Minister Humphreys to attend Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in Belfast and announces other World War I commemorative initiatives
Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, TD, will this Sunday (12th November) attend the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in Belfast, where she will lay a laurel wreath, to remember those who died in the First World War. The Minister will be joined by the British Minister for Defence, People and Veterans, Mr Tobias Ellwood MP, as well as the Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala McAllister. Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday commemorations will take place across the island of Ireland this weekend, including ceremonies in Belfast and Enniskillen in Northern Ireland and in St Patrick’s Cathedral and Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.
Speaking in advance of the ceremony, Minister Humphreys said:
“I am honoured to represent the Irish Government at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Belfast Cenotaph to commemorate all of those who died during World War I. This weekend we will remember in a special way the men and women from across the island of Ireland, who served and gave their lives during World War I. Although inspired by different motivations, they all shared the harsh uncertainties of war and the trauma of the battlefield as well as the enduring hope of a safe return to their loved ones. We remember too their families and the grief and hardship that they endured.”
Minister Humphreys today also announced a funding allocation of €25,000 to support The Hill 70 Memorial Project – a significant commemorative Canadian World War I initiative. This funding allocation of €25,000 will support the development of two Victoria Cross Memorial Walkways as part of the Hill 70 Memorial, near Loos in France, which will be dedicated specifically to two Irish-Canadian recipients of the Victoria Cross from different parts of our island – Company Sergeant Major Robert Hill Hanna and Private Michael James O’Rourke. The walkways will commemorate the contributions of these courageous Irish Canadian soldiers during the Battle of Hill 70 and will pay tribute to their legacy.
Separately, the Minister announced a funding allocation of €10,000 to support ‘A Broken Tree’, a celebration of the life and work of Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge, the poet, Irish volunteer and soldier, who died in the Battle of Passchendaele on 31st July 1917. This special seminar and concert have been curated by the renowned composer and member of Aosdána, Michael Holohan and take place in partnership with the National Library and the National Gallery on Saturday, 11th November. Admission to both events is free.
Minister Humphreys said:
“I am also delighted to announce funding of €25,000 to support ‘The Hill 70 Memorial Project, a significant Canadian World War I commemorative initiative. The Irish Government’s support of this important project reflects the strong and cordial relationship between Ireland and Canada and our close historical, cultural and economic links, which have developed from the time of the Great Irish Famine. The Irish Government is supporting the development of a specific element of the monument, which is situated near the town of Loos in France – two Victoria Cross Memorial Walkways, which will be dedicated to two Irish-Canadian recipients of the Victoria Cross from different parts of our island – Company Sergeant Major Robert Hill Hanna and Private Michael James O’Rourke. This presents a significant opportunity to commemorate, with a very fitting tribute, these and the many other Irish-Canadians who fought and died during the Battle of Hill 70; and also to raise awareness of the historic close ties between our two countries.
“I am also very pleased to announce funding of €10,000 to support ‘A Broken Tree’- a special seminar and concert on 11th November, curated by the renowned composer, Michael Holohan, in collaboration with the National Library and National Gallery, to celebrate the poetry of Francis Ledwidge. I am very moved that such a distinguished group of speakers, poets and performers have come together to celebrate Francis Ledwidge’s life and legacy with this very special event and I commend all involved.”
Michael Holohan added:
“This concert is particularly significant for me as it brings together most of the classical music settings of Ledwidge – the first of which were composed in 1918 and 1919 by Michael Head and Ivor Gurney, who were also involved in WWI. Their compositions were a very personal response to Ledwidge’s poetry. Michael McGlynn and I revisited Ledwidge’s work in the 1980s and 1990s, which generated significant momentum in reviving interest among composers in Ledwidge as a poet.”
Note for Editors:
Canada’s Hill 70 Memorial Project:
The objective of The Hill 70 Memorial Project is to bring the events of the Battle of Hill 70 to the forefront of Canada’s World War I historical narrative. This Battle took place between 15th and 25th August 1917 near the strategic town of Lens, France and it marked the first occasion during WWI that a Canadian had commanded the Canadian Corps in action. Six Victoria Crosses were awarded to members of the Canadian Corps who fought in the battle, including two Irish-Canadian recipients. Michael O’Rourke (born in 1878 in County Limerick) and Robert Hill Hanna (born in 1887 in Kilkeel, County Down) were both awarded the Victoria Cross for their acts of bravery.
This battle resulted in a key victory for the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the World War I. It is estimated that over 19,000 Canadian soldiers of Irish descent served in the CEF between 1914 and 1918. From the Battle of Hill 70 onwards, Canadians were at the forefront of all major initiatives and the establishment of this rapport led to Canadian participation at the Treaty of Versailles. This battle was, therefore, a significant moment in Canada’s journey from colony to full nationhood.
The Irish Government’s funding allocation of €25,000 will support the development of two Victoria Cross Memorial Walkways, which will be dedicated specifically to two Irish-Canadian recipients of the Victoria Cross from different parts of our island – Company Sergeant Major Robert Hill Hanna and Private Michael James O’Rourke. The walkways will commemorate the contributions of these courageous Irish Canadian soldiers during the Battle of Hill 70 and will pay tribute to their legacy.
‘A Broken Tree’, a special seminar and concert on 11 November 2017 to celebrate the life and legacy of the Irish War Poet Francis Ledwidge
The programme on 11th November opens with a seminar at the National Library, beginning at 11 am, where a number of distinguished speakers, academics and poets will reflect upon the life and poetry of Francis Ledwidge and also the Welsh war poet, Hedd Wyn. Susan Connolly will also recite poetry from her new sequence of poems, The Orchard Keeper, exploring the life of Francis Ledwidge.
The seminar is followed by a concert in the National Gallery, beginning at 3.30 pm. This concert brings together a wide range of classical music settings of Ledwidge’s poetry and will feature performances from Anúna and other artists. The concert will also tie in with the opening of Aftermath: The War Landscapes of William Orpen, which also opens in the National Gallery on 11th November.
‘A Broken Tree’ – a programme of free events, conceived by the composer and Aosdána member Michael Holohan, celebrates the life of the Irish War Poet Francis Ledwidge. It comprises two events on 11 November – a seminar in the National Library of Ireland from 11 am to 1 pm, and a concert at the National Gallery of Ireland, which begins at 3.30 pm.
A number of speakers will participate in the Ledwidge Seminar in the National Library, including:
- John Quinn – The Poet of the Blackbird : an illustrated talk by broadcaster and writer on the life and work of Francis Ledwidge;
- Dr Lucy Collins UCD – Francis Ledwidge: Writing Landscape in a Time of War: a talk about the poetry of Ledwidge;
- Dr Nerys Williams UCD – Community of the Black Chair: Encountering Hedd Wyn and Francis Ledwidge, will speak about the Welsh poet Hedd Wyn who was killed on the same day as Ledwidge and is buried very close to him in Artillery Wood Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium; and
- John Quinn will perform the Dublin launch of The Orchard Keeper (Shearsman Books) by the poet Susan Connolly. The poet will recite from her new sequence of poems about Francis Ledwidge.
Admission is free and advance booking is not required.
The concert at the National Gallery of Ireland (The Shaw Room) will bring together a wide range of classical music settings to Ledwidge’s poetry:
- Louise Martyn, soprano and Annalisa Monticelli, pianist will perform Michael Head’s song cycle Over the Rim of the Moon (1919) and the song Desire in Spring by Ivor Gurney (1918);
- Michael Holohan, composer and pianist, will be joined by Hannah O’Brien, soprano and Rebecca Draisey- Collishaw, oboe and cor anglais in a performance of his new Ledwidge song cycle The Hills are Crying (2017); and
- the renowned Irish choir Anúna will perform a selection of Ledwidge settings by the composer and the choir’s musical director Michael McGlynn from their albums Behind The Closed Eye (2003) and Songs Of The Whispering Things (2017).
Admission to the concert is free but advance booking is required. Tickets can be secured by clicking on the link: https://www.nationalgallery.ie/francis-ledwidge-centenary-concert-0