High School packed to capacity for Great War event

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Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
Last Thursday evening over 150 people gathered in Markethill High School for an event exploring the Great War organised by the South Armagh Branch of the Ancre Somme Association. Before the main portion of the night, the many people attending spent time looking over a large selection of exhibits on and artefact’s from the First World War period. These included displays from the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum and the Province’s largest selection of Great War related postcards belonging to Ashley Forbes. After a short address by Principal James Maxwell, the first presentation of the night came from Fusiliers museum researcher Jonathan Maguire, who gave an account of many different aspects of trench life. The insights into the young age of many recruits, the gas warfare experience and the continual development of methods to address it; and the harsh toll that trench living brought on the health of soldiers; were a revelation to many in the audience. Following a short break for supper and another chance to look at the exhibits, South Armagh Chair Quincey Dougan then gave an account of the First World Period in the greater Markethill District. Covering Markethill, Hamiltonsbawn, Redrock, Loughgilly, Mountnorris, Glenanne and Kingsmills; Quincey explained in depth how local people were reacting to events in Europe, in the process revealing that to date just over 300 people have been identified as enlisting for service during the 1914 to 1918 period. The supported charity for the event was BLESMA, the British Limbless Ex Servicemens Association, with all proceeds of a collection on the evening going to the worthy cause. Councillor’s Jim Speers and Gareth Wilson both were in attendance, with Councillor Wilson remarking, “The work undertaken by the South Armagh Ancre Somme Association to date has really captured the interest of the public, demonstrated by the large attendance which came to hear of the Markethill contribution to the Great War. He added, “I found it fascinating and it is great to see the proud military history of our Province brought to life and explained in this fashion. I look forward to the next event and congratulate the organisers on such a successful evening.” The South Armagh Ancre Somme Association would like to thank Markethill High School for the use of the facilities, and for the Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum for their help facilitating the evening. The Fusiliers Museum is one of the many hidden gems in the Armagh District and the branch would encourage everyone to pay a visit to this fantastic resource. For more information on the Association you can visit their web presence at www.facebook.com/southarmaghsomme.
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