Google and Irish Govt create online archive of Ireland’s WWI dead

10 Jan 2014

An archive that lists the 49,000 soldiers from the island of Ireland who died during the First World War has gone live; the result of a collaboration between Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Google, and the In Flanders Fields Museum in Belgium.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said the digitisation of the records will provide a rich resource for genealogy.

“Most significant is its value in remembering the individuals, Irish men and women, who lost their lives in the First World War,” Gilmore said.

The records, first published in 1923, can be searched by name, place of birth, rank, regiment, service number, date of death, and what other information is known.

Ireland’s Ambassador to Belgium Eamonn MacAodha worked closely with Google, In Flanders Fields Museum and heritage company Eneclann to digitise available information on the casualty list.

Technology as a force for good

The head of Ireland John Herlihy said the project is an example of technology being used as a force for good, making information accessible and easily available.

“Commemoration is about sharing human experiences and fates, and reflecting on them,” said Piet Chielens, co-ordinator of the In Flanders Fields Museum. “This online commemoration allows people from all over the world to connect with a shared past.”

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said more than 200,000 Irishmen fought in the First World War and more than 49,000 of these never returned home.

“It is important all their personal stories are told and this innovative project ensures the memory of those Irish soldiers killed will continue,” McGuinness said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years