Marking the Somme centenary

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The major Allied offensive, lasting 141 days, which began on the 1 st of July 1916 was one of the bloodiest battles in human history, with more than one million men wounded or killed.

The Ulster Division went ‘over the top’ at 7.30am that summer morning and before nightfall suffered over 5,000 casualties - like every other town and village in Ulster, Coleraine was plunged into mourning.

Coleraine’s Road to the Somme, in partnership with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Coleraine Ulster Scots Regeneration Group, and Coleraine Royal British Legion, will deliver a three-day programme of events to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

On Thursday 30 th June, Limavady Old Band and Articlave Flute Band will make their way from the Greenhill Roundabout to Anderson Park, beginning at 7pm, with representations of volunteers leaving this area in August/September 1914, and ‘the Derrys’ coming through the town in May 1915. As part of the concert both bands will play a selection of military music. A piper will finish off the concert and then lead people to the War Memorial where an overnight vigil will be held.

On Friday morning, an audio-visual presentation, detailing the men from Coleraine and district who fell on the 1 st July 1916, will be shown on a large screen in the community space at the back of the Town Hall, beginning at approximately 7.15am. At 7.30, whistles will be blown around the town to mark the moment, 100 years ago, when the men went ‘over the top’. This presentation will continue to run throughout the day.

The focus will be on Anderson Park at 10.45am when a memorial will be dedicated to the men from this area who fell at the Battle of the Somme and all those who served in the Great War.

Coleraine’s Road to the Somme received Heritage Lottery Fund support to research local people who served in WW1 and the results of this research will form part of the exhibition which will open in Coleraine Town Hall at 12 noon on Friday 1 st July. Coleraine Royal British Legion will hold a candle-light vigil at the War Memorial later that night. It will leave the RBL at approximately 10.15pm returning at about 11.10pm. On Saturday 2 nd July there will be a full programme in the Diamond.