Annual pilgrimage to the cemeteries and battlefields of WW1
Tuesday 13 September
For ten members of the IGWS it was early start when we all met in Dublin airport at 04.30. ‘On duty’ for the tour were; Graham Evans, Les Newman, Brian & Mary Kenny, Mairead (Molly) Malone, Jamie Lynch, Thomas (Tee Pee) Brady , Ian Galloway, Darren McMahon and Joe Burke. Our flight took off at 07.30 and we arrived in Brussels around two hours later. We collected our Ford Galaxy hire cars and set off towards Mesen and the Messines Peace Village arriving at around midday. After unpacking and freshening-up we set off to Ieper (Ypres) for lunch, which was just a short drive away. After lunch and a walk around the town we set off back towards Mesen and the Messines Church. We then explored the front line about Messines and Wytschaerte, visiting the Lone Tree CWGC cemetery, mine craters and memorials to the 16th (Irish) Division and the 36th (Ulster) Division. We rounded of our day with a visit to the Island of Ireland Peace Park and Tower. The park’s central feature is a replica of an Irish Cloigtheach or Round Tower and was unveiled on 11 November 1998 by the President of Ireland Mary McAleese in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and HM King Albert II of Belgium. The park and memorial is dedicated to all Irishmen from whatever political persuasion or tradition that served and died in World War I, especially those in the three divisions raised in Ireland for the BEF; the 10th, 16th & 36th Divisions.
The 'Gang' at the new 16th (Irish) Division & 36th (Ulster) Division memorials at Wytschaerte where both are inscribed, 'Irish Brothers at Arms'.
Wednesday 14 September
We left the Peace Village after breakfast and drove to the Ploegsteert (Plug street) Wood area. We stopped at the Ploegsteert memorial to the missing and Hyde Park Corner CWGC cemetery where we found the grave of (Irishman) Rifleman Sean McBride of 2/Royal Irish Rifles who was shot at dawn for desertion. We then visited the location of the 1914 Christmas Truce and its memorial cross erected at the site by the Khaki Chums. The weather was bright and sunny, if just a little cool. On our return to Ieper we stopped at the Bedford House CWGC cemetery where we found the grave of Bombardier B. H. Robinson of the Royal Field Artillery. The reason for our search for this particular grave was that one of our members, Brian Kenny, had acquired the man’s bible.
Back in Ieper we visited the ‘In Flanders Field’ Museum at the famous Ypres Cloth Hall, then St. George’s Memorial Church and St. Martin’s Cathedral.
After lunch we visit the small town of Poperinghe, which was the British HQ throughout the First World War being kilometres behind the front line. In Poperinghe we visited the Talbot Hotel, otherwise phonetically known as Toc-H during the war.
In 1915, Chaplain Philip (Tubby) Clayton opened a ‘soldiers' house’ in what was a large family home and transformed it into an ‘Every Man's Club’ where all soldiers were welcome, regardless of rank or status. It was later named Talbot House after Gilbert Talbot, the son and brother of the Bishop of Winchester and senior army chaplain (respectively) who was killed in action in 1915.
The ‘spine-tingling’ part of our visit were the two prisoner’s cells located within the old British HQ building and Town Hall, where the prisoners were marched into the courtyard to receive their ‘last rites’ before being ‘shot at dawn’. The single wooden post in the courtyard was a poignant reminder of the 306 men that were executed for one reason or another during WW1.
The execution post - Poperinghe The condemned man's cell - Poperinghe
Before returning to our home base for the tour we stopped off at the New Poperinghe cemetery to view the combined allied graves.
Thursday 15 September
On this day we started with a visit to the southern flank of the Salient around Zillebeke. Starting with Hill 60 under blue skies and bright sunshine we discovered the scars of the trench system around its high point and the remains of its block-houses (Pill-Boxes).
Hill 60 Blockhouse
There are three WW1 Monuments on and around Hill 60; at its summit lies a monument for the Queen Victoria Rifles, beside the road next to the railway bridge is the Australian Tunnelling Company memorial with its WW2 bullet holes peppered on the plaque, and next to that is the memorial for the 14th. Light Division. Hill 60 was the scene of vicious fighting between 1915 and 1917 until it, and its German occupiers, were devastated by mines in 1917. We were able to see the remains of a number of mine craters at Hill 60, Battle Wood and The Bluff, including the Caterpillar Mine.
From Hill 60 we made our way to Hill 62 and Sanctuary Wood where the Canadian Corps monument is located. A walk through the old preserved trench system, which no doubt included some ‘modern additions’, was thoroughly enjoyed by all. It certainly provided a ‘feel’ of what being in a WW1 trench may have been like. One of our younger members explored a tunnel, surprising us all when he reappeared in a section of the trench system quite different from than was expected. After the trenches were thoroughly explored we visited the Hill 62 museum and its large collection of relics.
Our next stop was at the Hooge Crater, museum and CWGC cemetery. The crater is located within the grounds of a hotel and over the years has filled to become a lake. In recent years a trench has been added following the ‘ghost’ of the original 1915 trench before the mine was detonated, in which many iron relics have been found and displayed. The Hooge Museum was just along the road from the crater and located within the old chapel. We enjoyed the excellent collection of relics, displays and dioramas. We finished this part of our trip in the CWGC cemetery across the road where we sat in the warm sunshine with our packed lunches. After being ‘fed and watered’ we headed for Zonnebeke Manor and the 1917 Passchedaele Museum. Here we found the second largest collection of WWI memorabilia in Belgium telling the story of that long struggle with images, historical artefacts, movies, uniforms and weapons of both allied and German armies in life-like dioramas.
From the stunning manor and its beautiful grounds we drove a short distance to the huge and magnificent Tyne Cot cemetery. Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in the world and contains more burials than any other Commonwealth cemetery of either the First or Second World War. It is a concentration cemetery, in that it contains the remains of 11,954 soldiers who were killed between 1914/18 and gathered from smaller burial sites as well as those originally interred there in 1917. The cemetery’s Cross of Sacrifice was built over a German Blockhouse, which became a dressing station after the ridge was captured by British and Commonwealth forces in 1917, hence the location of its first burials. Tyne Cot was the last visit of our day and we returned to the Messines Peace Village to get ready for the most important part of our trip, the laying of a poppy wreath in memory of all Irish men and women killed in the Great War.
The Last Post and wreath laying ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ieper is famous the world over and for the Irish Great War Society it was a profound privilege to be able to take part and honour the fallen men and women from the island of Ireland. The solemn ceremony has taken place every night at 8pm since 1928 with the buglars being provide by the Ieper Fire Service. We assembled at the Menin Gate 30 minutes beforehand, dressed in black trousers and green society polo shirts. We took our positions at 7.55pm and waited for the Ieper Fire Service buglers to start the ceremony. As the buglers stood ready to play the Last Post we were called to attention. The Last Post was followed by the exhortation, the famous 4th verse of Binyon's poem 'For the Fallen'; 'They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old: age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them'. After one minute of silence Graham Evans (wreath bearer) with guards of honour, Ian Galloway and Mairead Malone, marched across the Menin Gate road to lay our poppy wreath in the north vault. There was a huge crowd present and the silence during the ceremony was ‘deafening’ as befitting the event. The event closed with the buglars playing the 'Reveille'.
After the ceremony there was an opportunity to take a few photos with the Fire Service buglers and some old soldiers. Our duty done, we made straight for the 'Vivaldi' restaurant for an evening meal and a celebratory drink where we reflected with pride on our part in the ceremony; something we will all remember for the rest of our lives.
Friday 16 September
We made an early start for our 75 mile drive to Albert and the Somme where our first visit of the day was to the Somme 1916 Trench Museum in Albert. The museum has been created in the tunnels and vaults beneath the town and contained many exceptional and realistic dioramas.
Somme 1916 Trench Museum - Albert
It has a mini theatre that shows a film about the general history of the war; there are also several collections of original photograph along with many display cases full of artefacts and personal items belonging to men who fought on the Somme. After a quick visit to the museum shop for a few gifts we set off for Thiepval via Pozières and the Australian Imperial Forces’ memorials at Mouquet (Mucky) Farm and ‘The Windmill’. Also at Pozières, we stopped to admire the small but distinctive Tank corps memorial surrounded by a fence constructed using Mk IV/V Tank drive chains and 6 pounder sponson guns.
At Thiepval we wandered around the memorial to 72,000 British and South African men missing in action presumed killed on the Somme between 1916 and 1918. We left Thiepval and drove the short distance to the Ulster Tower and the 36th (Ulster) Division’s memorial at the Schwaben Redoubt. The monument is a facsimile of the Helen's Tower, which stands in the grounds of the Clandeboye Estate near Bangor, County Down in Northern Ireland. At the entrance to the memorial is a plaque commemorating the names of the nine men of the Division who were awarded the Victoria Cross during the Somme battles.
At Beaumont Hamel we entered the magnificent Newfoundland Park; Canada’s memorial to the men of Newfoundland, an independent Dominion of Britain during WW1 later becoming a province of Canada. There we saw the Newfoundland Regiment’s emblem and memorial, a large bronze Caribou standing on top of a fifty foot high cairn of Newfoundland granite. The site is one of the few places on the former Western Front where a visitor can see the trench lines of the First World War and the related terrain in a preserved natural state. Newfoundland Park also contains two other memorials and three CWGC cemeteries that we explored; the ‘Y’ Ravine Cemetery, Hawthorn Ridge No. 2 Cemetery and the unusual mass burial site of Hunter's Cemetery. At the entrance to the Park is the 29th Division memorial and at its far end is the monument to the 51st (Highland) Division. Before leaving the park we went into the Visitor’s centre, which was an excellent finalé to our visit.
On route to Longueval and Delville Wood we stopped off at the Old Blighty Tea Room in La Boisselle for some much needed refreshment. The warm sun had taken its toll and we were all in need of a cup of tea, or some other refreshing drink and a snack. Interestingly, this little watering-hole also had a good selection of ‘iron relics’ and other memorabilia for sale at very reasonable prices, of which, some of our party took full advantage of!
The South African National Memorial dedicated to its WW1 and WW2 fallen is situated in the cool serenity of Delville Wood and was the next on list of places to see. The wood now fully grown still bore witness to the ravages of war after ninety years with its, just visible, trench lines amid the trees.
There was a personal aim to our visit to the Delville Wood CWGC cemetery and that was to search for a relation of long time neighbours and friends of Brian Kenny’s family in McCurtain street, Gorey. We found the grave of Pte. Michael Connors of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and took photos for the surviving family members.
Pte. M. Connors grave and details in the cemetery's Book of Remeberance
After another very satisfying day we headed for our temporary home in Belgium for a well earned dinner and a few beers.
Saturday 17 September
Our last day and there were still a few places to visit! The weather had changed overnight and the sky was overcast with some light rain but we couldn’t complain because we had had fantastic weather all week. Our first visit of the day was for some more personal research, this time for member Ian Galloway who was searching for the grave of his great uncle at Dozinghem CWGC cemetery near Poperinghe. When we arrived at the cemetery we discovered that it was in the location of a casualty clearing station (CCS No.4), this meant that the Black Watch man had died from his wounds.
Ian Galloway at the grave of his great uncle - Pte. A.Wann of the Black Watch.
From there we set off for the German military cemetery at Langemark and in stark contrast to the allied cemeteries we had seen, Langemark appeared dark and sullen, although the weather and the towering Oak trees probably contributed to the sombre atmosphere. Inside the stone built entrance are two rooms containing oak panels on which the names of soldiers known to have been buried in the cemetery but have not been identified in one room, and a carved trench map in the other.
Langemark is a concentration cemetery, that is; the remains of men interred there are largely from smaller graveyards and with the unidentified remains found when the battlefields were cleared during and after the war. There are many thousands interred in a large mass grave called ‘the Comrades Grave’ (Kameraden Grab). Opposite the entrance and Comrades Grave we saw the bronze statues of the ‘Four Mourning Soldiers’.
On our way to Boesinghe (now Boezinge) we stopped off at Essex Farm CWGC cemetery and the advanced dressing station bunkers. The cemetery and bunkers lie on the east bank of the Yser Canal and it is said that it was there that Major (Dr.) John McCrea of the 1st Canadian Field Artillery Brigade ambulance wrote his poem, ‘In Flanders Field’ as a tribute to a friend he buried there. Also at Essex Farm we saw the tall memorial to the 49th (West Riding) Division
At Boesinghe we visited the memorial to the Irish poet Francis Ledwidge and also his grave at the Artillery Wood CWGC cemetery.
The Francis Ledwidge memorial
Just outside the town we discovered, after a bit of driving around, the reconstructed 1917 ‘Yorkshire Trench’, which was located in a large industrial estate. A small portion of the trench had been reconstructed whilst the ‘ghosts’ of the underground tunnels and bunkers were marked out in gravel above ground. Also on display was a reconstructed section of a trench ‘A’ frame system and duckboards.
We decided to return to Ieper for lunch and to visit the Ramparts Museum (and pub!!). Once again we discovered some fantastic dioramas and experienced some of the realism of Salient life in its reconstructed trenches, tunnels and dug-outs, all with great sound effects.
In the afternoon we visited the Irish Farm cemetery near Ieper and the grave of double VC winner Noel Chavasse’s at Brandhoek CWGC cemetery.
Our last visit of the day was to the memorial and grave of the Wexford M.P. William Redmond at the Locre (now Loker) Hospice CWGC Cemetery in West Vlaanderen.
The William Redmond MP (Wexford) memorial
We returned to the Peace Village to pack and get ready for our last evening meal in Ieper before having an early night in preparation for our early morning start for Brussels airport.
In reflection, we had a fantastic trip and were able to visit many battlefields, military cemeteries, memorials and museums at the Ypres Salient and on the Somme. And of course, being priviledged to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate for all Irish men and women that lost their lives in the Great War was a proud moment for us all; one that will not be forgotten. Finally, our members who were carrying out their own personal research whilst we were in France and Flanders were successful in having found everything they required. All round, an extremely successful trip!
Roll-on next year!!
Salute! Military show – Malahide Castle
As with every year the society attended the Salute! Military show this weekend. This year at Malahide Castle and organised by the Association of Irish Military Enthusiasts (AIME). Arriving on the Friday in a rather strong downpour of rain members pitched tents and laid out the camp, this was followed by a well-deserved supper and some catching up.
On the Saturday morning most members rose early and set about ‘kitting up’, they were later joined by a sleepy looking drummer boy and, I will admit, a dreary eyed 2nd Lieutenant! The beginning of the day was spent laying out our displays and interacting with the public before we were join by our guests; Mr Ron Moore, Mr Tony Baker MBE. Our guests were treated to lunch by our chairman Graham Evans before we took to the field and did our usual display of uniforms, equipment and trench life. During our display Mr Moore was invited onto the field to inspect the troops and his guardsman eye didn’t fail to notice every possible fault, which earned the men a punishment run. Following this we had the arrival of another member, TP and his Ford Model T truck, which was added to the display and a further guest Sgt Maj Harry Hughes (Rtd). The show closed at 6 o’clock. The AGM was held on the evening of the Saturday and members discussed and voted on various changes we wished to make for the coming year.
Sunday’s early morning followed much the same format as Saturday with camp life running its course. At midday the men were fallen in for an inspection by the Chairman. Following this, and due in no small part to the sound of the 19th century cannon beside us, Kenny our lurcher- collie cross mascot (and pet to the chairman) took leave of his post and conducted a recognisance of the surrounding area. I’m glad to say he was reunited with his master a few hours later!
All in all the Salute! show provided an electric end to the season and a great weekend where members met many friends, old and new. I would like to extend, on behalf of the society, many thanks and congratulations to the organisers. Last but of course not least I would like to express my gratitude to our own nurses, Mary and Molly, who as always manned the first aid dressing station display throughout the whole weekend and distributed many of the society’s flyers.
Cork City Gaol Military Show
We were pleased to accept a return invitation to the Cork City Gaol military show, which this year was in aid of the Marymount Hospice. We were allocated a much larger area for our display and we took full advantage of it. Joining us this year were the Cork Branch of the Western Front Association with old friends; Jean Prendergast(Military researcher), Ollie Griffin of the Royal Munster Fusiliers Association and Ross Glennon (WFA & IGWS)with his impressive medal groups display. As usual our member’s, Eugene Power and Brian Kenny displayed artefacts and memorabilia from their own extensive WW1 collections.
The IGWS were located on the lawns on both sides of the path leading to the entrance of the Gaol’s main building with our encampment and forward aid post on one side, and the main display tent (including the WFA stand) on the other. The encampment consisted of a row of bell tents including an Orderly Sergeant’s tent, which presented a typical kit layout and a duty desk.
As we had two new recruits the opportunity was taken to teach them basic drill, which was appreciated by all (except the recruits of course who were given a hard time by our own Irish Defence Force's Sargeant!).
Once again, we were amazed by the amount of interest there was in the Great War and the attention that our displays generated; we are certainly very proud to say that again we have received great praise for our displays and our hard work throughout the year from members of the public and re-enacters alike.
38th (Irish) Brigade Families Day, Ballykinler Camp, Co.Down
Our display at the Killyleagh Castle event in July impressed an officer of the UK's 2/Rifles who was organising a family's event at their Co.Down Brigade Camp and it led to the IGWS being invited to take part.
Eleven members of the Society attended the event, which (unfortunately) did not benefit from good weather. The rain and mist kept the attendance relatively low but our spirits were not dampened as we provided our usual display. Our uniforms, kit and equipment created much interest from civilians and service personnel alike. Our forward aid post also aroused particular interest from the modern day battlefield medics who were pitched next to our tent. Their frequent visits to our FAP tent was an indication of their interest in our display.
Barryscourt Castle, Carrigtohill, Cork
This event started with our members arriving on Friday night to set-up our camp in preparation for the series of events scheduled over the Saturday and Sunday. It was a multi-period event which included; a viking settlement, WW2 'Screaming Eagles' encampment, Irish Coast Guard and many more to name but a few. This event differed from our usual presentations in that we combined both our static exhibition of WW1 artefacts and memorabilia with our living history displays. As usual, our forward aid post and nursing staff aroused much attention and interest, especially the treatment of a 'wounded soldier' by the senior nursing officer and medical orderly.
New rifle and marching drills were practiced in full public view on Saturday and attracted a good sized audience.
Our 13 pounder gun was present on both days where all the children were absolutely thrilled as they counted down and gave the order to fire with raptures of cheers after the gun boomed into life.
On Sunday, our friend T.P. Brady of Arklow arrived with his period Model T Ford ambulance, which was once again a fantastic addition to our display. Many thanks TP! Thanks also go to Colm Doyle and Paul Lennox of the Cork based, 'Screamimg Eagles' (WW2 US 101st Airborn)who assisted us by dressing and portraying WW1 German soldiers.
Cork Public Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork
'Understanding the Great War' was the first event arranged by the newly established Cork Branch of the Western Front Association and the Irish Great War Society were happy to be a part of it. A number of IGWS members are also members of the WFA and so there was the added interest to make the day as successful as possible; and it really was! The first thing the visitors and passers-by saw as they appoached the museum was a typical WW1 camp centred around a bell tent. Our camp included a period table and chairs, a genuine WW1 canvas wash basin, mounted Lewis gun and c1916 Cycle Corps bicycle equipped with a rifle mount for a SMLE, all surrounded by a barbed-wire picket. Inside our members private collections of artifacts, relics, medical equipment and medal sets complimented the WFA's display and excellent lectures. The future bodes well for further joint ventures.
The IGWS congratulates the WFA Cork Branch on the success of its first event and sends its best wishes for the future.
Armed Forces Day, Carrickfergus
For the second consecutive year the Irish Great War Society was asked to provide a display at the Carrickfergus Armed Forces Day celebrations. The event took place in the car park at Carrickfergus Harbour overlooked by the impressive Carrickfergus Castle.
All three service branches were present as well as representatives from the Royal British Legion and several ex-servicemen’s organisations. Although we only played a very small part, our display and uniforms attracted much attention from the general public, ex-servicemen and modern day military personnel alike.
We provided the only Guard of Honour for the Armed Forces Parade at the end of its march where our general salute was recognised and reciprocated by the Band of the Royal Irish Regiment, servicemen and the standard bearers of the various organisations.
After an eventful and sometimes busy day, we lined up again to co-provide a Guard of Honour as the Band of the Light Cavalry ‘Beat the Retreat’, and for the lowering of the Standards. The latter of which, one of our members (Darren McMahon)had the honour bestowed upon him to be the Standard bearer for the Borneo and Malaya Veternan's Association.
The Pattern of Carbury, Kildare
The IGWS took part in The Pattern of Carbury for the first time, which proved to be an enjoyable day for all. This was the 4th year for the event to be held and was in aid of the renovation of the Holy Trinity Church in Derrinturn, Carbury, Co. Kildare.
The Pattern commenced with a parade along the main road led by the IGWS colour party carrying the National flag; this was followed by the Newbridge Brass Band and the IGWS Company. Behind the IGWS Company were the many clubs and organisations from the local area and was a great sight to see. The parade took off at the Carbury Parish Hall, making its way through the centre of Derrinturn and finished in the Parish Field to begin the official opening of the event.
The IGWS benefitted from a wonderful display of medals and pictures by Society member, Ross Glennon, who is also the Public Relations officer for the Western Front Association’s Cork Branch. His display was much appreciated by the Society and was well received by the public. Our arena display included a description of equipment and kit, a gas attack and explanation of different gas masks, followed by a re-wiring party. We also did a trench raid and captured a German who, incidentally, was a member of the public press-ganged into the roll. We ended with our ‘Tragedy of the Somme’ scenario and General Salute.
On a more humorous note, our ‘big strong soldiers’ decided to take part in the Tug-O-War competition, but little did they know that they were up against the local Tug-O-War champions and although they gave it a ‘fair go’, they came out of it (to say the least) ‘a little worse for wear’!
The public interest was huge and the feedback was phenomenal with people coming out of their way to praise the Society. Overall, this was a successful event which earned us an invitation to possibly return next year.
Mairéad (Molly) Malone (Guest reporter)
The Gorey Summer Show, Wexford
The IGWS was asked to attend the 152nd annual Gorey Show, which was held on Saturday 18th June in Clonatin, Gorey, Co. Wexford. It was our first outing at this Show and only our second ever in Co. Wexford, (see the earlier report on the Gorey St. Patrick’s Day Parade). The IGWS display included our forward aid post with its extensive surgical and dental instruments along with other medical equipment and ably attended by our nurses in their authentic attire. Also on display was a typical bell tent as used in abundance during the Great War. There was a large collection of WW1 medals, genuine relics and memorabilia presented by members, Brian Kenny, Ross Glennon and Eugene Power; all of which are also members of the Western Front Association’s Cork Branch.
An increasing occurrence is the number of visitors we see throughout the display season that have their own interesting Great War stories to tell and this show was no different. Mr Albert Scully of Ballycanew told us about his grandfather who was killed whilst serving with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in India. Another local person brought in a death plaque and a ‘next of kin letter’ belonging to one of her family members. One lady told us about a family member that served in the Great War and was the ‘first man’ to be married in St. Michaels RC church (Gorey) wearing a British uniform. He suffered serious wounds to his face and arm caused by enemy rifle fire on the 10/11/1918, the day before the Armistice! We hope to receive more information from those visitors so that their family member’s stories can be included on our website’s ‘Your Stories’.
During the day, four IGWS members were interviewed live on air by presenter Alan Ennis of Wexford’s Southeast Radio. Chairman, Graham Evans talked about the IGWS; Brian Kenny about trench life; Ross Glennon about the Western Front Association and Eugene power about weapons.
We are very honoured indeed to have already been asked to return for next year’s show and to present an even larger display.
Brian Kenny (Guest reporter)
Killyleagh Castle, Down
The Irish Great War Society took part in an event organised by the Royal British Legion at Killyleagh Castle-County Down on the 11-12th June 2011. The Military Tattoo and Poppy Day event was in celebration of the Legion’s 90th anniversary.
The show started on Saturday with the IGWS providing the guard of honour outside the castle for the standards of the Royal British Legion as they entered the castle gates. Shortly after the procession of standards, we also provided the guard of honour and gave a General Salute at opening of the Tattoo for Lord Hamilton, the British National colours and Royal British Legion standards.
As normal our bell-tents, advanced dressing station and the 13 pounder Artillery Gun attracted a great deal of interest over the weekend and our live display on Saturday night was greatly enhanced by the twilight. Our display ended in a 1 gun 10 round Fire mission.
The IGWS was invited to this inaugral re-enactor's event at the National Trust's (UK) 17th Century Plantation home, and what a fantastic setting and event it was! Set amongst walled gardens, fields and woodland the main house and out-buildings provided a great back drop to our Great War display. The weather could not be bettered either and obviously contributed to the high numbers of visitors. Our bell-tents, advanced dressing station and 13 pounder cannon attracted a great deal of interest over the weekend and our live displays were greatly appreciated.
Our live display included the usual introduction to the IGWS and description of the serviceman's kit and equipment. This was followed by a gas attack drill and no-man's-land 're-wiring' party. Our usual Somme advance was extended by including a failed casualty evacuation, which brought great applause. The IGWS display ended with a realistic gun battery exercise, which was greatly enhanced by pyrotechnic explosions further down 'the battlefield'.
It was also an opportunity for our members to 'benefit' from extra drill and marching practice, which was again enjoyed by the public as we marched along the roads of the estate.
The Gorey St. Patrick's Day Parade, Wexford.
The Co. Wexford town of Gorey celebrated its 30th annual St. Patrick's Day parade and we were proud to have taken part for the first time. There was a huge crowd in attendance that lined both sides of the road from the 1798 Monument at the top of the town down through the Main Street and into Esmond Street at the bottom of the town where the civic and community dignitaries were seated. We were very well received and were pleasantly surprized to discover that the Irish Great War Society had won 1st Prize in the vintage entry category, especially as most of us were not aware that any such awards were being made.
Special thanks go to Keith Horan and TP Brady for supplying their vintage 'staff-car' and ambulance lorry; both of which, greatly enhanced our display. The staff car led our display followed by our standard bearer and guards, with the ambulance lorry bringing up the rear.
The 1st Prize award won by the IGWS
Bishopscourt Nursing Home, Cork
On Saturday 26th February we opened our display season when six members provided a short presentation at the Bishopscourt Nursing Home in Cork, assisted once again by our friend Jean Prendergast (WW1 historian & researcher). It turned out to be a lovely day and was very much a day that had a 'feel good' factor about it. Some of the female residents still had a 'twinkle in their eye' for a man in uniform, which resulted in quite a few photos taken!!