Friday, 1 July 2016
Last night the Great Hall at Stormont resounded to the music of the bagpipes, the fife and the Lambeg drum.
The Ulster-Scots Agency was launching a booklet on Ulster VC Heroes of the Great War and along with the booklet there was an exhibition.
The launch took place in the Long Gallery, with contributions from the Speaker, Robin Newton MLA, Michelle McIlveen MLA, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP. and Ian Crozier, director of the Ulster-Scots Agency. Among those at the launch were relatives of several of Ulster's VC winners.
Along with the booklet there are posters which have been offered to schools across Ulster and these depict the men from Ulster who won the VC, as well as others VC winners who served in the 36th (Ulster) Division.
It is important that the sacrifice of the Somme is not forgotten and these materials produced by the Ulster-Scots Agency will help young folk to appreciate something of the courage of the Ulstermen.
From the Long Gallery we went down to the Great Hall where there were performances by Schomberg Fife and Drum and the Kirknarra Highland Dancers from Kilkeel as well as the Ulster-Scots Juvenile Pipe Band. Members of Mid-Armagh Community Network then performed an xtract from 'Tommy's Story' by Hilary Singleton. This was based on the diary of a young soldier from county Armagh who died at the Somme.
After that I read a poem by W F Marshall entitled 'The Lad' and the evening came to a close with the piper's lament performed by Andrew McGregor.
The following are the last lines of the Marshall poem and they reflect the terrible loss experienced by so many fathers and mothers whose sons were killed in the Great War.
He's sleepin' now where the poppies grow,
In the coat that the bullets tore,
An' what's a wheen of medals to me
When my own wee lad's no more?