Centenary of the Armistice commemorated
They came together in Belfast Cathedral, as they did around the country, around Europe, indeed around the world, to remember those who died for peace and freedom 100 years to the day since the signing of the Armistice of World War One.
Relatives of those who died or were injured in the 1914-1918 conflict gathered with others from all over Ireland with a close link to that war in a service broadcast live on BBC TV and radio.
For security reasons, the service was open to invited guests only. His Royal Highness The Duke of York KG, was in attendance and read a lesson. Other key figures included Secretary of State Karen Bradley, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the City of Belfast, Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle, Irish Government Minister Damien English, City Councillors and politicians.
The special guests were welcomed by the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde, and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Chairman of the Northern Ireland First World War Centenary Committee.
The preacher was the Most Rev Eamon Martin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland. The Blessing was given by the Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Primate and Archbishop of Armagh. The two have been on a shared journey since the commemoration of the outbreak of the war in 1914, a journey referred to by Archbishop Martin in his sermon.
The commemorations began early in Belfast Cathedral when, at 6am on the 11th day of the 11th month, Pipe Major Margaret Hill played the Battle's O'er inside St Anne’s. Teenager Margaret travelled from Cookstown to take part in this integral part of the day. She has been a member of the 1st (NI) Battalion Army Cadet Force for almost three years and plays with Tullylagan Pipe Band.
The Cathedral held its own Service of Remembrance at 10am on Sunday morning. Guests attending the later service were invited to be in their seats at 3.30pm, with the service getting underway around 4pm.
The last major event in the centennial commemorations of the war, the service in Belfast coincided with services in Dublin, Glasgow and Cardiff, ahead of the national service at Westminster Abbey that evening.
The service followed a traditional evensong format, led by the choir of Belfast Cathedral, members of the Ulster Orchestra, all under the direction of the Choirmaster David Stevens. Acting Organist was Mark McGrath
The emphasis of the service shifted towards remembrance and reconciliation with poet Michael Longley reading his acclaimed work ‘Ceasefire.’