Bandon War Memorial Committee
a press conference in the Westbury Hotel, Dublin on the evening of Monday 24th
Nov. 1997,both Paddy Harte and Glen Barr formally announced the establishment
and registration of “ A JOURNEY OF RECONCILIATION TRUST “ of which they both
were joint executive chairmen. Among those present were Andrew Coleman T.C.,
Barry Ellis, and Billy Good of the Bandon Committee.
were unveiled to build a Peace Park and construct a Round Tower on Messines
Ridge, West Flanders. The aim of the trust was to promote reconciliation between
all people from the island of Ireland. An Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern T. D.
having endorsed the construction of the memorial, pledged a government
contribution of £150,000 to the
Tuesday morning 25th Nov. both trustees and patrons travelled to
Belgium, which included both Barry Ellis and Billy Good, to meet the
Burgomeister of West Flanders, Mr. Jean Liefooghe, at Messines for an
inter-denominational ceremony and the “ Turning of the Sod “ on the site for
the memorial .The construction of which was to involve young Catholic and
Protestant people from both North and South of the Island of Ireland. Two young
men from the Bandon area namely Andrew Burns, Bandon and Donal Coomey,
Timoleague were involved with the project.
design of the Park and Round Tower symbolises on site the ideas and features
representative of the entire Island of Ireland. Four areas characteristic of the
Provinces form part of the Park. The
Round Tower was chosen as it pre-dates the Reformation and Political division in
Ireland. As such it represents an Island free from modern bias. No one political
or religious group can lay claim to it. The symbol of ancient Ireland,
Newgrange, is replicated in the design so that the position of the sun will
shine down its axis, and enter an opening in the Tower at 11.00 am on 11th
Nov. which was the exact hour and date of the Armistice in 1918.
Paul Kellett from Dublin of the Irish army and Private Christopher Dickenson
from Antrim of the Royal Irish Regiment performed the sod turning. During the
inter-denominational service those present recited the Peace Pledge. At a
subsequent reception the group were welcomed by the Burgomeister on behalf of
the town council of Messines, in his welcoming he reminded those present that
the following year would be 80 years since the end of the war in which their
little town was completely destroyed after 4 years of shelling and fighting.
people of Messines will never forget the young men who came to Flanders and
the Somme to fight for their freedom .The Park and Tower would be a symbol of
friendship between the Belgian and Irish people and be one more reason to be
known as a “Tower of Peace”.
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