Annual Somme Remembrance Service – Irish War Memorial Gardens
Photos by John O’Byrne
We were honoured to attend and photograph the Special Somme Service of Remembrance and Wreath Laying at Irish War Memorial Gardens, Islandbridge.A special ecumenical service of commemoration and wreath-laying was held on Saturday 10th July in the Rose Garden at the Irish National War Memorial in Islandbridge. This annual Somme time event is arranged and led by the Royal British Legion Republic of Ireland with the co-operation and assistance of the Irish Government. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this years’ service was a special ‘scaled-back’ and socially distanced commemoration,This annual event commemorates all those who lost their lives at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and in the two World Wars; in particular the estimated 60,000 Irish men and women who servedand died in those conflicts; it remembers too the often-unacknowledged loss felt by Irish families of those wartime generations.
The War Memorial Gardens are a 32-county memorial, and the event is a shared Ireland ceremony.
Representation of all traditions of the Island of Ireland is a central feature of this commemoration and the standards of Royal British Legion Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are on parade
throughout an ecumenical service of Remembrance. Official wreaths were laid by the Irish and Northern Ireland Governments, members of the Diplomatic Corps of the principle ‘Somme’ nations(UK, France, Germany, Canada, New Zealand and Australia), Service and veterans representatives from the UK and Ireland. A special wreath was laid this year on behalf of all those who cannot to be present at 2021 Islandbridge due to continuing Covid-19 regulations. Music was provided jointly by musicians of the Irish Defence Forces and the Royal Irish Regiment.
Jack Chambers TD, Minister of State & Government Chief Whip, representing An Taoiseach and the Government of Ireland. Paul Givan MLA, The First Minister of Northern Ireland. Michelle O’Neill, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. Major General Seán Clancy, Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) – representing Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, Chief of Staff Defence Forces, Ireland.H.E. Mr Paul Johnston, The British Ambassador accompanied by Col. Darren Doherty, British Defence Attaché. H.E. Ms. Nancy Smyth, (Ambassador of Canada)M. Julien Bouchez, Second Counsellor representing H.E. M. Vincent Guérend (Ambassador of France)H.E. Frau Deike Potzel (Ambassador of Germany)H.E. Mr. Brad Burgess (Ambassador of New Zealand)Mr. Tim Millikan, chargé d’affaires, representing H.E. The Hon. Gary Gray AO. (Ambassador of Australia)Mr. John Morrison, Membership Council, representing Lt Gen James Bashall CB, National President of The Royal British Legion. Lt. Col. Ken Martin, President, The Royal British Legion, Republic of Ireland. Maj. Philip J. Morrison MBE BEM, President, The Royal British Legion, Northern Ireland. Mr. Brian Duffy, District Chairman, The Royal British Legion, Republic of Ireland. Mr. John Stewart, District Chairman, The Royal British Legion, Northern Ireland, Mr Alan Mulligan, District Treasurer, The Royal British Legion, Republic of Ireland. Mr. Ciaran Crone, District Parade Marshal, The Royal British Legion, Republic of Ireland. Mr Geoff Barry, District Standard Bearer, The Royal British Legion, Republic of Ireland. Mr Graham Anderson, District Standard Bearer, The Royal British Legion, Northern Ireland. Mr Norman Espie BEM, Asst. National Parade Marshal, The Royal British Legion (Book Bearer).Mr Alan Pickett, Branch Standard Bearer, Dublin Central Branch, RBL ROI (Book Bearer).Mr. Paul Stephenson, District Vice Chairman, RBL ROI (Head Steward).Irish National War Memorial Committee, Brigadier General (Retd) Paul Pakenham, Chairman. Office of Northern Ireland Veterans Commissioner, Mr. Danny Kinahan, Commissioner. Royal Naval Association – Shipmate Dr Dermot Stone, President, RNA Dublin. The Irish Guards Association Republic of Ireland – Capt. Edward Cooper, President. 28.Royal Irish Regiment Association, Republic of Ireland – Mr. Justin McQuade, President. Royal Air Force Association, Republic of Ireland – Mr. Frank Brien, Chairman. Combined Irish Regiments Association – Col. Hubert K. McAllister OBE TD DL VR, Chairman. Royal Military Police Association of Ireland – Mr Les McClarence, Secretary. French Foreign Legion Association of Ireland – Mr. Phil Casey. Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann (ONE) – Mr. Jim Fay, National President. Irish United Nations Veterans Association – Mr. Derek Judge, representing Mr Martin O’Keefe, National Chairman.