‘Road to the Somme’ to launch

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A project that aims to tell the stories of some of the men and women from Coleraine area who served in World War 1 will be launched this Friday evening.

Coleraine’s Road to the Somme is a Heritage Lottery Fund project, it will honour men and woman from the Coleraine area.

The project will be formally launched this Friday, January 8 at 7.30pm in Coleraine Ulster Scots Resource Centre.

Nigel Henderson will give a short presentation on some of the brave local men and women who served, including the first local fatality, the first local infantry fatality and the first local Ulster Division fatality.

The talk will also refer to a couple of local women who provided war service.

A project spokesperson told The Times: “We would welcome everyone to come along to the launch of Coleraine’s Road to the Somme to learn how you can be involved in the project.

This is all about local people telling the stories of local people; we want to put faces to the names on local war memorials. The newspapers of the time sometimes published photographs of local soldiers, but the quality isn’t great, so if anyone has family photos that they would allow us to scan we’d be grateful.

There were local families with as many as five sons serving in the war like the McGrath’s from Killowen Street; some families lost two sons within a matter of weeks of each other like the Wright’s from the Loughan and the Harkin’s from Aghadowey; a father and son, Joseph Diamond Snr and Joseph Jnr, from Portrush both died in the war. “We’ll be producing displays for an exhibition in July 2016, telling some of the stories we uncover and we’re hoping local people will also lend us items for display in the exhibition.

“We’re extremely grateful to Heritage Lottery Fund for giving us the opportunity to remember those men and women from this area and helping to keep their memory alive for the future”.

The funding allocated by Heritage Lottery Fund will allow Coleraine Festival Committee to run a series of workshops throughout the year covering subjects such as what life was like in the town at the outbreak of war.

Displays telling some of the stories will be featured in exhibitions in July and November 2016, with a booklet which will be published towards the end of the year.