The Archbishops of Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin and Archbishop Richard Clarke, have begun a special centenary pilgrimage with young people to significant sites at the Battle of the Somme.
The pilgrimage began today in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin with a guided tour and with a time of prayer and reflection at the new memorial wall. Prayers were led by 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.
From Glasnevin the group headed to Dublin airport where they departed for Belgium and onto Amiens in France where on Thursday they will visit the Ulster Tower in Thiepval, France; graveyards and memorials linked to the 36th Ulster Division and 16th Irish Division including Thiepval Wood and Guillemont, as well as Newfoundland Park and Lochnagar crater.
Pilgrims will also have time to visit the site of the Christmas Truce, Tyne Cot Cemetery and Essex Farm and will take part in the wreath laying ceremony at the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium.
The pilgrimage will conclude on Friday with a visit to the Irish Peace Tower, Messines, Belgium.
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; and Mgr Gearoid Dullea, Executive Secretary of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference are also participating in the pilgrimage.
Listen to some of the reactions from the pilgrims following their time in Glasnevin Cemetery today, Wednesday 22 June 2016:
Hannah Leonard, one of the young pilgrims
Bishop John McDowell, Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher
Aveen McNeill, another of the young pilgrims
Archbishop Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh
Tom Murphy, one of the young pilgrims
Click here for some of the images from day one of the pilgrimage.
The Battle 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.