Ireland – Dalgan Park

Veteran Stories

>> Everybody, I am inside this gorgeous chapel, the sacred chapel of the Columban Fathers. It's in Dalgan Park which is about an hour away from Dublin. I am here with very ... three extremely special people. They are three Columban Fathers who served in Korea as missionaries for, three of them combined, more than 100 years because, Father O'Brien, you were there for how many years, 50? >> Fifty. >> Father O'Brien was there for 50 years. >> Twenty-five. >> Twenty-five and ... >> Fifty-seven years. >> Fifty-seven ... >> Fifty-seven, wow. >> ... years. He ... They ... Well, for sure, they lived in Korea longer than they lived in Ireland, so thank you so much for your service. So Columban Fathers were ... You tell us. When were they first in Korea? >> 1933. >> 1933, and, everybody, 1933 was still when Korea was under Japanese colonial rule. 1945, Korea was liberated, gained independence, but that's when there were two differing sides of two ... communism versus democracy, and as we all know, in 1950, June 25th, the Korean War broke out, and when the Korean War broke out, approximately how many Columban Fathers do you think were there at that time? >> Thirty. >> Thirty. >> Thirty. >> Twenty, 30. >> Well, yes, about 20, 30, and very sadly and tragically, seven who had an opportunity to flee chose to remain, right ... >> Yeah. >> ... and were very sadly killed and murdered, so here we are inside this chapel because they are here, memorialized here. Can you point them out? >> Monsignor Patrick Brennan here, Thomas Cusack, John O'Brien, Tony Collier, Patrick Reilly. >> So that's one, two, three, four, five. Oh, and maybe ... >> Two there. >> And there was James Maginn and Frank Canavan. Frank Canavan was taken North Korea and died in North Korea. >> Mm. >> He was taken up with two other Columban priests or three of them taken over the border up to North Korea. He died in North Korea, so his remains would still be in North Korea. >> Ooh! >> He was on the death march. >> Prisoner of war. >> He was a prisoner of war on the death march. >> Oh, but you said something ... >> [INAUDIBLE]. >> Oh, my god. Yes. They all [INAUDIBLE]. >> Death march. >> But [FOREIGN LANGUAGE]. >> [FOREIGN LANGUAGE] >> Oh, my. Actually ... Okay. You said something that really ... So you're right. Two of those who died in North Korea, their remains were never found. >> One. >> Just one. >> Just one. >> Just Frank Canavan. >> Frank Canavan. >> Those remains were never ... >> He was very young. >> His remains were never recovered. >> Very young. He was only 40. >> Oh, my. That breaks my heart because of the current situation between North and South Korea. There are at least ... Or there are still about 7,000 remains unaccounted for, okay, veterans unaccounted for in America, but Father James Maginn would be one of many across ... >> Also these are unaccounted for. They're buried in a common grave in Taejon ... >> Oh. >> ... those three ... >> They think they were ... >> ... one, two, three. >> ... marked in Taejon. >> Oh. >> And their bodies ... There's no graves. We don't know. >> In Taejon, we don't know where the graves. >> Oh, but the others, where are they buried? >> They're buried in Chuncheon. >> They're buried in Chuncheon. >> Oh, my god. >> We have them in Chuncheon. >> Chuncheon. >> [INAUDIBLE]. >> So they never really physically ... >> Found the bodies. >> ... made it. >> No. >> No, even ... They're not even buried in their homelands. >> That's right. >> Oh, no. >> Oh, no. Buried in Korea, Korea somewhere. >> That breaks my heart. That breaks my heart. Oh. Well, I am very glad I came to Dalgan Park on their behalf. Although it's not their hometown, I know they all left ... They were trained here, right? >> Mm-hmm. >> And they left from here and ordained, of course, from here, right? >> Yes, ma'am. >> And they were only 35 at the time when they went to Korea and ... >> And they died. >> They died. [ Chatter ] >> They could've left Korea. >> Thirty-five. >> They could've left Korea. >> So ... >> Less than 35. >> But they stayed in Korea. >> Yes. >> They stayed with the people. >> And that is actually many of the veteran stories. They didn't have to go. >> Mm-hmm. >> They didn't have to serve, yet they chose to, and I guess, in a very, very weird way, I completely understand because when I started doing this visiting veterans, honestly I thought I would do it once around the world, and that would be it. That would actually fulfill my promise to God and myself and to just this universe that I would do it, but the reason why I did it again across America, did it again across the Pacific and again now is because I choose to. I choose to. It's not even I feel obligated to. It's not even that anymore. It's I choose to because I want to, and I think all three of you as missionaries. What they said was ... because I thanked them for their service, and they said they actually gained more from serving than going there, so thank you so much to the three of you Fathers for your service to just the people of Korea and to this world, to take love, to spread message of hope and peace and love. So, everybody, wow. This is just only my second day, and I am just overwhelmed with so much, just so much emotion and gratitude, so thank you, everybody. Continue to follow me. Tomorrow is a big day also at the [INAUDIBLE] Peace Park. Thank you. Bye. >> Thank you. >> Thank you very much.

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    Memorial Site

    Ireland, unlike Northern Ireland, was not part of the United Kingdom and not among the United Nations countries that contributed in the Korean War. However, many Irish men who immigrated to the United States volunteered to fight in Korea.

    While there is no accurate count of the total number of Irishmen who fought in the war among the British and U.N. forces, there were 159 Irish casualties, including 21 Irish immigrants who fought in the U.S. Armed Forces. Seven Irish Columban priests and an Anglican nun, Sister Mary Clare Witty, also died during the conflict.

    The memorial in Dalgan Park, home of the Missionary Society of St. Columban in the outskirts of Dublin, honors the seven Columban priests who served and died in Korea during the war as missionaries.