One of the most requested set of books at St Columb’s Cathedral, the Memorial Records 1914-1918, are not just of historic importance, they are also artistic masterpieces.
It was after WWI, on July 17, 1919 in fact, that the National War Memorial Fund (later called Committee) was formed to create a suitable memorial to the men and women who lost their lives in the conflict who were specifically from all 32 counties of Ireland.
Originally there were 100 copies of the records, but only 35 sets can now be traced, one of which is housed in the Cathedral and on display in the Chapter House. The records are available for consultation by anyone who wishes to obtain information about relatives who were killed in the War.
Despite their popularity with researchers, it is a little known fact that they were compiled under the chairmanship of the Earl of Ypres, John French, and each of the eight volumes in the set contain 3,177 pages containing over 49,600 names, alphabetically listed.
A mammoth task, the records went into print four years later, in 1923, specifically for distribution among libraries, churches and in various disparate organisation in Ireland as well as elsewhere in the world.
The printing, decorating and binding of the volumes was done by famous Irish artists, and the records were printed on hand-made paper by Maunsel and Roberts in Dublin. Some of the volumes were cased in grey paper boards with a linen spine, while others were more ‘finished’ in appearance, with a hard coloured cover. Quite why, no one knows.