|A page from Father Francis Gleeson's diary during World War I.|
The diary of Father Francis A. Gleeson, an Irish priest who became a World War I chaplain, is now available to read online. Father Gleeson traveled with the Second Battalio Royal Munster Fusiliers and kept a detailed diary while he was ministering to the soldiers. The diary came into the possession of the Dublin Diocesan Archives, which put it online for the public to read.
Noelle Dowling and Peter Sobolewski of the Dublin Diocesan Archives worked for about nine months transcribing Gleeson's items, including his diary, letters he wrote to families of men missing or killed in action, and letters he received in return. The diary includes accounts of several incredible days on the front line, with Gleeson describing everything from coming under fire and thinking death was imminent to the excitement of having bacon to eat.
Dowling said it is the soldiers’ faith during this difficult time that he finds most interesting in Gleeson’s accounts of daily life in the trenches. “They all would have had rosary beads, or holy pictures. There were stories of a bullet hitting a holy medal,” he said.
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