Carrick to host Somme centenary tribute

County Antrim War Memorial at Knockagh.
County Antrim War Memorial at Knockagh.

Carrickfergus is to play a central role this summer as the borough prepares to host centenary commemorations for the Battle of the Somme.

A Festival of Remembrance will take place in the town on July 1, marking the 100 years since the beginning of one of World War One’s bloodiest battles.

Irish soldiers played a major part in the Somme offensive, which lasted from July 1, 1916 to November 18, 1916.

Both the 36th (Ulster) Division and the 16th (Irish) Division suffered heavy casualties.

At their March meeting, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council agreed to host the Northern Ireland Somme commemoration and to “work with the WWI Centenary Committee, RFCA (Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association) and the Royal British Legion to further develop the event”.

In a statement confirming Carrickfergus as the host town, a spokesperson for MEABC said: “A military band will lead proceedings on the evening of Friday, July 1, when a services’ display and World War One-themed exhibits take pride of place under the historic walls of Carrickfergus Castle.”

At Monday night’s meeting of the local government authority, councillors John Stewart, Ruth Wilson, and Gregg McKeen were elected to the Somme Centenary Festival of Remembrance Steering Group.

Meanwhile, council are arranging the annual County Antrim Somme Commemoration service, which will be held on Sunday, June 26 at the Knockagh monument.

Full story in this week’s Carrick Times.