How Many Miles to Babylon? at the Lyric Theatre

The First World War Centenary is commemorated in dramatic fashion at the Lyric Theatre with a stirring adaptation of Jennifer Johnston’s novel How Many Miles to Babylon? this Spring.

Rehearsals are well underway with an impressive line-up of Irish and English actors bringing the Londonderry author’s “brilliant masterpiece” to the stage for the first time in Northern Ireland.

Alec and Jerry

Anthony Delaney (Alec) and Ryan McParland (Jerry) in rehearsals

How Many Miles to Babylon? tells the heart-rending story of two young Irish boys from very different backgrounds who end up fighting in Flanders. Alec and Jerry are divided by class but united in friendship. One is the only child of Anglo-Irish landowners; the other is from a large family of Irish workers. Brought together by a shared love of horses, the pair enjoy an idyllic childhood on the same estate in County Wicklow.

As war breaks out at the end of 1914, both enlist in the army – and find themselves standing together, yet divided once more by rank. In the fields of Flanders, they must not only endure the horrors of the battlefield, but also face an ordeal that will test their friendship and their loyalty to breaking point.  The dramatic tale has been adapted by Irish actor and current Artistic Director of the PICT theatre in Pittsburgh, Alan Stanford.

Full cast How Many Miles to Babylon?

Full cast of How Many Miles to Babylon?

Philip Wilson directs an impressive cast with Good Vibrations star Ryan McParland taking on the role of the charismatic Jerry and Anthony Delaney (Liola, The Kingdom) as Alec. Lyric audiences may also remember Ryan from Tim Loane’s The Civilisation Game in 2012 as well as the BBC series, 6 Degrees set in Belfast.

Catherine Cusack, part of the Irish acting dynasty of Cusacks, plays the cold mother, Alicia Moore opposite Michael James Ford (Becoming Jane; Michael Collins) as her husband. The rest of the cast are Richard Teverson (Brideshead Revisited; Downton Abbey) as Major Glendinning, Jeremy Lloyd (The Iron Lady) as Bennett and Charlie De Bromhead (How to Lose Friends and Alienate People).

Director Philip Wilson

Director Philip Wilson

“I came across Jennifer Johnston’s novel some years back, when I was researching another First World War story, and her delicate yet heartbreaking account of how young Irish men faced the unimaginable in the trenches has stayed with me ever since,” said the director, Philip Wilson.

“So I leapt at the chance to stage Alan Stanford’s poignant and richly evocative adaptation of this classic novel. Alec and Jerry’s friendship – which transcends education, class and religion – is a wonderfully compelling one, and the journey they go on together is truly remarkable.”

How Many Miles to Babylon? runs on the Danske Bank Stage, Lyric Theatre, from Wed 30 April to Sat 24 May (Previews Sun 27 April 2.30pm; Tues 29 April 1pm & 7.45pm).

For more information and to book tickets click here.

Image credits: Brian Morrison

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Castleton Lanterns at the NI War Memorial 1 – 31 May

Castleton Lanterns

The Castleton Lanterns project will be having a display of our images in the NI War Memorial from 1st May – 31st May.  This display is part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival.

There will also be an illustrated talk by Museum Photographer Bryan Rutledge who will explore the role of photography during the First World War both at home and at the front. Bryan will also include a look at some of the enduring Castleton Lanterns images made by renowned Belfast Photographer Alex R Hogg. Hogg was commissioned by the Castleton Presbyterian Church committee to put together a lantern slide presentation of ‘our men at the front’ on 16th December 1918.

The talk will be at 7.30pm on 1st May and repeated again at 12.30pm on 8th May. Space is limited and admission is free of charge.  Please email info@niwarmemorial.org to reserve a place.

Find out more information by clicking here.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Laganvillage Somme Society: Call for information

lvss logoThe Laganvillage Somme Society are working on a project looking into the lives of the men lost to the great war who are buried in Dundonald, St. Elizabeth’s and Knock cemeteries in East Belfast.

Are any of your ancestors buried in these three graveyards?  Were they Killed in Action? The men are from all areas of Belfast and further, not just East Belfast.

Whether you have information or would like to be involved in the project, please get in touch. Laganvillage Somme Society would like to hear from you.

You can find the Society on Facebook, email the Co-ordinator of the project at tlynas83@gmail.com or call Thomas on 079 2018 6314

The names the Society are researching are:

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Castleton Presbyterian Church Roll of Honour

Roll of Honour for Castleton Presbyterian Church.  Please note additions and edits at the end.

[1] The Memorial Plaque that was erected in the church records the following discrepancies with regard to the information supplied for the Roll of Honour:
Alex Cumming is recorded on the Memorial as Cunning
John Kennedy is recorded on the Memorial as John George Kennedy
Robert McPhelimey is recorded on the Memorial as William McPhelimey
Robert Stewart is recorded on the Memorial as George Stewart
John Walker is recorded on the Memorial as Killed in Action

[2] There are an additional two men recorded on the Memorial – John McIlroy and J. Patterson.

[3] The Minutes of the Congregational record that four names were not included on the Memorial Plaque as “no information was forthcoming”.
These were W. J. Beattie, W. Duke, J. K. Hunter and S. McFall.

*With thanks to Eddie at Eddie’s Extracts for the online information.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Private James Reid, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

James Reid

James Reid

Identified as lantern slide 59 (LHS)

James Reid was born in 1898 to David Reid and Sarah McLaughlin.

David and Sarah married in Donegall Pass Presbyterian Church on Christmas Eve 1890.

He is listed aged 5 on the 1901 census living in Craigavad Street with his parents, elder sister Agnes and little sister Nelly. His little brother David had died in 1901 aged only 1 year old. A new brother John McManus was born in 1902. Agnes then died in 1905 aged 11 years old.

By 1911 the remaining family had moved to Rowan Street.

John McManus married Agnes Neill in Agnes Street Presbyterian Church on 27 December 1921.  Their child Sarah McLaughlan Reid was born in September 1922 but died 3 weeks later on 5 October 1922. She was buried from 19 Rowan Street and is buried in public ground at Belfast City Cemetery.

The family of James’ sister Nelly say that James Reid was over six feet tall and had to have his boots specially made as his feet were so big!

James enlisted as a Private in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (S/N 13006)Reid James scroll (Kathleen Morrison)

Reid James medals (Kathleen Morrison)He entered the war in Gallipoli on 11 July 1915 and was listed as wounded in the Dardanelles only a month later.

He was killed within the year at the Somme on 1st July 1916. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory medal, sent to his next of kin in 1922.

He is remembered at Thiepval Memorial and by Castleton Lanterns and Alexandra Presbyterian Church.

Reid James image (Kathleen Morrison)

Thanks to relative Kathleen Morrison for the additional photographs and as always to http://www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com/

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Identified: Samuel Fee, Royal Navy

Identified: Samuel Fee: Royal Navy (SS/102801), Killed as a direct result of enemy action 1914 (Lantern Slide 4: Right hand side)

FAMILY

Samuel Fee was born 29 December 1887 to Samuel, a labourer and his English wife Ellen, a housekeeper.

At the time of the 1901 census, he lived in 22 North Howard Street with his brother James, sister Catherine and parents.

1901 census Fee

1901 census Fee

By 1911, Samuel senior was widowed and was living in Urney Street with his son James. Both Catherine and Samuel had married and moved out of the family home by this time.

SAMUEL FEE

SAMUEL FEE

 

Samuel married his wife Catherine Boyd in Whitehouse Presbyterian Church on 21 December 1909.

The Roll of Honour for Castleton states that both Samuel and *James’ address in 1918 was Harrisburg Street and the Newspaper listing of Samuel’s death lists him as living in 28 Barbour Street, Greencastle.

*James served in WW1 but his service has not been traced as yet. However it is known that he survived.

 NAVAL RECORD

Samuel Fee joined the Royal Navy in April 1906, aged 18 years old, well before World War I broke out.

 

HMS Magnificent

HMS Magnificent

 His service record notes that he had tattoos – a bust of a man and a figure of a woman as well as a scar on his throat.  He served on the Majestic class ship MAGNIFICENT (flagship of the Commander-in-Chief), the King Edward VII-class battleship AFRICA (flagship of Vice Admiral Sir William Henry May), the Devonshire-class armoured cruiser ANTRIM and Canopus class battleship GLORY during his 5 years service as well as spending time at bases ACHERON and PEMBROKE II. He began his service as Stoker (2nd class) and was made Stoker (1st class) during his time on MAGNIFICENT.

 

HMS Hawke

HMS Hawke

Once his 5 years service was up, he transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve and was called up for service in 1914 serving as a Stoker (1st Class) on HMS HAWKE. HMS HAWKE was an Edgar-class protected cruiser commanded by Captain Hugh P.E.T. Williams and was engaged in various operations in the North Sea. (An interesting aside: on 20 September 1911, Hawke, under command of Commander W.F. Blunt, collided in the Solent with Belfast’s own RMS Olympic. In the course of the collision, Hawke lost her prow.)

 DEATH

Lost at sea

Lost at sea

On 15 October 1914 HMS HAWKE, sailing with her sister ship THESEUS was torpedoed by German submarine U-9. The submarine’s first torpedo missed THESEUS but hit HAWKE igniting a magazine and causing a tremendous explosion which ripped much of the ship apart. HAWKE sank in a few minutes with the loss of her captain, 26 officers and 497 men including Samuel Fee, aged by now only 25 years old. Only 70 of her 594 crew survived.

Over 20 men from Northern Ireland went down with their ship.  Samuel’s service record notes ‘Lost in North Sea when HMS Hawke was sunk by a German submarine’.

Samuel Fee is remembered on Chatham Naval Memorial.

You can read survivor and witness statements here on the Royal Navy Remembrance blog as well as see a list of Northern Irish men who were lost in this, one of the greatest single losses to Royal Navy personnel from Northern Ireland. 

U-9

Otto Weddigen Kaserne

Otto Weddigen Kaserne

U-9 was commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto-Weddigen-Kaserne. Otto Weddigen was awarded the Iron Cross and, after sinking HMS HAWKE and some merchant ships, was awarded Prussia’s highest military order, the Pour le Mérite. He became one of only six non-Bavarians to receive the Knight’s Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph, Bavaria’s highest military honour. He also received the highest military honors of the other two kingdoms of the German Empire, the Knight’s Cross of Saxony’s Military Order of St. Henry and the Knight’s Cross of Wurttemberg’s Military Merit Order.

Wehrmacht named a newly built barracks in Herford as Otto-Weddigen-Kaserne in his honour due to the linkage with his birthplace. The naval connection was signified by placing two large anchors at the base of a large National Socialist Reichsadler at the entrance to the barracks.

Ironically, ever since 1945 the barracks has been occupied by British Army soldiers from the Royal Corps of Signals.  

Samuel Fee is remembered by Castleton Lanterns and Alexandra Presbyterian Church.

Samuel Fee KIA 15.10.1914

Samuel Fee KIA 15.10.1914

 

 

 

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Identified: Patrick Bryan Adair

IDENTIFIED: Patrick Bryan Adair, Battery Sergeant Major, 16th Battery, Motor Machine Gun Service, Machine Gun Corps. (Lantern Slide #11)

Patrick Bryan AdairPatrick Bryan Adair was born on 12th January 1890. He was living at 73 North Queen Street in 1901 aged 11 with his widowed mother Mary Adair and three older sisters Jane, Elizabeth and Grace

He was living at Greenmount Street in 1911 with his mother and stepfather Daniel Bell. He was aged 21 his profession was listed as a machinist.

Patrick Bryan Adair joined the Belfast Fire Brigade on 24th July 1911.  He signed the Ulster Covenant at Central Fire Station in 1912.Bryan Adair UC

During the First World War he served with both the Royal Irish Rifles and the 16th Battery, Motor Machine Gun Service, Machine Gun Corps. His rank was Battery Sergeant Major. He was Mentioned In Despatches and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

Patrick Bryan Adair (BNL 21 Nov 1916)

In 1918 his address was given as 6 Loughview Villas, Shore Road.

Nicknamed Gutty, he was a dedicated Officer and a Graduate Member of the Institution of Fire Engineers. He had been promoted to the rank of Third Officer in the Brigade in February 1932 and subsequently to the position of District Officer when the ranks were revised in 1936.

Bryan Patrick Adair, Belfast Fire Brigade

Belfast Fire Brigade First Aid team posing with their cups and trophies. (Bryan Adair front second from left) from Bill Broadhurst

He had taken the unusual step of writing directly to the Ministry of Home Security at Stormont as “One of the professional Fire Officers, who have been compelled to sit back and watch the mistakes, and blunders, made in the organisation of the City’s Fire Fighting Services.”  (The Flaming Truth: William Broadhurst)

He died of a heart attack on 9th April 1941 and was buried from his home in Ardoyne Fire Station.

Patrick Bryan Adair died 9th April 1941. Image from Bill Broadhurst

Patrick Bryan Adair died 9th April 1941. Image from Bill Broadhurst

 

If you have any more information on Patrick Bryan Adair or think you may be related to him, please let me know by leaving a comment below.  Or you can contact me at karen@castletonlanterns.co.uk.

Click here to find out more about the Castleton Lanterns project.

 

 

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lives of the First World War

FACEBOOK COVER POPPY DAY

Castleton Lanterns will be setting up a community for the Castleton Lanterns men on the Lives of the First World War project site.

(image © IWM Q 000743)

(image © IWM Q 000743)

The Lives of the First World War project will hold the stories of over 8 million men and women who served in uniform and worked on the home front across Britain and the Commonwealth.

It will bring together fascinating records from museums, libraries, archives and family collections across the world, so that everyone can help to discover, remember and share the life stories of those who were involved.

The IWM’s innovative and interactive digital platform to mark the Centenary of the First World War will be officially launching in February 2014.

(image © IWM Q 001580)

(image © IWM Q 001580)

The project needs your help to explore the documents, to link them together to help preserve the incredible life stories for future generations.

Over the course of the centenary, Lives of the First World War will become a dynamic, permanent digital memorial – a significant digital legacy for future generations.

We’ll be sharing information on the Castleton Lanterns men who we have identified such as Thomas Robinson (Right), Samuel McCall (Left) and James McCann.

We’ll also be sharing the photos of men we need help to identify, along with information of those on the Roll of Honour for Castleton Church in the hope that you will be able to help identify them. We-are-the-voice-of

Click here to sign up to their mailing list to make sure you get the news first about how and when you can get involved.

In the meantime, please have a look through the images of our Castleton Lanterns men and see if you can identify any of the faces, or provide any information.  You can also look through the images on our Flickr channel or on Tumblr, follow me on Twitter or like the Castleton Lanterns page on Facebook.

 

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exhibition Launch Red Barn Gallery Thursday 3 October

The launch of the Castleton Lanterns exhibition in Red Barn Gallery will take place on Thursday 3rd October 2013 at 6pm. The exhibition includes lantern slide images of men of Castleton Church, York Road who served in the Great War, and will run across Remembrance Day until Wednesday 13th November 2013.

In April, a box of old lantern slides was found in the organ loft of Alexandra Presbyterian Church. The images were of soldiers and sailors in First World War uniforms and were made by the famous Belfast photographer Mr Alex. R. Hogg. The committee minutes of Castleton Church state that in 1918 Mr Hogg was asked to put together a lantern slide exhibition ‘of our men at the front’ which was to be shown on 16th December 1918. Tickets for the lantern slide show were sent to the families of serving men.

Unfortunately the slides were not named and Alexandra Presbyterian Church have been attempting to identify the men in the slides. To date, over 20 men have been identified but there are many more faces to put names to. Red Barn Gallery have stepped in to help the project attract a wider audience, to enable the families to see their ancestors’ images and to ask the people of Belfast to visit to aid in the identification of the men.

The importance of finding the families of the men is demonstrated by some of the stories being told. One such story is of Francis Ernest McCann and James McCann. Francis served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and James served in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. On 1st July 1916 (known as The Somme), Lance Corporal James McCann was killed. James is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial and his photo was listed in the Belfast Telegraph when he died. This enabled the identification of James as Slide Number 58.

David Morrow, a reader of the Castleton Lanterns blog got in touch to tell us that these men were his relatives and was able to identify Francis Ernest McCann as Slide Number 5 and provide a photo to confirm. Francis was married in 1916 to Sarah Baird Crossan, survived the war and went on to have children. He died in 1937 of cardiac failure having suffered from bronchial problems as a result of being gassed in the trenches. During the Belfast Blitz of April 1941, Francis’ wife Sarah and two of their daughters were sadly killed in Glasgow Street. One daughter survives today. David was also able to confirm that Slide Number 58 was James McCann as suggested, evidenced by his treasured family photos.

David supplied a letter written by James’ friend James Magill who wrote to his mother Mary to tell her how her son had died and how he had received a proper burial. Another Royal Inniskilling Fusilier, the letter writer James Magill had been wounded in France and the Belfast Telegraph had printed his photograph. We were then able to identify the man who wrote the letter James Magill, as Slide Number 73. James Magill survived the war.

Karen O’Rawe, Project Manager of Castleton Lanterns said

The example of James Magill, Francis Ernest McCann and James McCann demonstrate just how closely connected all the Castleton Lanterns men were. They were brothers, best friends, pals and colleagues. It’s important to find their stories and tell them, to understand their lives and remember them, coming up to the anniversary of the start of the Great War. It is sad to hear the stories of those who were lost or wounded beside those who lived and flourished and I’m sure the families who gathered to watch the lantern slide show in 1918 must have felt something similar.

We are asking everyone who had relatives around the York Road at the time to visit the exhibition, and to log on to our website at castletonlanterns.co.uk. We have a list of all the men on the Roll of Honour for Castleton (click here to see Eddie’s Extracts Roll) listed and you may find that your family member is pictured. We’d love to hear your stories and see your family photos.

It is easy to forget how much these families gave up, how a whole generation of young men was lost and how much the community needs to remember not only the sacrifice of those who died, but also the sacrifice of those who lived. The attempt to identify the men, their stories and their families is a way of shining a light on their lives. With no remaining veterans of the Great War, it is especially important that these faces do not become numbers or statistics. These men have names, families, memories and experiences that with research and your help, we will be able to record for generations to come.”

Frankie Quinn, Director, Red Barn Gallery said “The Red Barn Gallery is delighted to be involved in this important historical project. This project compliments our aim to inspire and educate through exhibitions, projects and workshops with the objective of encouraging the appreciation of photography in Belfast.

We have a particular interest in “Shoebox Archives”, photographs of people, places and events which have sat unseen for years. This recently unearthed treasure is an important part of our shared history and a must see for anyone with an interest in the history of our city.”

The exhibition launches on Thursday 3rd October 6pm – 9pm, and runs until Wednesday 13th November, at Red Barn Gallery, 43b Rosemary Street, Belfast. Opening hours Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm.

Everyone Welcome

Further information from: Karen O’Rawe / karen@castletonlanterns.co.uk

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Francis McCann, James McCann and James Magill

IDENTIFIED: Francis McCann, his brother James McCann and James Magill.

Francis Ernest and James McCann‘s parents were William McCann and Mary Bunting who were married on 10 March 1877 at Shore Street Presbyterian Church, Donaghadee. Francis was born in 1891 and James in 1895.

In 1901 William and Mary were living in Seaview Street with their 7 children: Andrew, Jane, William, Annie, Francis, James and Elizabeth. William McCann’s occupation is listed as a seaman.

By 1911 the family had moved to Glasgow Street. There were now only 5 children in the household, two of which were Francis and James. Francis is listed in the 1911 census as a Platers helper while James, aged 16 was a Rivetters boy.

James McCann Belfast Telegraph

James McCann (c. Nigel Henderson)

Francis served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and James served in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  On 1st July 1916 (known as The Somme), Lance Corporal James McCann was killed.

James is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial and his photo was listed in the Belfast Telegraph when he died. This enabled the identification of James as Slide Number 58.

James McCann, Royal Inniskilling Fusliers, Castleton Lanterns

James McCann Slide 58

David Morrow, a reader of the blog got in touch to tell us that these men were his relatives and was able to identify Francis Earnest McCann as Slide Number 5 and provide a great photo to confirm.

Francis Ernest McCann, Castleton Lanterns, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Francis Ernest McCann Slide 5

 

Francis Ernest McCann, Castleton Lanterns, Royal Inniskilling Fusliers

Francis Ernest McCann (c. David Morrow)

 

Francis Ernest McCann, Sarah Baird Crossan, Castleton lanterns

Francis Ernest McCann and Sarah Baird Crossan marriage 1916 (c. David Morrow)

Francis was married in 1916 to Sarah Baird Crossan, survived the war and went on to have children. He died in 1937 of cardiac failure having suffered from bronchial problems as a result of being gassed in the trenches. During the Belfast Blitz of April 1941, Francis’ wife Sarah and two of their daughters were sadly killed in Glasgow Street. One daughter survives today.

David was also able to confirm that Slide Number 58 was James McCann as suggested, evidenced by his treasured family photos.

James McCann, Royal Inniskilling Fusliers, Castleton lanterns

James McCann, Royal Inniskilling Fusliers (c. David Morrow

David supplied a letter written by James’ friend James Magill who wrote to his mother Mary to tell her how her son had died and how he had received a proper burial.

James Magill, James McCann, Castleton lanterns

Letter from James Magill to James McCann’s mother (c. David Morrow)

Another Royal Innskilling Fusilier, the letter writer James Magill had been wounded in France and the Belfast Telegraph had printed his photograph. We were then able to identify the man who wrote the letter James Magill, as Slide Number 73.  James Magill survived the war.

James Magill, Castleton Lanterns, Royal Inniskilling Fusliers

James Magill, Lantern Slide 73

James Magill, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Castleton lanterns

James Magill, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (c. Nigel Henderson)

These three men and all the Castleton Lanterns men were closley connected, brothers, best friends, pals and colleagues. It’s important to find their stories and tell them, to understand their lives and remember them. It is sad to hear the stories of those who were lost or wounded beside those who lived and flourished and I’m sure the families who gathered to watch the lantern slide show in 1918 must have felt something similar.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments