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The Memorial for the 159 Irish people who died during the Korean war Photo by: Conor O'Reilly

Memorial for Irish war heroes who died in Korean War erected in Seoul

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The Memorial for the 159 Irish people who died during the Korean war Photo by: Conor O'Reilly

A memorial for the 159 Irish people who died during the Korean war, was unveiled at the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul on Thursday.

The Irish Association of Korea, with the Embassy of Ireland, the Somme Association and the Royal Ulster Rifles Association, organized a remembrance service to honor the Irish soldiers who fought between 1950 and 1953.

Soldiers were not the only Irish casualties in the war, seven members of the Columban order and Anglican nun, Sister Mary Clare Witty also died during the conflict.

A dozen Irish veterans, mainly from the Royal Ulster Rifles and other British regiments were invited to the service, where the memorial was unveiled as part of the April Revisit Korea programme.

Originally from Belfast, Mark Beck McConnell, 89, who attended Thursday's ceremony reflected on his years of service.

“I had good times at Happy Valley. But it turned out to be an unhappy valley at the end,” McConnell told MSN.

McConnell served in the British Army under the Royal Ulster Rifles.

“I had a brother with me and a cousin that got killed. He is buried in Busan. I lost some good friends,” he said.

The memorial reads:

“Men from all over Britain and Ireland, from every community, fought with the Royal Ulster Rifles in Korea. The regiment sacrificed many to the Korean War with the most significant losses suffered at the Battle of ‘Happy Valley’ in defence of Seoul, capital of South Korea, on the night of 3-4 January 1951. The VIII Kings Royal Irish Hussars and the Royal Artillery in support of the RUR also sustained casualties.”

“This monument recalls the original Memorial Pillar in Happy Valley which was carved by a Korean mason during the succeeding battles before being erected on 3 July 1951 overlooking the battlefield. The original memorial was moved in 1962 to Northern Ireland and now stands in the grounds of the City Hall in Belfast.”

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