The Inishowen War Memorial is to be opened on Sunday next, June 26, 93 years after the First World War ended.
In Fort Dunree, on the banks of Lough Swilly, the Inishowen Friends of Messine have created the memorial wall with the names of 249 men and women from Inishowen who died during that terrible conflict. They were from every parish in the peninsula, with the names of those from Newtowncunningham, Carrigans and Killea also included.
The fallen included Catholics and Protestants, Orangemen and Hibernians, hurlers and cricketers, dreamers and adventurers, and those who joined the war because their political and church leaders of the time told them it was the right thing to do.
For many years the only memorials to these men were behind the closed doors of churches and halls, and many of those who died were never remembered at all, particularly among the nationalist community, where any connection to the British army became something you just didn’t talk about.
Even for those who did publicly remember the dead, they had to put up with the suspicion that they were somehow ‘less Irish’ than the rest of the community. In the words of President Mary McAleese, the memories were put in shoeboxes, and hidden away in attics and under beds for generations.
Since the opening of the Island of Ireland Peace Tower in Messine there has been a growing awareness of Ireland’s involvement in the First World War, and at a local level the Inishowen Friends of Messine was formed to both remember the dead, and to use this element of our shared history to build peace and reconciliation between the people of this Island today. The importance of this shared history was underlined during the recent visit of the Queen when both heads of state paid their respects at both the Garden of Remembrance and the Islandbridge Memorial .
The new Inishowen memorial will be officially opened by Clr Dessie Larkin, Chairperson of the Donegal CDB Peace and Reconciliation Partnership, who provided the PEACE III funding for a project based at Fort Dunree which included creating the memorial wall. The opening at 2.30pm will be followed by the annual Remembrance Service which has been conducted at Fort Dunree since 2004.
All those with an interest in shared history, and in how it ,,can be used to bring people together, are invited to attend the opening and the ceremony which will include readings, music, and a Last Post service.
Light refreshments will be served afterwards in the Saldahna Suite of Fort Dunree.