Raphoe played host to a poignant commemoration last Friday to those men from the locality who paid the ultimate price during Battle of the Somme in 1916.
A large crowd gathered in the Diamond for the unveiling of a special bench to mark the 100 years to the day on which the infamous battle began which resulted in over one million killed or wounded, among them 13 men from Raphoe who died in the Somme, and 42 others from the region who died in the Great War.
The large crowd were welcomed to the event by Derek Reaney of the Ulster-Scots Agency. He said the occasion and the unveiling of the bench came about when they were approached by a group of Raphoe locals who expressed an interest in marking the historic centenary. Thanks to their efforts, a beautiful bench was commissioned to be placed in the town centre.
To honour the 13 who died in the Somme, the bells of St Eunan’s Cathedral rang out 13 times at Friday’s event. This was followed by a sounding of the last post and piper's lament by Alan Goudie.
Guests were then treated to a beautiful version of one of the best known songs penned about the most bloody battle in history, The Green Fields of France, which was sung by Lucy Parke, who later also sang “The Fallen Poppy”.
The names of all 13 men was read out of Sean McClafferty including Lance Corporal Joseph Allen, Private John Beattie, Private George Bradley, Private Denis Caulfield, Private Daniel Curran, Private William Deveney, Private John Galbraith, Private Ramsey Gibson, Lance Corporal James Gourley, Lance Corporal John Hazlette, 2nd Lieutenant John Lecky, Private Patrick Stevenson and Private Albert Young.
The bench was unveiled by Directors of the Ulster-Scots Agency, Val O’Kelly and Ida Fisher, along with Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Terence Slowey.
Cathaoirleach Slowey said it was a “privilege” to be a guest at the function.
He said it was important to remember those who had been “airbrushed out for many years”.
Local councillor, Frank McBrearty, was also thanked for his efforts in helping the project.
Gary Blair then read the poem “The lad” by WF Marshall, and Derek Reaney read “The Aftermath” by Siegfried Sasson.
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