Belfast Somme 100 Autumn Programme launch!

Belfast Somme 100

At the launch of the September - November Belfast Somme 100 programme, pictured from left: Karen O'Rawe, Chair of History Hub Ulster, and Antoinette Morelli, who stars in 'Medal in a Drawer' which runs in venues across Belfast from 27th - 30th September.

History Hub Ulster today launches it's Belfast Somme 100 September – November 2016 programme of commemorative events marking the centenary of the battles of the Somme, and the place of the Somme campaign within the First World War. Karen O'Rawe, Chair of History Hub Ulster and Belfast Somme 100 said 'The impact of the Somme on Belfast is remembered in this, our final programme of events. The people of our small city heaved with tears of grief as their young men were killed and maimed, no matter what their background.  Belfast Catholic, Protestant, Jew or Quaker - all served and died together at the Somme. The close links between people can be seen in our programme of events. Follow Rifleman Willie Kerr, a young Catholic man who enlisted in the YCV in MEDAL IN THE DRAWER. See his friend, young Protestant Rifleman George Kirkwood on the big screen at City Hall as part of the CASTLETON LANTERNS Project.  DR JOHANNE DEVLIN TREWE will give a lecture on the service of local nurses, like George Kirkwoods sisters Charlotte and Mary Ellen. The Kirkwoods and Kerrs were just two Belfast families who received telegrams announcing the deaths of their sons. NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS takes us back to a village waiting, with dread and hope, for any news from the front.  A SOMME CONFERENCE, HEDGE SCHOOL and LECTURE SERIES as well as COMMEMORATIVE events draw together all the perspectives of this centennial year and aim to enhance our understanding of the impact of the Slaughter At the Somme' The project focuses on the personalities and stories associated with the campaign and mark its place in the social and political history of Northern Ireland and pre-partition Ireland. The Belfast Somme 100 project aims to raise awareness of previously overlooked or submerged stories and personal connections that both the Somme and the events of 1916 have had with the broader history and development of Northern Ireland. The programme runs for 141 days across Belfast, the exact duration of the Somme campaign in 1916, and this Autumn it features a range of commemorative events including concerts, film, lectures, walks, exhibitions, poetry, debates, theatre, children and family activities. Highlights include: Medal in the Drawer, a play by Brenda Winter Palmer which follows four volunteers from Belfast on their war-journey; The Year of the Somme: 1916 in Perspective conference in partnership with the Western Front Association which features a ranges of local and international speakers;  Artists at the Somme with the visual artists, poets and musicians at the Ulster Museum; a series of talks at the Linen Hall Library;  No News is Good News a new play Philip Orr, will form a Kabosh promenade production at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum and take you back 100 years  to meet the villagers who were desperate for news and awaiting telegrams from the front; a season of films at the Queen’s Film Theatre; Castleton Lanterns, refound images of servicemen after 95 years will be shown on the Big Screen at City Hall;  The 1916 Centenaries, An Opportune Time for Reflection?, Hedge School in partnership with the Fellowship of the Messines Association, Battle of the Somme Centenary Concert at the Ulster Hall; and the programme culminates with a Keith Jeffery Memorial Lecture by Margaret MacMillan, Professor of International History at the University of Oxford. Local events throughout Belfast will continue through till the end of November. Activities will include the opening of a new memorial and lighting of a beacon at Skegoneill Avenue in November, a Somme Day Community Festival to launch Tree Tank in South Belfast, the 'Row on Row' remembrance event at Pitt Park on 18th November and a new activity and learning book on the Somme to be circulated free to schools and community centres and interactive workshops aimed at educating children and young people. The objectives of the Somme 100 project are to dispel myths and stereotypes, to promote and encourage dialogue within communities and with other communities and to create a space which allows the development of mutual understanding. Belfast Somme 100 is run by History Hub Ulster with an Advisory Panel made up of experts in the period and community leaders. It is funded by Belfast City Council. Full information, updates and ticketing is available at www.belfastsomme100.com, on Facebook and on twitter @belfastsomme100.  

1932 – Belfast’s forgotten year?

  1932 - Belfast’s forgotten year? As part of a major new Shared History project including a play by Gary Mitchell & Martin Lynch: 1932: The People Of Gallagher St, Green Shoot Productions is holding a series of PUBLIC TALKS at the Linen Hall Library in April, May and June. Involving three panels of leading researchers, commentators, and artists and chaired by Dawn Purvis, the TALKS highlight the events of 1932 that brought Northern Ireland to the brink of revolution and create opportunities for an exploration of the themes and responses and relevance for today. Belfast 1932 Talks  

Centenary of the Battle of the Falklands

Battle of the Falklands – 08 Dec 1914 Prelude to Battle Following the Battle of Coronel on 01 November 1914 off the coast of Chile, where the Royal Navy had suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hand of Admiral von Spee’s squadron, the Admiralty was making plans to redress the loss.  Admiral von Spee clearly realised his actions would not go unpunished. At a post battle celebration in Valparaiso in central Chile, he was given flowers whereupon he commented ‘these will do nicely on my grave’ and refused to drink to ‘the confusion of the British Navy’. The Admiralty ordered two battlecruisers, HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible, to sail south to engage von Spee’s squadron on 11 November 1914, despite being told by Devonport dockyard that Inflexible could not be ready until 13 November. The dockyard pulled together and both ships put to sea at 4.45pm on 11 November. The location of von Spee’s squadron after Coronel was unknown.  Would he come through the Panama Canal into the Caribbean Sea?  Would he round the Cape Horn into the Southern Atlantic? Would he remain in the Pacific? Was he already off the coast of Brazil as one (false) report suggested? The Admiralty covered all options, but it seemed probable that he would remain off the coast of Chile, so the Falkland Islands would be essential as a coaling base. The battleship HMS Canopus was therefore directed to moor at Port Stanley and guard the islands. On 23 November, sound intelligence was received by the Admiralty that von Spee remained off the Chilean coast.  On 24 November, Admiral Sturdee and Admiral Stoddart were to join forces and move to the Falklands. Meanwhile, Admiral von Spee had rounded Cape Horn on 02 December with two armoured cruisers (SMS Gneisenau and Scharnhorst) and three light cruisers (SMS Nurnberg, Dresden and Leipzig).  On 06 December he made a decision to take the Falkland Islands, expecting to meet a small British squadron at worst. Unknown to him, Admiral Sturdee’s squadron, consisting of two battleships (Invincible and Inflexible), three armoured cruisers (Carnarvon, Kent and Cornwall) and two light cruisers (Glasgow and Bristol) arrived at the Falklands on the forenoon of 07 December. Sturdee’s intention was to coal immediately and sail in search of von Spee on 08 December. At 7.50am on 08 December, while the British ships were still coaling, Admiral von Spee’s squadron was sighted by lookouts from HMS Canopus.  At 8.30am all coaling was ordered to cease and “Action” was sounded. At this moment, SMS Gneisenau and Nurnberg were approaching Port Stanley at a range of eight miles, while the remainder of von Spee’s squadron were at twenty miles.  By 9.15am, the two lead German ships were making ready to fire on the wireless station above Port Stanley. Only HMS Carnarvon was ready for action at this point, but Canopus had the first say in the action by firing on the Gneisenau at a range of 11,000 yards. At 9.40am the Gneisenau had view of the harbour. It must have been a severe shock to see the dense smoke created by an unexpectedly large number of British warships, and worse still, to see the tripod masts of battleships! By 9.45am the Gneisenau and Nurnberg had turned and fled.  By 10.00am the British ships were under way and the chase had begun. By 11.07am the enemy were in sight and it was clear the British ships had the advantage of speed. At 11.30am Admiral Sturdee aboard Invincible ordered that the next meal be taken aboard all ships while they closed in. At 12.51pm the first shot of the chase was fired by Inflexible at the lagging Leipzig.  At 1.20pm, Admiral von Spee made a courageous and honourable move to save the Leipzig and his other light cruisers.  He turned his two armoured cruisers around to engage the British and ordered the light cruisers to make their escape.  Admiral Sturdee immediately ordered his light cruisers to break away and give chase. Fate of German Armoured Cruisers As soon as von Spee ordered the turn, Inflexible opened up on Gneisenau and Inflexible attacked the Scharnhorst.  The enemy had not replenished their ammunition since Coronel.  Von Spee sought to close the range down to make fire more effective, and held off returning fire until he was close enough. Sturdee realised this and continued to fire at long range.  By 3.10pm the action was at its hottest with Gneisenau listing and Scharnhorst burning.  By 4.00pm the Scharnhorst’s guns fell silent as she listed to starboard.  By 4.17pm she had sunk with the loss of all hands. The attention of two British battleships now turned on the cruiser Gneisenau.  Despite being pounded, she continued to fight bravely.  By 5.10pm Admiral Stoddart in the Carnarvon had caught up and joined in.  By 5.30pm she was burning furiously and listing heavily, but still firing defiantly.  She sank at around 5.45pm with around 200 of her 850 men being picked up by 7.30pm. Fate of the German Light Cruisers Unknown to the British, the German Light Cruisers were not in good condition at the point war broke out.  After four months cruising with no maintenance periods, they were even worse with doubts raised over the condition of the boilers.  Glasgow being the fastest soon caught the Leipzig and opened fire at 2.53pm.  The Liepzig turned and launched a broadside at Glasgow.  This slowed the Leipzig’s progress and allowed Kent to close up. Shortly after 3.30pm the German ships scattered on different courses.  Cornwall and Glasgow pursued Leipzig while Kent chased Nurnberg.  Dresden was able to escape due to her superior speed. By 4.15pm Cornwall and Glasgow had closed in and engaged Leipzig.  Ten minutes later, it was clear that Leipzig was doomed as she was being hit time after time and her speed was falling.  But the Leipzig continued to fight for nearly two hours until the Cornwall closed range and began to fire lyddite, a high explosive.  A surviving German officer described it as ‘terrific’ and ‘fearful’ as the vessel became an inferno filled with dark smoke lit by the flashes of the bursting shells.  By 7.00pm Leipzig’s guns fell silent, but she managed to launch three torpedoes from her starboard tubes.  The crew opened the sea cocks to sink the Leipzig and gathered amidships in hope of rescue before she went down.  Sadly this was not seen by the British due to the smoke and flames and at 7.50pm, Captain Luce decided to finish Leipzig off at close range.  During this, the crew of the Leipzig managed to burn two green lights.  Luce ordered cease fire and put rescue boats into the water at 8.45pm.  Leipzig, a mass of flames and smoke, turned on her beam ends and sank at 9.23pm.  Only eighteen men were saved alive. The Kent was not known as a good steamer, but by burning almost everything made of wood she had performed a miracle and had got almost within range of the Nurnberg by 5.00pm.  The Nurnberg immediately fired her stern guns which went over the Kent, while the Kent’s guns struggled to get close.  Things quickly improved as two of the Nurnberg’s boilers had burst slowing her down.  The Kent gained ground and soon her guns were within effective range with fire being exchanged from 5.45pm.  By 6.00pm the range was very close and the Nurnberg was taking severe punishment, so she turned away.  Kent continued to shell at longer range and ten minutes later Nurnberg was on fire with several guns out of action.  By 6.25pm Nurnberg had almost stopped in the water.  She had a heavy list, was down by the stern, she was ablaze and all her guns were out of action.  Just before 7.00pm, Nurnberg hauled down her colours in surrender and sank just before 7.30pm.  Kent sent boats to the rescue and continued to search until 9.00pm, but only seven men were saved. What of SMS Dresden?  She had escaped, but Admiral Stoddart’s order to locate and sink her remained.  Worn out and with no coal, she was trapped by HMS Glasgow in a Chilean port were her crew scuttled her on 14 March 1915. By Mark McCrea, History Hub Ulster Member Reference: Naval Operations – History of the Great War Volume 1 – by Sir Julian S Corbett

Ireland 1912-1923 An Island in Turmoil and Transition

Ireland 1912-1923 An Island in Turmoil and Transition: A series of talks and debates about the Irish Revolutionary period and it's political and social aftermath. Philip Orr and Tom Hartley talk, debate and discuss each of 7 themes as below. Every Thursday from 25th September - 6th November at various locations across Belfast. For more info contact Séanna Walsh at Coiste na nlarchimí by emailing seanna@coiste.com   coiste