Fallen remembered as centenary marked in town

Mayor of Carrickfergus Alderman Charles Johnston at the wreath laying at Carrickfergus cenotaph. INCT  32-144-GR
Mayor of Carrickfergus Alderman Charles Johnston at the wreath laying at Carrickfergus cenotaph. INCT 32-144-GR

Large crowds gathered to pay their respects as the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One was marked in Carrickfergus.

The centenary commemorations, organised by Carrickfergus Borough Council in conjunction with Friends of the 36th (Ulster Division) and the Royal British Legion, began on Monday evening with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Marine Gardens Cenotaph.

This was followed by a parade through the town centre to Quay Lane, where a short service was held.

The Cenotaph will be permanently lit in red over the next four years to mark the centenary.

The County Antrim War Memorial at Knockagh was also temporarily illuminated with the colour of the poppy for one hour on Monday evening.

The programme of commemorations marked, to the hour, the hundred years that have passed since Britain declared war on Germany.

About 17 million soldiers and civilians were killed between 1914 and 1918.

Wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph by Deputy Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, Stephen Montgomery; Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Charlie Johnston; members of the naval, army and air forces along with representatives from the Loyal Orders and the Somme Associations.

A new plaque was also unveiled in memory of those who lost their lives in the conflict.

Speaking after the event, Ald Johnston said: “There was a great turnout and I was pleased to see how many young people were involved; it was very encouraging.

“The plaque is something that will be there as a lasting tribute for years to come.”

Watching the parade as it made its way to the castle were Carrick residents Chris and Jeannie Whelan, for whom the commemorations had special significance. “My grandfather served in the First World War and fought at the Somme,” said Chris.

“We would always try and get to services for the like of Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day.”

At the castle, young people were encouraged to engage with living history actors in period dress.

A number of vintage World War One-era vehicles were parked on Castle Green, while replicas of a munitions tent and a nursing station brought the reality of life on the front to a modern audience.

On duty at Castle Green was Ian Crangle from War Years Remembered, in authentic dress as a World War One soldier.

“I’ve been in the Army for 23 years, both part time and regular, and have been involved with the living history side of things for quite a few years,” he said.

“You could say that in this part of the world, the Great War is something that has been hijacked by politicians, but when you look at the history of it, there is more to unite us than divide us. Men from all over Ireland fought side by side.”