Communities across Meath are remembering the end of the First World War this weekend as Armistice Day falls on Sunday, 11th November. It is not possible to say how many men from Meath fought in the war, but in the region of 500 lost their lives in the conflict. The most famous is probably the poet, Francis Ledwidge. The soldiers who died and those who survived, were largely forgotten until recently, their names known to their families and communities, their stories mostly untold.
The Great War will be commemorated at the Town Hall, Navan, where a memorial to the dead was unveiled earlier this year, on Friday 9th November at 11am, where Ernest McBride will read an Act of Remembrance, and Sean Lynch will play the Last Post and Reveille, and Eithne Cantwell of Navan Historical Society will speak on 'They Shall Not Grow Old', the society's book on Navan's Great War Dead, published earlier this year. Poems, songs and prose of the Great War follow.
The Old Dunboyne Society is launching a exhibition 'From Dunboyne to the Trenches' on Friday 9th November, in Dunboyne library. This is the culmination of four years research into the lives and experiences of men from the Dunboyne, Clonee and Kilbride area, who fought in the Great War. A significant number of these men lost their lives, but many of them returned to work and live in the area. The exhibition will be opened by John Bruton. On Sunday, the bells of St Peter's Church, Dunboyne will join churches across the country as they ring out at 11am, to mark the signing of the Armistice in 1918.
In Slane on Saturday 10th November, 'We Will Remember Them – Concert for the Eve of Armistice Day', takes place at 7.30pm in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland. Tickets €15 are available at The Hub. On Sunday, the Irish Military War Museum, Collon, hosts a charity fundraiser, 'Remembering World War I'.
At 11am on Sunday, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Dunshaughlin and District Historical Society, with involvement from the community college, will mark the end of the war. In keeping with tradition, bells will be rung and there will be a formal silence and short ceremony to respectfully remember the lives lost on every side during the conflict.
Afterwards there will be a number of short talks on the war in Dunshaughlin Pastoral Centre. Noel French, author of ‘The Meath War Dead’, will speak of the people behind the grim statistics of death and suffering. Jim Gilligan will give details of men from the area who fought, and how the conflict affected the area in other ways, while Margaret McCann will outline the popular food found in the shopping baskets of that era. The talks will be interspersed with musical items from the time and refreshments will be available. All are welcome at the remembrance ceremony in front of the courthouse at 11am and the presentations afterwards in St Patrick’s Hall from 11.30am.
The Remembrance Day Parade in Trim will leave Trim Castle Hotel at 2.15pm on Sunday 11th November - the actual date of the official ending of World War I, and march to the memorial in the Norman Pratt Park for a 2.30pm ceremony. Those taking part include the local RDF, ONE branches, reserve naval association, and the RAF Mazirah group. Refreshments take place afterwards in the Bounty Bar.
On Sunday morning, the bells will ring out in Jordanstown and Rathmolyon churches at 11am, in unison with communities across the world, to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the end of WW1.
In the years 1914-18, the then small rural communities of Enfield and Rathmolyon saw a number of its young men enlist with the British Army to serve in the war. Some 80 men and one woman from the parish are known to have served.
On Sunday, Dair Ríoga Local History Group offers people the opportunity to commemorate them. At 3pm, a Centenary Ecumenical Commemoration Service will be held in Jordanstown Church, and during it the names of the 81 from the parish will be read by some family members.
The Service will be immediately followed by an exhibition of WW1 memorabilia in St Mary's National School, Enfield. On display will be many items associated with individual soldiers from the parish, including service and gallantry medals, service records, photographs, letters, and diaries. One item of interest may be the so-called Death Penny, the WW1 bronze memorial plaque which was issued to the next-of-kin of soldiers who had died serving with the British and Empire forces in the First World War. The plaque measured approximately 11cms or 4½ inches in diameter, and had on it the name of the deceased soldier and the words 'He Died for Freedom and Honour'.
North Westmeath Historical Society is holding a weekend seminar in Castlepollard on the Great War and its impact on the north midlands counties of Westmeath, Longford, Meath and Cavan.
On Saturday 10th November at 8pm, Johann Farrelly will give a talk in Hotel Castlepollard on 'Cavan and the Great War'. This event is free and all are welcome. On Sunday at 3pm, there will be an ecumenical service in St Michael's Church, Castlepollard, followed by the unveiling of a plaque in memory of those from north Westmeath who took part in the war.