The Great War up close and personal

RTÉ star among those bringing family war souvenirs

RTÉ presenter Anne Cassin was among the many who brought family war souvenirs to the World War One Roadshow in Dublin yesterday.

The Nationwide presenter brought in the historical items originally owned by her grandfather, Lance Corporal John Cassin, who served as a telegraphist in the war. They include photos, a portrait of her grandfather, a paybook, a ration book and a German bayonette.

Ms Cassin will be showcasing her grandfather’s story on Nationwide during a week of special programmes beginning on July 28, commemorating the war and the Irish regiments that took part.

She was one of many who came from all over the country to attend the Trinity College roadshow yesterday.

The family memorabilia event, which was booked out in advance, let visitors show their souvenirs of the conflict to experts in order to learn more about the objects’ provenance. It also allowed the experts to archive and digitalise the war memorabilia so they can compile what will be the first online archive of World War I memorabilia in Europe.

The roadshow, held to commemorate the forthcoming centenary of the outbreak of war, was hosted by Trinity in partnership with RTÉ and the National Library of Ireland. As well as memorabilia, it also featured talks, cooking demonstrations and music.

Among the members of the public who turned up with their mementos was Dubliner Derrick Bunyan, 52, and his sister Lauren McDaid, 50, who showed the experts a pair of binoculars inherited from their grandfather, Captain James Gray, who fought in the 1916 Rising. Captain Gray, Lauren explained, had picked up the binoculars from a British Army officer.

After visiting Ypres last week to see the trenches, Eddie Staunton, 73, was at the Dublin roadshow as part of his efforts to find out more about his father’s experience of the Great War. His father, Charles Edward

Staunton, returned from his time at war bearing the medals that his son proudly showcased yesterday.

Eddie McGinley, 55, from Harold’s Cross in Dublin, attended with his son, Liam, hoping to find out more about the impressive sword that his wife’s grandfather, Stephen Arnold, brought back from the war. While the sword’s provenance remained a mystery, Eddie and Liam said they both enjoyed the event.

Denise Holland, 54, brought along the Mons Star medal her grandfather, William Gillen, was awarded during the war. Despite the disapproval of Denise’s greatuncle, who was an Irish rebel, Gillen had signed up ‘to fight the Huns’. On his return, he was forced to move to Galway as a result of the scorn poured on him in Dublin for serving in the British Army.