, created specially by the Paris Fine Arts School - has been gifted to the Irish people by France, in recognition of the solidarity and the sacrifice made by those on the island of Ireland in the defence and freedom of France, particularly during the First World War.

Part of the memorial is a replica of the original wooden Gincy Cross, now housed in the War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge in Dublin.

The cross was built by the men of the largely Catholic 16th Irish Division for the churchyard at Ginchy, following the events there and at Guillemont in September 1916, when 1,200 men from the Division lost their lives.

It also features a tribute from French Allied general Marshal Ferdinand Foch.

The monument in Glasnevin has the final two paragraphs of Foch's tribute, etched in stone at its base.

Minister Humphreys said the memorial was a "very significant gesture" from the French government.

“This cross will stand as a symbol of Irish wartime service in France," she said.

"The 16th included men from right across the island of Ireland, meaning that communities in every province were impacted by those events during the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago," she added.

Minister Todeschini added: “The memorial is meant to be a lasting tribute from France and the French people to all Irish from all the island of Ireland and beyond who constantly have expressed their solidarity and their commitment - even unto the supreme sacrifice to the values and the freedom of France: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité."

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