Battle of Messines – Centenary Commemorations

Messines Centenary Commemoration

The UK and Ireland will hold a shared commemoration ceremony to mark a major World War One battle in which nationalist and unionist soldiers fought together side-by-side.

The Battle of Messines Ridge in Belgium was the first occasion that soldiers from the 36th Ulster Division and 16th Irish Division were in battle together.

Both had fought at the Battle of the Somme but at different stages.

The ceremony will take place in Messines on 7 June.

The Northern Ireland Office said the ceremony would take place at the Island of Ireland Peace Park.

The battle was a notable victory for the Allies and involved the deployment of 19 huge mines which exploded beneath the ridge, killing as many as 10,000 soldiers.

‘Common purpose’

Secretary of State James Brokenshire said: “We have seen all too well how history can divide, but our ambitious goal throughout this decade of centenaries is to seek to use history to bring us together, and to build on the political progress that has been made throughout these islands.

“This shared ceremony is an opportunity to remember the service and sacrifice of those who fought at Messines Ridge, as well as to further strengthen the important relationships that exists between the United Kingdom and Ireland.”

Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “Those from the island of Ireland were brought together by diverse motivations but they shared a common purpose as soldiers and, caught up in the grim realities of war, no doubt a common desire: to survive and return home.”

The event will be ticketed. Those interested in attending should visit the UK government website or the website for the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Republic.

Further details can also be obtained via a page on the Somme Association website Messines 2017

More than 200,000 Irishmen fought on behalf of Britain in World War One, including both unionists who wanted Ireland to remain a part of Britain and nationalists who wanted to protect Home Rule, in which Britain had agreed to devolve some parliamentary powers to Dublin.

Somme Centenary Festival of Remembrance – Carrickfergus 1 July 2016

The Festival of Remembrance is a national level event taking place at Carrickfergus on the evening of 1 July 2016.

The Festival of Remembrance is a national level event taking place at Carrickfergus on the evening of 1 July 2016 with Aled Jones leading a 2 hour concert at the Castle.

This event will include a parade by Veterans organisations from across Northern Ireland who will march through the town to Carrickfergus Castle. The parade will form up from 6.30pm at the North end of Marine Highway in Carrickfergus. The Regimental Band, Drums and Pipes Irish Guards will lead the Parade which will step off at approximately 7.10pm and include wreath laying at the war memorial in Carrickfergus and the Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim will take the salute.

Veterans and commemorative groups from across Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland are very welcome to participate in the parade. Contact us at rsvp@ww1centenaryni.com to register your interest in marching with the veterans.

The headline act at the Festival of Remembrance is Aled Jones. He will be supported by a number of local artists and the event will conclude with an Act of Commemoration and The Last Post.

Further details on this event and how to get tickets are at Festival of Remembrance

Somme Centenary National Vigil – Somme Museum 30 June-1 July 2016

The ‘national level’ event will take place at the Somme Museum, Conlig. This is located on the edge of Clandeboye Estate, where the 36th (Ulster) Division camped and trained in the early part of the war.

The vigil will be mounted overnight from 7pm on 30 June through to 7am on 1 July. People are encouraged to come along and take part in the vigil through the night. Small groups of veterans or RBL members are especially welcomed.

The public are invited to attend a service of commemoration from 7am – 7.45am on 1st July at the Somme Museum. This will include The Last Post and Reveille, the blowing of whistles at 7.28am to commemorate the moment that the 36th (Ulster) Division went ‘over the top’, a two minute silence, the Flowers of the Forest played by a piper, the laying of wreaths and prayers. There will be a chance to get a look round the museum and have a cup of tea after the Service.

The event is open to the public, though people thinking of attending should note that seating space is very limited and you need to be there for 7am at the latest. 

Please contact rsvp@ww1centenaryni.com for details.

The Royal British Legion Northern Ireland is driving an initiative to ensure that all war memorials in Northern Ireland and Counties Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan are manned by 7.20am on the morning of 1 July. The public is encouraged to participate in these activities. People can mark the moment by blowing whistles at 7.28am and then observing the two minutes silence.

To help with the commemorations the Royal British Legion has launched a toolkit – Remember the Battle of the Somme 1916-2016 which is available to pre-order in hardcopy and to download at www.britishlegion.org.uk/somme100

Somme Centenary Commemorative Service – St Anne’s Cathedral 3 July 2016

The Northern Ireland First World War Centenary Committee will hold a service of commemoration to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and in particular the service and sacrifice of the 36th (Ulster) Division.

The service will take place on 3rd July 2016 at 3.30pm in St Anne’s Cathedral.

Attendance will be by invitation only. Numbers are limited. Please email rsvp@ww1centenaryni.com if you would like to attend.