Armistice Day 1996

A visit to the Somme in September 1996 and a subsequent statement that brought Paddy Harte and Glen Barr together to discuss the influence and memories of Flanders and the Somme, which could greatly influence present day Ireland. To test these opinions it was agreed that a group would visit these areas for Armistice Day 1996. Among the group was Andrew Coleman T.C. who was then chairman of the Bandon Committee along with the Mayor of Theipval joined with them and laid wreaths and fresh flowers at the Ulster Tower on the 11th Nov. 1996 to commemorate those who fought and died from the 36th Ulster Division. At the Celtic Cross in Guillemont, honours were rendered to those who fought and died from the 16th Irish Division. 

The Mayor joined the wreath laying at the main monument in Theipval, the walls of which contain the names of 72,000 soldiers of many nations, including some from Bandon whose bodies were never found. The ceremony concluded with the Last Post and Reveille being sounded and a pledge read by Paddy Harte and Glenn Barr.

The group also visited a number of cemeteries including Tyne Cot, which contain 13,000 headstones, and a list of 34,000 names on its walls of those whose bodies were never found. It is one of the largest war cemeteries in the world. The Menen Gate, Ypres [Ieper] was also visited where the names of 54,000 dead are listed who were never found.

Since 1922 except during W.W.2, members of the town’s Fire Brigade sound The Last Post and Reveille each night at 8 o’clock, when the traffic is stopped entering Ypres by the police to allow the ceremony to take place.

From this humble beginning, A Journey of Reconciliation Trust was set up and a site purchased on Messines Ridge to construct Peace Park and build a Round Tower. It was in this part of Flanders where both the 16th Irish and the 36th Ulster Division fought as ONE Division, where both Catholic and Protestant fought together as comrades side by side. (Click here for printable version)

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