Irish Government Somme Commemorative Programme for 2016 launched
Welcome to the first post on the new Decade of Centenaries blog. Since 2012, the Decade of Centenaries programme has been engaged in delivering a balanced chronological commemorative programme with selected focused events in each year, including the Home Rule Bill in 1912; the Dublin Lockout in 1913; the outbreak of WW1 in 1914; and the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. While the Easter Rising will naturally be a focus of attention in 2016, there is anothe major centenary to mark: the Battle of the Somme, which began on 1 July 1916 with an Anglo-French attack on German lines on the Western Front. Over the 140 days of the Somme Campaign perhaps as many as 1,000,000 soldiers were killed, which makes this battle one of the bloodiest in human history. The Somme was a seminal battle in the British war and has defined many British views of the First World War ever since. Yet Irish units and Irish troops fought at the Somme within the British army: traditionally the Somme has had a particularly potent symbolism for Ulster Protestants, given the role of the 36th (Ulster) Division in the early phases of the battle, but the 16th (Irish) Division also participated and soldiers form virtually all parts of Ireland fought in the battle, with very large numbers being killed or wounded. On 6 November 2015 the Irish Government announced its extensive and diverse programme to mark the centenary of the battle, including commemorative events, exhibitions, artist projects, and the return of Frank McGuinness’ play Observe the sons of Ulster marching towards the Somme to the Abbey Theatre after a twenty year absence. We will be posting updates and resources relating to the Somme centenaries here and on the Decade of Centenaries website; in the meantime, click here to learn more about the launch of the Irish Government’s Somme Commemorative Programme.