Events to mark the Somme centenary

Irish soliders pictured during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.
Irish soliders pictured during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.

A number of events will take place over the coming weeks in Portadown to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

They have been organised by the Royal Irish Fusiliers Old Comrades Association along with the Royal British Legion’s Portadown branch.

On Thursday, June 30 and Friday, July 1 a Somme exhibition will be held at the Royal British Legion in Thomas Street from 10-5 each day.

And on Friday, July 1 at Portadown War Memorial there will be a service of commemoration, wreath laying and unveiling of a commemoration stone to Lieutenant Shillington Cather VC, 9th Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers.

On Sunday, July 3 St Mark’s Parish Church will be the venue for a service of commemoration to all those from Portadown and surrounding district who lost their lives at the Battle of the Somme.

In fact, the church’s existing tower was built to remember all those from the area who died during World War One.

Regimental associations and standards are invited to attend while organisations such as youth groups and schools are welcome to send representatives to the commemorations.

Meanwhile, the Catholic and Church of Ireland bishops of Armagh led young people on a Somme Centenary Pilgrimage this week.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop Richard Clarke and 30 young pilgrims, including a number from Armagh, took part in the visit to major battle sites.

The pilgrimage began at the new Memorial Wall in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, on Wednesday and concluded at Peace Park in Messines, Belgium, today (Friday).

Among significant moments on the pilgrimage were the visit and prayers at the Memorial Wall at Glasnevin Cemetery; the visit to the Ulster Tower in Thiepval, France; the wreath laying ceremony at the Menin Gate, Ypres, and the visit to the Irish Peace Tower, Belgium.

Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “I hope that our shared pilgrimage will offer us time and space to reflect with our young people on the importance of peace in our country and in our world.”