A €2 million military project on lands at Starinagh, Collon, has been described as ‘a great contribution to military history in Ireland’
Work on the 20 acre Irish Military War Museum will commence shortly and feature a ‘living’ museum with tearooms and a playground initially, before adding WWI trenches, an obstacle course and numerous other attractions over the next five years.
Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD, turned the sod on the complex, beside Teach Raithneach, last Thursday and lauded the man behind the project, William Sullivan.
‘It is very important to recognise those who fought and died for small nations.
‘We have to remember 50,000 Irish people died in WWI,’ he said.
He also told of the sacrifice of a local man in the conflict, James Samuel Emerson from Collon who won a VC for bravery.
William Sullivan said the museum would introduce ‘hands on history’ to young people.
‘We’ll have a people carrier that people can get into and touch. Some museums say ‘Don’t Touch’ but we want people to experience them. The Germans couldn’t blow this thing up so I don’t think a nine year old is going to break it!’
There are plans to include items on the history curriculum, such as the likes of Anne Frank and the Holocaust, the Cold War and war time politicians.
‘Kids can come here and wear the uniforms of that time while older people will have stories of family members who fought in the wars. Those should be told too,’ he added.
The likes of Ronan Caffrey, another military enthusiast, was also thanked for his input while a team from DkIT worked on the marketing for the whole thing, a factor warmly recognised by Sean Colins, who also spoke on the day.
The Irish Military Park is a project designed over a five-year plan, the first stage of which will see a museum built to house and display Mr. Sullivan’s vast collection. This is scheduled to open in April 2014.
Chairman of the Slane Area committee Cllr. Wayne Harding wished William every success in the fantastic venture.
‘It is as ambitious a rural tourism project as can be undertaken and will be of enormous benefit to the local area. There is huge interest in military history in Ireland and I could see it attracting visitors from both sides of our border,’ he remarked.