Coleraine’s Road to the Somme: Project will honour local heroes

Infantrymen occupying a shallow trench in a ruined landscape before an advance during the Battle of the Somme. (Photo: PA/PA Wire)
Infantrymen occupying a shallow trench in a ruined landscape before an advance during the Battle of the Somme. (Photo: PA/PA Wire)
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Did you know that around 49,000 Irish men died in World War One?

A project, organised by the Ulster Scots Resource Centre in Coleraine and the Coleraine Twelfth Festival, aims to dig into our local history, and find out about the locals involved in the war, and the impact on those left behind in the Coleraine area.

The project, will coincide with next year’s centenary of the Battle of the Somme - a battle that killed many local men and women.

On July 1, 1916, 41 men from Coleraine, Portstewart, Portrush, Aghadowey and Garvagh died.

The historical programme, spearheaded by Joanne Hunniford, aims to tell the story of the Coleraine men and women who served in the Great War.

“There are hundreds of stories, and we’ve only started to scratch the surface in our research,” Joanne told The Times. “We are asking people to have a hunt in their attics for anything related to the First World War.

“On Saturday, November 21 we will be hosting an open day in the Ulster Scots Resource Centre, so we are asking people to come along and find out more about our past and bring along any items that they might have.

“We know that a lot of people out there have interest in the role their ancestors had in the War, so this will be an opportunity for them to come along. We can help them with their research.”

Joanne hopes that by the end of the project, we will all have a better understanding of the role of local people in the war.

Already research using rolls of honour in local Orange Halls and War Memorials have revealed some interesting facts.

“We know that many Catholics fought in this war, and that’s why we want to reach out to the entire community - to schools, Boys Brigade groups, churches and find out as much information about our local war heroes,” said Joanne.