Recent debate and investigation into Irish participation in the British forces during the Great War is certainly unearthing some unexpected stories and experiences. Being then part of the United Kingdom, it was inevitable that Ireland would not and could not escape the effects of war.
As Alan King's detailed article of the 4th August pointed out, Castlebar urban councillor Alexander C. Larminie was to the fore in driving local recruitment for the British Army. In 1914, Larminie was the sole unionist representative sitting on Castlebar UDC. He had held that isolated position since the council's inception in 1900. It was therefore unsurprising that he would readily encourage recruitment for the war effort. Larminie's involvement in the Great War would become very personal when in 1917 his 18 year old son John joined the British Army.
At the outbreak of the Great War, Castlebar UDC was dominated by members of the nationalist United Irish League. The UIL was an offshoot of the Irish Parliamentary Party. A.C. Larminie's council colleagues included UIL member Michael C. Daly. Daly was a supporter of Irish Home Rule and cousin of UIL member and fellow Castlebar urban councillor James Daly, of Land League fame. With such nationalist credentials, it may have seemed unlikely that M.C. Daly would have any connection with the British Army. However, in 1916 his son Michael P. Daly volunteered for active service with the 6th Battalion of the Connaught Rangers. Michael junior was the town clerk of Castlebar UDC at the time. He returned to the council some years later as a councillor representing the Ex-Servicemen.
A.C. Larminie and M.C. Daly signatures in Castlebar UDC minute book.
It is difficult to know exactly what M.C. Daly's views were of his son's decision to join up or of his views on Irish involvement in the Great War in general. We do know that Irish Parliamentary Party members who were loyal to their party leader John Redmond, supported his stand on Irish voluntary participation in the British Army.
Although political opponents when debating the Irish Question, council colleagues A.C. Larminie of staunch unionist pedigree and M.C. Daly, a member of one of Castlebar's foremost nationalist families, would share the very human concern for their sons serving in the British Army during the Great War.