An imaginative new exhibition of artefacts and memorabilia will show how the outbreak of World War One affected local soldiers on the battlefield – and impacted on those left behind on the home front.
The War Years Remembered display, which will be at Belfast City Hall next week, brings this important period of Irish history alive in a way all generations can appreciate and enjoy.
Speaking ahead of the exhibition’s opening on Monday (January 19), the Lord Mayor, Councillor Nichola Mallon, said:
“The so-called ‘war to end all wars’ had a profound impact on families the length and breadth of Ireland, with more than 200,000 Irishmen serving and around 35,000 Irish-based troops dying as a result of the 1914-1918 conflict.
“Representing the war dead and the survivors from all nations involved in the Great War, this exhibition gives everyone a chance to experience what life was like during a period that dramatically shaped the course of history. Hopefully, education and understanding of the mistakes made in the past will prevent them from happening again in the future, and this will leave a lasting legacy for future generations.”
Following the tumultuous events of 1914 and the outbreak of war, by 2015 the full scale of the horrors of trench warfare was reverberating back home in Ulster and across pre-partition Ireland.
The collection’s curator David McCallion picks out the ‘war horse’ section of the City Hall exhibition as a particular highlight.
“The war horse display, telling the story of Irish Cavalry, is outstanding and the only one of its kind in Ireland. We have mounted mannequins in original uniforms of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards and the North Irish Horse.
“2015 is such an important year in our history, bringing the 100th anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign and the march past the City Hall of the Ulster Division heading off to war.
“As well as Gallipoli, 1915 witnessed a number of major battles in World War One, including Ypres and Loos, and was also the year when poison gas (chlorine) was used for the first time.”
On the Wednesday and Saturday of the exhibition, visitors wishing to research their own relatives’ WW1 service can access a free military history search facility.
The exhibition can be viewed in the East Wing of the City Hall from Monday (January 19) through to Saturday (January 24) next week. Opening hours are 9am to 4.30pm Monday through Friday and 10am to 4pm on Saturday.