’45 for Valour’ Now Exhibiting at Bishop’s Palace

’45 for Valour’ exhibition which was hosted by the Limerick Museum during November has now transferred to Bishop’s Palace, the headquarters of Limerick Civic Trust.

Trish Taylor Thompson’s seminal work ’45 for Valour’ honours the forty-five soldiers of Irish descent who were awarded the Victoria Cross for their bravery and heroism during the Great War. A graduate of LSAD, Trish Taylor Thompson’s practice is influenced by the symbolism of botanicals. Through the motif of the common poppy, she explores the importance of remembering. Themes of commemoration and memorial are at the heart of this important work that has stimulated dialogue in addressing the controversy around the wearing of the poppy in Ireland. The forty-five paintings, oil on linen, are a memorial to the soldiers who risked their lives fighting with extraordinary valour and selflessness during wartime. ’45 for Valour’ marks the anniversary of the beginning and the end of World War I.


There is also a Limerick connection. Although the majority of the forty-five soldiers were awarded their medals posthumously, two of the Victoria Cross recipients include Limerick born stretcher-bearer Private Michael James O’Rourke who survived the war and died on 6th December 1957 at the age of sixty-nine. Private Henry Edward Kenny was born to Limerick parents in England and died on 6th May 1979 at the age of ninety.


The American humanitarian and educator Moina Michael first introduced the idea of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance by selling silk poppies as a means of raising funds for Veterans of War in the United States following their homecoming from WW1. In 1921, her efforts resulted in the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans by the American Legion Auxiliary, and by Earl Haig‘s British Legion Appeal Fund (later the Royal British Legion) later that year.


For further information about the artist visit www.trishtaylorthompson.com

Paving Stone to Honour Limerick WW1 Hero

A special paving stone will be laid in Limerick to commemorate Michael James O’Rourke, a Limerick man who received a Victoria Cross for his efforts in World War 1.  Limerick Civic Trust presented the VC Paver to the Mayor [today] at a special reception in St Munchin’s Church, King’s Island just a few days in advance of the centenary of Armistice Day.

Private Michael James O’Rourke, who in his early adult life moved to British Columbia, Canada, was awarded the Victoria Cross and Military Medal for extreme acts of valour whilst serving with the Columbian Regiment, Canadian Infantry in WW1.

A quote from his VC Citation states:

“During the period 15/17 August 1917 at Hill 70 near Lens, France, Private O’Rourke, who was a stretcher bearer, worked unceasingly for three days and nights bringing in the wounded, dressing their wounds and bringing them food and water. During the whole of this period the area in which he worked was swept by heavy machine-gun and rifle fire and on several occasions, he was knocked down and partially buried by enemy shells. His courage and devotion carrying out his rescue work in spite of exhaustion and incessant heavy fire inspired all ranks and undoubtedly saved many lives.”

Unlike many holders of the VC, Michael survived the war and settled in Vancouver British Columbia.

Over the last four years, the specially-commissioned stones have been laid at the birth places of Victoria Cross recipients. Every Irish-born soldier who won a Victoria Cross in the First World War is to have a paving stone erected in their honour. Michael was the only recipient from Limerick.

The VC Paver was officially received into the City by The Mayor of Limerick City and Council, Cllr James Collins, followed by a Dedication Ceremony and Act of Remembrance.  The official reception, hosted by Limerick Civic Trust, was attended by members of the 12th Battalion from Sarsfield Barracks, the Limerick branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) and representatives from Limerick City and County Council.

David O’Brien, Limerick Civic Trust, said, “I would like to acknowledge the trojan efforts of Brian Duffy, Chairman of the RBL for ensuring the delivery of the VC Paver. Michael O’Rourke was an extraordinary man who displayed incredible courage and bravery in a war that has affected all our lives today.  The sacrifice he made deserves to be honoured and it is only fitting to have a VC Paver installed in the hometown of his birth and upbringing so he can be remembered.

The Mayor of Limerick, James Collins, said, “It is an honour to pay tribute to the bravery and valour of Michael O’Rourke and at the same time recognise how the war impacted him afterwards. It is important that we recognise our history in Limerick. Sometimes, we’re so busy looking forward, we forget to look back at how we got here. We forget those who have gone before us, the sacrifices they’ve made and their bravery.  I would like to congratulate the Royal British Legion for securing the paver. It is an honour he richly deserves.”

The location of where the VC Paver will be laid has yet to be decided.

Photographs of the reception can be found here

More details about Michael James O’Rourke can be found here