Sunday, 26 June 2016

Manchester Irish Writers Somme 100 Commemoration.

By E.M. Powell

2016 marks the centenary of Ireland’s Easter Rising. The events of Easter 1916 marked a crucial turning point in Irish history and ultimately led to Irish independence.

The Government of Ireland has been leading a national and international programme of events to commemorate that important anniversary. In the words of the Embassy of Ireland, its aim has been
‘to remember 1916 and that pivotal period in our history, to reflect on the past 100 years, and to re-imagine our future.’
Manchester Irish Writers marked 1916's centenary in our own commemoration of writing, '1916: The Risen Word' in March of this year at the Irish World Heritage Centre. We have since published many of our pieces on our blog and will be doing so for the remainder of this year.

But while the Rising was indeed pivotal in Irish history, it was taking place against a background of one of history’s bloodiest and most horrific conflicts: the First World War, in which around 17 million soldiers and civilians were killed. That Ireland supplied 200,000 men to fight Britain's cause against Germany is often overlooked. Many lost their lives or were terribly wounded.

Much of that grievous loss and harm took place at the Battle of the Somme, in Northern France, in which Irishmen from both sides of the political divide fought.

The Battle of the Somme commenced on July 1 1916 and lasted until November. A major programme of commemorative events is planned here in the UK and abroad.

Manchester Irish Writers have produced our own commemoration of words to honour the Irishmen who fought and died at the Somme, as well as the enduring impact of their service on their own lives and those they left behind.

Our poems, prose and stories will be published here on our blog from Monday June 27 to Sunday July 3 2016. Links to each post will be on our Facebook Page, which you can find here.

We warmly invite you to join us in our tribute of remembrance and reflection. A link to each post will be added each day.

Monday June 27 2016: 'Somewhere in France' by Kathleen Handrick. A poem inspired by the life of an Oldham priest who went to the Somme.

Tuesday June 28 2016: 'Irish Soldier of the Somme' by Martha Ashwell. The story of the life of a much loved family friend.

Wednesday June 29 2016: 'Who Shall Divide Us' by Patrick Slevin. A poem about the Connaught Rangers, an Irish Infantry regiment of the British Army that fought at the Somme.

Thursday June 30 2016: 'Who were the Irish at the Somme?' by E.M. Powell. A post on the history of the Irishmen and women who were at the Somme.

Friday July 1 2016: 'July 1st 1916' by Bridie Breen. A poem to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Saturday July 2 2016: 'Testimonies of Trauma: The Somme and other Battles in World War 1' by Rose Morris. A post that commemorates Irish writers both in World War I and those who wrote of it after.

Saturday July 2 2016: 'The Widow Quinn' by Kevin McMahon. A poem about the widows of the Irishmen who served and how, in parts of Ireland, they were shunned.

Sunday July 3 2016: 'More Like Rugby Than Football' by Des Farry. A post looking at brief moments of normality occurring in a terrible conflict which is set against a sports background and draws some comparisons between both.

Sunday July 3 2016: 'Lest We Forget' by Bridie Breen. Our final post is a poem that calls on us all remember those caught up the conflict.

We hope our writing has informed and given pause for reflection. Thank you for joining us in this important week of commemoration.

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