In the Battle of the Somme, one of World War One’s bloodiest battles, 41 men from Coleraine, Portstewart, Portrush, Aghadowey and Garvagh died.
Coleraine’s ‘Road to the Somme’ project had the aim of honouring those men and woman from the Coleraine area who fought and died in World War 1.
On Friday, July 1, 100 years since the start of the battle, a special service of remembrance was held in Anderson Park - where the ‘Derrys’, members of the 10th Battalion of the Royal Inniskillings, set up camp in Coleraine.
Members of the public were joined by the Lord Lieutenant, Dennis Desmond, Deputy Mayor, cllr James McCorkell, councillors, MLAs, the MP for the area Gregory Campbell and representatives from the Royal British Legion, when a new memorial was unveiled to honour those from the area who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Coordinator of the ‘Road to the Somme’ project, Joanne Hunniford explained: “Through the project we wanted people to stop and reflect.
“The war memorial is more than just names - we wanted people to understand what the names mean, and what these young men and women went through.
“We have been researching the names on the war memorials around the area and we have discovered some amazing stories.
“These local heroes deserve to be honoured,” she said.
Six oak trees were planted in Anderson Park as part of the project, which received Heritage Lottery Funding, and was run in conjunction with Causeway Coast and Glens Council.
The trees along with a bench and memorial stone were dedicted by Rev Alan Knox at Friday’s short ceremony.
On Thursday evening, an overnight vigil was held at Coleraine’s war memorial and at 7.30am on Friday, July 1, whistles sounded around the town, at locations where men and women from the area who fought in the battle were from, to represent the brave men going over the top on that day 100 years ago.
The project will continue through July with an exhibition at Coleraine Town Hall, focusing on local memorabilia.
The exhibition will run from July 1 to July 27.
Speaking at Friday’s dedication, Deputy Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, DUP councillor James McCorkell praised all those who had been invovled in the local project.
He said: “I was honoured to join with friends from the ‘Road to the Somme’ project in such a humbling and respectful series of events. I know the group has worked extremely hard over the last year.
“As I opened the exhibition in Coleraine Town Hall, I was drawn to the roll of honour of names of those killed in action, died of wounds or injured at the Somme. “My mind wandered for an instant to what carnage and hell those dear souls would have been going through 100 years ago - men not only from Coleraine but also my own home town of Limavady, our forefathers.
“It is heartening to see so many young people take part in the events and come through the doors to view the exhibition.
“I can’t commend those involved in the ‘Road to the Somme’ project and their work enough, they are a credit to the area.
“Their forefathers would surely be proud of their respectful remembrance.”