Events to mark 100th anniversary of start of First World War

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Newtownabbey Borough Council is drawing up plans for a major programme of events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

At their February Development Committee meeting, members were presented with a report detailing a number of possible projects and events which could be delivered over the anniversary period.

Among the initiatives the council is considering is a proposal from Alderman Fraser Agnew for the construction of a First World War trench at the rear of Mossley Mill, accessed from the Newtownabbey Way. The trench would be part of an educational project and could form part of a temporary wartime exhibition.

The War Years Remembered organisation has also proposed holding a six to eight week WW1 exhibition and schools’ programme at the council headquarters.

Another initiative being considered by the council is a series of educational seminars for 10 local community organisations.

The community outreach initiative, which has been proposed by former councillor Tommy Kirkham, would focus on topics such as the lead up to the First World War, the history of the 36th Ulster Division and the 10th and 16th Irish Divisions, trench warfare and the WW1 battlefields of France and Belgium. It would also include a study visit to the Public Records Office for Northern Ireland and the Somme Heritage Centre in Conlig, Co Down.

A further proposal from the Royal British Legion would include a planting/art sculpture scheme, possibly located on one of the borough’s main roundabouts. The Legion is also proposing to arrange a commemorative concert, to be held in the Theatre at The Mill or Courtyard Theatre, Ballyearl.

Meanwhile, at Sentry Hill near Glengormley a tree will be planted and a small plaque erected in memory of Tom McKinney, the grandson of William McKinney, who died as a result of wounds suffered at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

A council spokesperson confirmed that the tree planting at Sentry Hill will go ahead. But she stressed that all the other proposals are “still under consideration.”

Officers are to collate further details on each of the possible events before reporting back to the committee’s next meeting on March 11.