Limavady man Bobbie Forrest has spoken of his pride at singing Limavady’s famous ‘Danny Boy’ at one of the world’s most prestigious commemorations in Belgium at the weekend.
The soon to be 73-year-old retired brickie was in Ypres as part of a North East PEACE III funded programme when he was impromptly asked to sing the song at ‘The Last Post’ ceremony in front of a packed audience.
“My chest was bursting with pride,” he told the ‘Journal’ on Tuesday. “It was one of the proudest moments of my life, and at the end a woman I didn’t know came up, crying and said that was beautiful. It was incredible. I was one of 14 children reared on the Roemill Road and to be asked to do that was an honour and I am just so proud.”
Bobbie says ‘Danny Boy’ is the one thing that Limavady has that everyone knows and would loved to see it played in the town everyday.
“When you see the reaction all over the world to ‘Danny Boy’, it makes you so proud to think that it belongs to Limavady,” he said. “It’s the one thing no one can take away from us.”
The trip was also emotional for Bobbie because it marked his return to the Irish Peace Tower in Flanders. Bobbie played an important role in making sure the the Tower was built in time for a royal unveiling, more than 14 years ago. It was formerly opened by the Queen, then Irish President Mary McAlesse and King Albert II of Belgium in November 1998.
Seeing his legacy, which he says is a part of history, was a powerful moment for Bobbie.
“The comradeship of Protestants and Catholics from the group was unbelievable. Everybody was fantastic,” he said. “The trip was a stark reminder of what those men who fought in the War went through for us and I was so proud to be standing at the tower and to look at the faces of people. What I brought back from the trip is that all of us, Protestants and Catholics, must learn to work together and overcome our differences.”
The trip also had extra special poignancy for Bobbie because his father fought in the First World War.
Bobbie Forrest Snr left his home on William Street, Limavady aged 17 to join the First Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1916. Bobbie says his father was also a member of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, and the 2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers.
In later years, when Bobbie would ask his father about the war, how he got his wounds, he said: “He wouldn’t talk about it, and asked me not to ask him.”