Descendants of Irish sailors descending on Belfast for an All-Island Commemoration to the Irish Sailor event on Tuesday May 31st 2016.

Descendants of Irish sailors are flying in to Belfast from Australia, America, Canada, Spain, GB and all four corners of Ireland for the Commemoration of the Irish Sailor during the First World War on Tuesday 31st May.  The date was especially chosen as the Centenary of the Battle of Jutland, the most important naval battle of the First World War.

James Nelson Hunter and Jennie Brecke

James Nelson Hunter and Jennie Brecke

Descendants of sailors both of the Royal Navy and Mercantile Marine will be in attendance at the Commemoration at Alexandra Dock with HMS Caroline as the backdrop for the event. During the proceedings HMS Caroline will be officially opened.

The Royal Navy and Irish Naval Service will stand side by side to mark all from the Island of Ireland who served at sea and wreaths will be laid on behalf of both.  Senior political and military representatives from the UK and Ireland will be attendance alongside a German Naval Admiral.  The ports of Ireland, Irish Lights and maritime emergency services will also gather with families of those who served, and Belfast City Council will host all attendees for a civic lunch on completion of the ceremony.  Irish naval ship LÉ CIARA and British Naval Ship HMS RAMSEY will be in port for the preceding weekend and open to the public as part of Belfast’s Maritime Festival.

The Battle of Jutland involved 100,000 men over the course of 36 hours in which time Britain lost 14 ships and 6000 sailors and Germany lost 11 ships and 2500 sailors.  Over 350 of the men lost were from Ireland.  The most significant loss of Irish life happened very early in the battle when HMS Indefatigable suffered from a catastrophic explosion of her cordite. From over 1000 crew members at least 120 were Irish.   Stoker John Moriarty who hailed from Bere Island, died aged 23 years old, alongside 50 other Cork men.  Gunner Lawrence Browne from Malahide was killed at Jutland on Armoured Cruiser HMS Defence, who under heavy fire from 5 German ships, violently exploded killing all of her 904 crew with no survivors – at least 98 of the men killed were Irish.   Battlecruiser HMS Invincible was blown in half and sank in 90 seconds, killing all but 6 of its crew of over 1000 men.  At least 34 were Irish, including 2 seventeen year old Belfast boys John McCullough and John Cleland Carlisle.

Larry Brown

Gunner Larry Brown HMS Defence

Karen O’Rawe, Chair History Hub Ulster said:

“The Commemoration to the Irish Sailor is a significant all-island event, the contemporary relevance of which should not be underestimated.  The event is a timely reminder that 1916 is not all about the Easter Rising and the Battles of the Somme. The sacrifice of so many men from these shores who fought at sea, the maritime war and the impact of it on our island tends to be overlooked.  The Centenary of the Battle of Jutland and the launch of HMS Caroline is the perfect context to be officially recognising the contribution of all those in maritime roles on the island of Ireland in the 1914-18 period.”

Irish sailors were lost on many ships across the course of the First World War including over 350 at the Battle of Jutland itself, 91 at the Battle of Coronel and 62 on HMS HAWKE. As well as Royal Navy ships, Irish men were lost on merchant ships such as MFA WHITE HEAD, a Harland and Wolff built steamship torpedoed in 1917; on HMS SUBMARINE K17 lost in an accidental collision in 1918; and on converted merchant ship HMS BAYANO, torpedoed off Ireland causing bodies to wash up along the Ards Peninsula.

In 1918 at least three Irishmen were lost on HMS ASCOT, the last warship lost to enemy action in the First World War, and at least fourteen were lost on the first in 1914, HMS AMPHION. Over 1,500 Irishmen were killed in action serving at sea in the years between.

Examples of local men lost at sea include:

Stoker Peter Kennedy, Royal Naval Reserve, from Ballymena lost on HMS QUEEN MARY at the Battle of Jutland.  Peter, a member of Cavehill Orange Lodge lived at Ritchie Street in Belfast and left behind his wife and 4 children under 11 years old.

Moses Alexander Reid SS Bray Head

Moses Alexander Reid SS Bray Head

15 year old Midshipman Gervase Ronald Bruce from Downhill, Derry, one of ten cadets lost on HMS MONMOUTH. Five more Ulster teenagers were lost; Belfast boys Stoker (2nd) John McAteer, Boy (1st) William Connell, Able Seaman William A. J. Wilson and Ordinary Seaman Herbert Kelly as well as Ordinary Seaman Henry McNally who was from Draperstown.

Leading Stoker Joyce Power left young twins and a pregnant wife in Ballymena after the sinking of HMS HAWKE. His daughter Margaret Hawke Power named after the ship he was killed on.  Also drowned was Able Seaman Albert Patterson Wilson whose first daughter Frances was born only 4 weeks later on 14 November. Mariette Isabella Donald was born at the end of 1914, her father Martie Donald not returning to Carrickfergus to meet his newborn daughter.

The Gorman siblings from Clifton Park in Belfast lost one brother, Charles on HMS PATHFINDER in September only to hear of the death of another brother, Able Seaman James Toland Gorman, only one month later on HMS HAWKE.

Sullatober Flute band from Carrickfergus who lost one of their players Henry McMurran on HMS CRESSY, 3 weeks later suffered yet another tragedy with the loss of another member, Stoker (1st class) Andrew McAllister on HMS HAWKE.

Notes

HMS RAMSEY is a single role Minehunter with a crew of 40 personnel.  More information can be seen here http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/ramsey

LÉ CIARA is a Coastal Patrol Vessel of the Irish Naval Service with a crew of 42. More information can be seen here http://www.military.ie/naval-service/fleet/coastal-patrol-vessel/le-ciara-p-42/

JUTLAND SQUARE New Wall Art Installation Commemorates Lost Jutland Sailors From These Shores

A new wall art installation in North Belfast will commemorate sailors from all over Ireland who lost their lives at the Battle of Jutland, the centenary of which falls on 31st May 2016.

The Jutland Square project, funded by the NIHE Community Cohesion Unit, takes as its canvas a former graffiti black spot on Tennent Street and re-images it into a seven panel art installation created by the Shared History Workshop, using research by Karen O’Rawe.

Included in the project, which has been commissioned by the Spectrum Centre-based City Of Belfast ABF (Army Benevolent Fund) group, will be an exhibition on HMS Caroline, the sole surviving warship from the Battle of Jutland, and a series of community films and lectures about the Battle by Sea Cadet officer Lt Cdr Leslie King.

Exploring the theme of Youth at War, the project will also involve young people from the Greater Shankill area.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister, DUP MLA Arlene Foster – who oversaw the restoration of HMS Caroline as DETI minister – will launch the Jutland Square project at the Spectrum Centre, 331 Shankill Road, Belfast at 2pm on Friday 15th April 2016.

Commenting on the project, Pete Bleakley from the Shared History Workshop said, “Having run the Friends Of HMS Caroline campaign back in 2012 it gives me considerable satisfaction to be able to bring the story of the ship and the Battle Of Jutland to a wider audience through this exciting NIHE-funded project. Excellent research from History Hub Ulster means that for the first time we have a memorial to all the men from these shores who lost their lives in World War One’s biggest sea battle.”

Karen O’Rawe from History Hub Ulster commented, “The Jutland Square Project is a timely reminder of the sacrifice of so many men from these shores who fought at sea. The maritime war and the impact of it on our island tends to be overlooked, but as an island nation, keeping the seas safe and the supplies flowing to feed the people of Britain and Ireland was vital.  Belfast will mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland with a Commemoration to the Irish Sailor which will officially recognise the contribution of all those in maritime roles on the island of Ireland during the First World War period.”

Unique event creating a Sea of Lights to remember those from North Belfast who died in the First World War.

On Saturday 19th March, participants of North Belfast Remembers set sail glass bottles with LED lights and details of individual men and women from North Belfast who served in the First World War.

Sea of Lights in front of HMS Caroline EditedAdults and children across North Belfast took part in workshops to tell the stories of First World War servicemen from their areas.  The adults have researched a serviceman and written a letter to a local child about his life.  Each child received a letter and designed their glass bottle to represent his story.

This memorial event was the culmination of the project when the participants released their letters in painted glass bottles into the water at the Titanic Pump House near HMS Caroline.

Members of the public were invited to bring their ancestor’s story and write a message for a bottle which was provided on site and was thrown into Alexandra Dock.

The sea of lights was a poignant reminder of those who died in the First World War.Bottles waiting to go

Adult groups taking part were: The Hubb Community Resource Centre on the Shore Road, Survivors of Trauma Centre from Cliftonville, Alexandra Presbyterian Church on the York Road, Dalariada Community Organisation, ACT North Belfast and Brantwood History Group from Skegoneill Avenue.

Children’s groups taking part were the Hammer Youth Centre and Clonard Youth, the Church of God Boys Brigade on the Shankill, The Hubb Community Resource Centre on the Shore Road and Ardoyne Youth Club.

 

This project has been funded by Belfast City Council and Community Relations Council.

LECTURE: The Battle of Jutland Today as Seen Through its Shipwrecks (Dr Innes McCartney)

Innes McCartneyDr Innes McCartney is a nautical archaeologist, explorer, historian and author. Over the last 25 years he has specialised in the discovery of and investigation into twentieth century shipwrecks including the wrecks of the Battle of Jutland and many British and German submarines. He has appeared regularly on documentaries such as Time Team Special and is a popular speaker at conferences.

The talk will give an overview of the Battle of Jutland and then reveal how the 25 ships sunk have been discovered in recent years and what they tell us. The shipwrecks offer an entirely new way of looking at the battle. Not only are they the extant memorials to the 8,500 sailors who died, they are also remarkable untapped archaeological resources. This is no truer than when looking that remains of the ships which sunk with few witnesses, or behind walls of smoke. In those cases the wrecks offer much new information about the battle which was previously unknown. This talk will show how investigations of the wrecks are changing historical perspectives on the battle.

The talk will take place on Thursday 26th May at 6.30pm in PRONI. Refreshments will be available from 6pm

BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL: Please click here

Organised by History Hub Ulster and the Royal Navy, this event is part of Belfast City Council’s Civic Events programme of commemorations and is being funded by the Council and OFMDFM. For further information on these events, please visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/centenaries

Call for Participants in North Belfast Remembers Project

CarolineA sea of lights to remember those from North Belfast who died in the First World War.

On Saturday 19th March, participants of North Belfast Remembers will set sail glass bottles with LED lights and details of individual men and women from North Belfast who served in the First World War.

Adults and children will partner to tell the stories of 100 men, will attend a memorial event and release their glass bottle into the water at HMS Caroline.  At workshops in North Belfast, the adults involved will research a serviceman and write a letter to an unknown child about his life.  Each child will receive a letter and design their glass bottle accordingly.  The letters will be inserted into the bottles, and together each partnership will turn on the LED light in their bottle and push their bottle and letter into the water, a message in a bottle.  The sea of LED lights will serve as a poignant reminder of those lost during the First World War.

If you are from North Belfast and would like to take part in a research workshop please get in touch by emailing research@historyhubulster.co.uk

Research skills workshops will be roughly 2 hours long and will include basic research skills using a number of sources on local library computers.  Each participant will then write a letter to a child with all the information they have found. The child will use the letter to design their bottle in keeping with the man’s life. Each participant will then be required to attend an informal memorial event on the evening of 19th March at HMS Caroline, and throw their ‘message in a bottle’ into the Victoria Channel.

All members of the community will be invited to attend, bringing their own letters to place into bottles which will be provided on site and can be thrown into the channel.  Details of this will be circulated at a later date on this site.

 

HMS CAROLINE TO OPEN JUNE 1 2016. SIX MONTHS TO GO!

The count-down has begun for the opening of one of the world’s most historically significant war ships. Urgent repairs to halt the deterioration of World War One light cruiser HMS Caroline were completed earlier this year making the ship safe for the next stage of restoration. Now the final leg of restoration and interpretative work can be completed to allow the ship to function as a world-class museum, a cross-community centre and a meetings and conferences venue.

National Museum of the Royal Navy Chief of Staff Captain John Rees OBE has been leading the complex funding and restoration programme in partnership with the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment. He says: “HMS Caroline is a living legend. We are breathing new life into what is an internationally significant piece of world history. We are particularly looking forward to the ship being ready for public opening on June 1 2016. This will mark the first stage of a series of phased openings. The second and third phases will see the ship dry docked for hull conservation works in the winter and then the completion of onshore facilities.

“This is a world class heritage asset and the only ship remaining from the Grand and High Seas Fleet of some 250 vessels.  We must not underestimate the value of this ship and the resonance of its history and position in Northern Ireland, so it is a matter of pride for us as well as a contribution to local communities that the ship is brought back to life as a museum, visitor and community centre.”

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell says: “As the last floating survivor of the Battle of Jutland, HMS Caroline is an integral part of the rich tapestry of maritime history at Titanic Quarter. I have no doubt it will prove to be a popular draw for tourists when it opens as a world class museum in six months’ time.”

The vessel has been based in Northern Ireland for over 90 years and has undergone the first stages of restoration which will eventually see it opened to the public as a world class museum and heritage visitor attraction. The opening date is due to coincide with the centenary of the Battle of Jutland on May 31 2016.

NMRN in a joint venture with Northern Ireland’s Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment initially secured £1m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to safeguard the ship, £11.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £2.7m from the Northern Ireland Government to complete the restoration, preservation and interpretative work.

COMMEMORATION OF THE IRISH SAILOR

31st May 2016, the Centenary of the Battle of Jutland, is the chosen date to mark the contribution of all involved in war and life at sea 1914 – 1918 with a Commemoration to the Irish Sailor in the Great War.  The event will be run in Belfast next to Jutland’s only afloat survivor, HMS Caroline, and will include her official opening as a heritage visitor attraction.  The commemoration will connect people in maritime activity a hundred years ago with descendants, and to those engaged in similar activity today.

If you have links to sailors, fishing, shipbuilding or other maritime activity from 1914-18 and wish to be involved, please see here:  http://historyhubulster.co.uk/irishsailor/

HMS CAROLINE Project Phasing

The project is split into three distinct phases as outlined below:

PHASE 1The Ship: These works comprise of asbestos removal, ship adaptation, audio visual hardware and software and exhibition fit-out and interpretation fit-out.

PHASE 2Dry Docking: of the ship for conservation works to the hull

PHASE 3Visitor Centre & Landscaping: refurbishment works to the Pump House blocks 1-3 including the Alexandra dock

Schedule of opening

2016

May 31: Commemoration of The Irish Sailor. Centenary of Battle of Jutland ceremonies and events at Alexandra Dock.

June 1: HMS Caroline welcomes its first public visitors.

August: Landscaping of Alexandra Dock complete.

November:  HMS Caroline leaves Alexandra Dock for dry dock inspection and hull conservation works.

December: HMS Caroline returns to Alexandra Dock and new position close to Pump House and facing out to sea.

2017

May: Completion of Pump House restoration and installation of permanent ticketing office and visitor welcome centre.

caroline pic