An article on the Friends' School website gives details of over 900 men and women from the Lisburn area who died in the Great War 1914-1919. Compiled by Friends' School Economics and History teacher Pat Geary, the article is subdivided into two main sections - database and casualty list. The database records the basic details including name, place of birth, address, place and date of death, age and place of burial or commemoration while the casualty list gives a short biography of each casualty.
Pat's information about these people has come from a number of sources including the War Memorials in Lisburn, Hilden and Hillsborough; Church memorials, Friends'; the Orange Hall in Glenavy; and from the headstones of bereaved parents and relatives as well as some of the casualties themselves in graveyards throughout the length and breadth of Lisburn City Council area. Other sources of information were: the headstones of the soldiers themselves in France and Belgium, the War Office casualty lists entitled 'Soldiers Died in the Great War', Irelands Memorial Record published by the Irish National War Memorial Trust and records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission which is accessible on the Internet. More personal details have sometimes been available from attestation papers stored in the Canadian National Archive and the Australian War Memorial, as well as service records and battalion diaries housed in the National Archive at Kew in London. Information about the background they came from and sometimes what happened to them has usually come from the two local papers of the day, the 'Standard' and the 'Herald.
The time span covered by Pat's research extends beyond the end of the war itself, partly because a number of men died of wounds after the Armistice, but it is also because a number who died after November 1918 appear in the CWGC Northern Ireland Register of 'Those who fell in the Great War'.
Former Coleraine man Pat who has taught at Friends' School for 31 years, recalls how as a teenager he watched people lay wreathes at the cenotaph one Remembrance Sunday and wondered just how much they really knew about the people whose deaths they were commemorating. He also recalls that when he was very young his grandmother Mary Best came to live with his family. She had served in the Imperial Military Nursing Auxiliary during the Great War both in France on hospital ships in the Mediterranean and in Egypt. Mary used to tell many stories about the war and it clear from the way that she spoke of her experiences that they had had a profound impact on her life. "Thanks to my grandmother the war has always fascinated me," says schoolteacher Pat and this fascination led him to compile this online database and casualty list 'Lisburn's Dead from the Great War 1914-1919' which took nearly two decades of research. It can be viewed on the Friends School website where it forms part of the History Department's Great War Archive. Alternatively it can be found on the War Memorials section of www.lisburn.com.