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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:
Guest post: Liam Hogan – Limerick City Library
Website Address: limerickww1.wordpress.com
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.
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.
Commemoration: 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.
Extra 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
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.
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.
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).
“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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place.
Find out more information by clicking here.
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 email@example.com or call Thomas on 079 2018 6314
The names the Society are researching are:
Roll of Honour for Castleton Presbyterian Church. Please note additions and edits at the end.
 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
 There are an additional two men recorded on the Memorial – John McIlroy and J. Patterson.
 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.
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!
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.
Thanks to relative Kathleen Morrison for the additional photographs and as always to http://www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com/
Identified: Samuel Fee: Royal Navy (SS/102801), Killed as a direct result of enemy action 1914 (Lantern Slide 4: Right hand side)
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.
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 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.
Samuel Fee joined the Royal Navy in April 1906, aged 18 years old, well before World War I broke out.
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.
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.)
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 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.