Anderson Park centre point for Somme centenery events

Ypres WW1 Battlefield Man in action in semi darkness going over the top - Going 'over the top' at Ploegsteert, Flanders (1917) - Copyright Father Browne S.J. Collection, Dublin
Ypres WW1 Battlefield Man in action in semi darkness going over the top - Going 'over the top' at Ploegsteert, Flanders (1917) - Copyright Father Browne S.J. Collection, Dublin

Coleraine’s Road to the Somme project aims to honour the men and woman from the Coleraine area who fought and died in World War 1.

The project, which recieved Heritage Lottery funding, is being run in partnership with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

This week, we can reveal the events that will coinside with the the centenery of the Battle of the Somme, a day when 41 men from Coleraine, Portstewart, Portrush, Aghadowey and Garvagh died.

The commemoration, which will begin on Thursday, June 30, will centre on Anderson Park in Coleraine, where the ‘Derrys’, members of the 10th Battalion of the Royal Inniskillings, set up camp in Coleraine.

Project Co-0rdinator Joanne Hunniford explains: “The Derrys actually set up camp in what is now the football pitch at Anderson Park, obviously we cannot use this space so the events on June 30 will centre on the park behind St Patrick’s Church.

“On the night two bands in period costume will march in from Carthall to through the Diamond to Anderson Park to represent the men leaving for war.”

A concert will take place that evening and will have a period theme - poetry, pipers and songs representative of that era.

Drama clips will also be shown to the audience in a bid to raise awareness of what men and women from our area went through 100 years ago.

The public will then be invited to the War Memorial, where an overnight vigil will be held in a make shift trench.

“We want people just to stop and reflect, “explained Joanne. “ The war memorial is more than just names - we want people to understand what the names mean and what these young men and women went through,” told Joanne.

On the morning of July 1, an audio visual display in the Diamond will commence at dawn dipicting a timeline of events on that day.

At 7.30am, the exact time that our local men went over the top, whistles will be sounded around the town.

“We want to sound whistles at different locations around the town. This will reflect the losses from men from different areas of the town on that morning one hundred years ago,” told Joanne.

Later that morning a remembrance service will take place in Anderson Park where oak trees, a bench and a memorial stone will be dedicated.

The events will conclude with a walk from Killowen Orange Hall to Union Street Orange Hall entitled ‘ Walking in the Shadows of the Somme’.

Joanne added: “This walk will commence at 4.30 and the real aim is to bring the names off the War Memorials in the area, and tell the stories of the men, and women, from our area who laid down their lives.

“They were someone’s brother, sister, husband or son, and the whole idea of this project is to find out more about these local heroes, get the community involved and reflect and remember,” said Joanne.

A exhibition at Coleraine Town Hall, focusing on local memorabilia, will run from July 1 to July 27.

Joanne is currently looking for young people to take part in the commemorative events. Anyone interested in local history, and would like to get involved should contact Joanne on 07814264584