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.  

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.”