Lights out for a shared moment of reflection

Lisburn Garrison churchAt the headquarters of 38 (Irish) Brigade in Lisburn, final preparations have been made at the Garrison Church where members of the Armed Forces and their families will gather at 10pm for a service during which the lights will go out one by one until only a candle will remain to light the stained glass window.

Similar services are being held at Palace Barracks in Holywood and at Aldergrove.

The Armed Forces in NI are supporting civic commemorative events being held across Ireland to commemorate the service and sacrifices made by men and women across the services.

One such event is being held in St. Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, led by Dean of Belfast John Mann.

A candlelit vigil and act of remembrance will be held later tonight at the Cenotaph at Belfast City Hall.

Organiser Jeffrey Donaldson said: “We face a decade of significant centenaries in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland and I feel it is important that these should not become divisive.

“The global events that took place during 1914-1918 involved people from across the island and the political divide and had a profound effect on the history of Ireland in the 20th century.

“We owe it to those who sacrificed their lives with such valour to ensure that the centenary is used to promote better understanding between our various traditions on this island.

“The centennial commemorations of the war provide an opportunity to enhance our shared understanding of this history and to promote reconciliation.”

A member of the Royal Family and First Minister Peter Robinson will be present at the commemorative service along with a senior member of the Irish government and other community leaders from across Ireland.

Representatives of the Royal British Legion and regimental associations of the army will also attend.

The candlelit vigil will coincide with a similar event at Westminster Abbey and in other regional capitals across the UK.

It will be open to the public and those planning to attend are encouraged to bring a candle. The ceremony will include a short act of remembrance and wreath laying, with “lights out” in City Hall for a period during the vigil.

For other Lights Out events visit:

Lights Out

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

Free event: Historic Screening at Belfast City Hall 8th August

QFT On Film

QFT On Film

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

York Street Men Remembered

Alexandra Presbyterian Church is made up of two church communities, that of Castleton and York Street. York Street was destroyed during the Belfast Blitz and the congregations merged.  While the Castleton Lanterns slides feature men who were part of the Castleton congregation of 1914, the York Street men are just as important to Alexandra’s story.

As such here are a few of the York Street men:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Mapping Limerick’s Casualties during World War One

Guest post: Liam Hogan – Limerick City Library
Website Address:

As part of Limerick City Library’s strategy to improve access to local history resources through digitisation, I launched a Twitter account which tracked life in Limerick 100 years ago (@Limerick1914). As WW1 approached I asked the question, how will I communicate the scale of Limerick’s loss during World War One? This was one of the most traumatic events in Limerick’s history since the Great Famine. Over 1,000 violent deaths, the vast majority occurring out of sight of relatives and friends. I have sought to visually represent the scale of the death toll through a series of interactive maps. I predict the extent of the death toll will shock many people in Limerick. This part of our history has been submerged for so long, that many families may not even be aware that their relatives died during this conflict. heat_map

When I told my father I was working on this project, he suddenly revealed, for the first time, that one of my great-granduncles had died during the war. He did not have any details apart from his name. Michael Maher. After some research I discovered that Michael was from a working class family and toiled as a quarry man near Portroe, Co. Tipperary, was unmarried at 28 and semi-literate. He enlisted with the 1st Battalion Connaught Rangers in Killaloe, Co. Clare. Private Michael Maher died on the 11th July 1917 and is commemorated at the Basra Memorial in Iraq. In contrast to Michael’s absence from family memory, and representative of the arc of Irish history, my other granduncle, Frank McGrath takes centre stage. A Gaelic revivalist, from a middle class background, a member of the IRB and a decorated hurler and Irish dancer, Frank was Commandant of North Tipperary Brigade of the IRA during the War of Independence.

france_belgiumCommemoration: This map shows the location where each Limerick casualty is commemorated. Click on the placemark to identify the casualty. Each placemark is colour coded by age. I have generated individual GPS coordinates for every casualty. These coordinates are not the exact location of their plaque but are instead close to the commemoration site, giving each its own space.

info_windowExtra Features: We have also included a list and scans of the WW1 Obituaries that appeared in the Limerick Chronicle, links to the service records of the hundreds of Limerick men who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), links to various WW1 articles, heat maps, as well as presenting the source data (including links to the CWGC records and Wills of each casualty where available) that we used to create the various maps, and much more.

Liam Hogan B.Tech ¦ MA ¦ GradDipLIS

Limerick City Library

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

VIDEO: Castleton Lanterns at the NI War Memorial

The Castleton Lanterns display at the NI War Memorial runs until the end of May 2014. Thanks to Culture Northern Ireland for the coverage. Read the article by clicking here.

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

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 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 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

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