A unique sculpture of a First World War one Soldier was unveiled at Ballymoney Cenotaph on Saturday 1st November.
In the centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War, the local community met at the High Street Cenotaph for the dedication of a commemorative statue by the Mayor’s Chaplain, Rev. Frances Bach. It was a very emotional moment as people stood to remember the brave and selfless men from these islands, and particularly those of the Ballymoney district, who went off to fight for king and country, many of whom died, or carried - ever after - the deep scars of injury or distress from that grim conflict.
The majority of the Council’s guests were those from businesses, groups and individuals who generously donated to the appeal fund, launched by Ballymoney & District Cultural Heritage Society. Many from the local community also joined the commemoration event.
Addressing those assembled The Mayor, Alderman Bill Kennedy, prior to unveiling the sculpture commented: “August 1914 was a powerful date in our history which marked the beginning of the great war which affected the lives of people here and in other countries. In this 100th anniversary year I am pleased and honoured to carry out the unveiling of this beautiful piece of bronze sculpture so skillfully capturing a world war one soldier, standing in reverse arms position.”
All eyes were fixed on the dignitaries as Mayor Kennedy pulled the cord to reveal the sculpture commenting: “This is a fine and lasting memorial to those who tragically lost their lives in the great war 1914-1918 and subsequent conflicts. Many of those who left our town and district to go to war did so with a prayer in their head and a prayer book in their pocket to get them through the difficult times ahead…….. Many did not return.” He concluded: “As well as being a memorial to keep alive the memory of the men and women who perished and those who served this sculpture will strike a chord with the modern day population of Ballymoney and District and visitors to our town who still recognise the importance of honouring our local heros……………WE WILL REMEMBER THEM .”
Dedicating the sculpture the Mayor’s Chaplain, Rev. Frances Bach, said: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit we dedicate this statue, that it may be a symbol of the sacrifice, duty and service rendered by those of this district, and elsewhere, who gave so much in the defence of their country; and that this statue may stand as a symbol of the history we share, and all that binds us together in our community today”.
She then offered prayer:
Firstly, a thanksgiving for the sacrifice made by the armed services in the First World War and other conflicts; a prayer for peace in the world and finally a prayer to remember that in the trenches men from very different backgrounds all stood together for the common cause, and a prayer that we might recapture that spirit more and more in our own community.
Introducing the closing hymn ‘Give me oil’, The Mayor’s Chaplain said she could imagine columns of WW1 soldiers whistling the tune as they marched along. They were young and would have liked jaunty hymns. Following the hymn, sung to a strong marching beat, the ceremony closed with the National Anthem and a Blessing.
An inscription on a granite plaque at the foot of the bronze sculpture reads; “In memory of the men and women from Ballymoney and District who answered their country’s call”
The sculpture project cost £30,000. Council contributed £20,000 with the remaining monies contributed by local businesses, groups and individuals, and funds raised through street collections and fundraising events.
Speaking after the event Project Co-Ordinator Sammy McClements commented: “It has been 100 years since the start of world war one and the town and district has commemorated it by commissioning this statue which is a great tribute to those who fell. I hope future generations will look at this memorial and ask themselves about these men who gave their all.”
More pictures in this week’s paper.