Battle of the Somme – National Vigil – Somme Museum

Northern Ireland will participate in the National Vigil to mark the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1st 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. Contact us at rsvp@ww1centenaryni.com if you want to participate in the Vigil.

Directions to Somme Museum

For those who can’t make it to the Somme Museum, the Centenary Committee along with the 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

It features everything needed to host a Somme commemoration including Remembrance event content ideas, a concise history of the Somme, the Act of Remembrance, a souvenir 1916 newspaper, promotional event materials including posters and news releases and a box of poppy petals for scattering at events, among other information and tips.

There are four national overnight vigils that will take place in United Kingdom on 30 June 2016 and will be held at:

  • A national vigil at Westminster Abbey around the Grave of the Unknown Warrior;
  • The Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle;
  • Clandeboye and Helen’s Tower – in association with the Somme Heritage Centre;
  • The Welsh National War Memorial, Cardiff.