Public asked to contribute to major exhibition on Limerick’s military history

Mike Dwane


Mike Dwane

A battalion from the Royal Munster Fusiliers pictured in Gibraltar in 1906, Many of the regiments 800 losses at Gallipoli were Limerick men
Why are running shoes known as “tackies” only in Limerick and South Africa?

Why are running shoes known as “tackies” only in Limerick and South Africa?

The answer, according to Jacqui Hayes, archivist with Limerick City and County Council, is to be found in Limerick’s military history and the men from the city and county who fought in the Boer War at the turn of the 20th century.

“Only in Limerick and South Africa are trainers or runners called tackies, a word brought back from Limerick men fighting in the Boer War where light shoes laced at the top were worn,” Ms Hayes explained.

And this “impact of the military in Limerick’s social life” - another being the spread of rugby from the barracks into the wider population - is but one aspect being explored in the appropriately named exhibition Stand Up And Fight later in the year, she said.

Limerick’s martial spirit is part of its DNA and even the city’s official motto, from Virgil’s Aeneid, translates roughly from the Latin as “an ancient city well-versed in the skills of war”.

With Ireland’s decade of centennial commemorations now in full swing, Limerick City and County Council will be marking Easter 1916 and the War of Independence in separate future events. Cross-party committees are being set up on how the events leading to independence can be appropriately marked.

Stand Up And Fight, meanwhile, will focus on Limerick’s long history of military engagements from the Williamite sieges at the end of the 17th century right up to the end of World War One. And of particular interest are conflicts overseas.

Supported by the Limerick Branch of the Royal British Legion, the Royal Munster Fusiliers Association and the Irish Naval Association, the exhibition will take place later in the spring to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign, in which around 800 of the Munsters died.

But this will be preceded by a roadshow at City Hall, Merchant’s Quay on Saturday, January 24 (from 12pm to 5pm).

Private collectors and members of the public are being asked to contribute to the exhibition and they can meet with military experts on the day to advise them on images, letters, stories, medals or any objects relating the experience of Limerick people at times of combat they may be willing to donate.

“While much of the exhibition will be concerned with the participation of Limerick men and women in the First World War, it will also deal with Limerick’s long military and naval tradition. From the departure of the Wild Geese in 1691 with Sarsfield to the dressing of international armies by Tait’s clothing factory Limerick’s history is intrinsically linked with military history,” said Ms Hayes.

“Among the exhibition themes will be the regiments that drew their recruits from Limerick; the campaigns in which Limerick soldiers fought such as the Napoleonic, Crimean and Boer Wars; barracks in Limerick; famous Limerick generals, such as Lords Gough and Clarina and Sir de Lacy Evans; and Limerick’s participation in the First World War. Limerick recruitment in other countries such as the USA, France and Australia will also be covered. The Limerick naval tradition, as exemplified by the connections between Coonagh and the British Navy will also feature.

“While primarily focusing on Limerick’s lengthy military history, the exhibition will also examine the impact of the military on Limerick’s social history in these centuries, such as the numbers who joined the armed forces; particular areas which had a tradition of recruitment; family military traditions and the role of women,” Ms Hayes said.

Commenting on the upcoming roadshow, she added: “We are particularly looking forward to meeting with people whose family members have links with Limerick’s military history.

“We are asking people to bring original material which will be scanned and photographed and catalogued on the day and returned to them. Military experts will also be available on the day to assist.”