Media diary notice: Archbishops of Armagh to lead young people on Somme Centenary Pilgrimage from 22-24 June

20 Jun 2016

Pilgrimage to begin at the new Memorial Wall in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, and concludes at Peace Park in Messines, Belgium

You, or a representative, are invited to join Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop Richard Clarke and thirty pilgrims for the first part of a special centenary pilgrimage to significant sites at the Battle of the Somme.  The archbishops are leading this pilgrimage which will begin this Wednesday 22 June with a photocall of the pilgrims praying at the Memorial Wall in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. Details:

Time and date   11.00am on Wednesday 22 June 2016.
Venue                   Main car park in Glasnevin Cemetery, Finglas Road, Dublin 11, for guided tour followed by prayers and time of reflection at the new Memorial Wall.
In attendance    Archbishop Eamon Martin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh; Archbishop Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh; Bishop Denis Nulty, Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin; Bishop John McDowell,Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher; Canon Shane Forster, Archbishop Clarke’s ExecutiveChaplain; Mgr Gearoid Dullea, Executive Secretary of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference; Revd Barry Paine, Rector, Diocese of Armagh, Father Ryan McAleer, Archdiocese of Armagh; and Father Ruairi O’Domhnaill, Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.


The pilgrimage to the Somme also includes a delegation of young people from across the island of Ireland, including pilgrims from the Archdiocese and Diocese of Armagh; pilgrims from the Church of Ireland dioceses of Clogher, and Cork; and pilgrims from the Catholic diocese of Kildare & Leighlin. All will be present in Glasnevin Cemetery before the entire pilgrimage departs for Dublin Airport.

The most significant moments on the pilgrimage will be: the visit and prayers at the Memorial Wall at Glasnevin Cemetery; the visit to the Ulster Tower in Thiepval, France; the wreath laying ceremony at the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium on Thursday 23 June; and the visit to the Irish Peace Tower, Messines, Belgium, on Friday 24 June. See details on these places in notes to editors below.

The following is the full itinerary for the centenary pilgrimage (all times are local):

Wednesday 22 June – Visit to Glasnevin Cemetery

  • Guided tour of Glasnevin Cemetery at 11.00am
  • Prayers and time of reflection at the new Memorial Wall.
  • Departure for airport

Thursday 23 June – Visit to sites significant to the Battle of the Somme

  • Graveyards and memorials linked to the 36th Ulster Division and 16th Irish Division including Thiepval Wood and Guillemont.
  • The group will visit the Ulster Tour at 11.00am, as well as Newfoundland Park and Lochnagar crater.
  • Later that day the group will travel to Ypres for the Menin Gate Last Post ceremony including a wreath laying ceremony at 8.00pm.

Friday 24 June 2016 – Visit to Ypres Salient battlefields and cemeteries

  • Christmas truce, Tyne Cot Cemetery and Essex Farm.
  • Prayers and time for reflection at the Peace Pledge in the centre of the Peace Park.
  • Visit to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.
  • Depart for return flight to Dublin

Speaking ahead of the centenary pilgrimage, Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “I am looking forward to being part of this special pilgrimage with Archbishop Clarke and with young people from across the country. The Battle of the Somme has left us with a haunting image we are all familiar with – the thousands of pale, white gravestones dotting the ground which symbolise the lives of the many who were lost. We go there, one hundred years after one of the bloodiest battles in human history, on a pilgrimage of prayer and remembrance. I hope that our shared pilgrimage will offer us time and space to reflect with our young people on the importance of peace in our country and in our world.”

Archbishop Richard Clarke said, “I am very much looking forward to this journey, which will I believe be far more than a purely physical journey for all of us. Coming as we do from very different contexts (both spiritually  and geographically) and also carrying very different understandings of our history, we have much to share with one another and much to learn, as we travel and pray our way through places that carry such huge symbolic importance for us all”.


Notes to Editors


  • For publication purposes, media can obtain photographs from the prayers and time of reflection at the new Memorial Wall in Glasnevin Cemetery from photographer John McElroy on 00353 (0) 87 241 6985.
  • For photographs from the other stages of the pilgrimage please contact Brenda Drumm on 00353 (0) 87 310 4444.
  • Photos will also be tweeted from @CatholicBishops, @ChurchofIreland, and on various other personal Twitter accounts using the hashtag #sommepilgrimage2016.
  • TheBattle of the Somme also known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. It was the largest battle of World War I on the Western Front; more than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
  • The Island of Ireland Peace Park and its surrounding park (Irish: Páirc Síochána d’Oileán na h’Éireann), also called the Irish Peace Park or Irish Peace Tower in Messines, near Ypres in Flanders, Belgium, is a war memorial to the soldiers of the island of Ireland who died, were wounded or are missing from World War I, during Ireland’s involvement in the conflict. The tower memorial is close to the site of the June 1917 battle for the Messines Ridge.
  • The Ulster Memorial Tower is a Somme battlefield memorial to the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division. It commemorates the heavy losses suffered by the 36th Division on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
  • Every night at 8.00pm a moving ceremony takes place under the Menin Gate in Ieper – Ypres. The Last Post Ceremony has become part of the daily life in Ieper (Ypres) and the local people are proud of this simple but moving tribute to the courage and self-sacrifice of those who fell in defence of their town.

For media contact:
Ms Brenda Drumm, Catholic Communications Office 00353 (0) 87 3104444 and Dr Paul Harron, Church of Ireland Press Officer 0044 (0)7787881582, who will both be offering communications support and acting as media liaisons for all stages of the Somme Centenary Pilgrimage.