Introductory message by former President François Hollande on the inauguration of the France-Ireland Memorial [fr]
Introduction of the France-Ireland memorial by the President of the French Republic François Hollande
Today, France and Ireland have come together to remember the blood they shed side by side for freedom. The monument we are inaugurating symbolizes the shared memory between our two countries and bears witness to the tribute France pays to the Irish people who sacrificed themselves for her.
We recall this brotherhood-in-arms shared by our elders in the wars of the last century, today, on the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, which we commemorated by paying homage to the more than 200,000 Irish people from across the globe who fought in the Great War.
It is a source of pride for France to come and inaugurate a monument offered to its Irish friends in memory of the sacrifice of their sons and daughters. This work, commissioned from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, is the result of an artistic effort of remembrance by young students, who have become channels of memory between France and Ireland, in keeping with Marshal Foch’s desire that “the generations that come after us shall never forget the heroic dead of Ireland”.
It also reflects the French Defence Ministry’s desire, in the name of national heritage, to set in stone France’s message of gratitude and friendship to its allies and friends of yesterday and today.
I was keen for this ceremony to take place on Remembrance Sunday, the day when Irish people come together. In France, 11 November – the day of homage to all those who died for France – is also an opportunity to think about everyone who came from across the globe to fight on our soil.
Today, around this monument, we send our Irish friends a message of heartfelt thanks and everlasting remembrance.