Shared sacrifice is remembered

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The story of Ballymena people from all backgrounds during the First World War is explored in a new publication which was launched in Ballymena Library.

The handsomely produced and richly illustrated small volume contains personal stories including the multiple losses to some families, brothers separated in death, the heroism shown by men of such a young age, and the demise of a young woman who drowned on the Lusitania.

Ballymena and the First World War: A Sacrifice Shared is the result of a project, first proposed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), involving young people from all sections of the local community which began with visits to sites in Belgium and France in August 2012 by Dunclug Youth Forum and the Harryville and Ballykeel Youth Groups.

On their return the group started working with the Ulster Historical Foundation on a programme to learn more about their First World War ancestors and others in the Ballymena community who had served in the conflict. This involved talks and visits to the Ulster Museum and the Somme Heritage Centre, Friar’s Bush graveyard and Belfast City Cemetery, as well as sessions in Ballymena Library looking at local newspapers and online resources with the help of Ballymena Times editor, Des Blackadder.

Ballymena and the First World War: A Sacrifice Shared was born out of that programme and focuses on the shared sacrifice during the War of all those in Ballymena town and district, told through the personal stories of individuals who served.

It includes a list of those who died from the area and case-studies which explore in more depth the stories of a number of those who died.

The booklet is free of charge to the general public it can be ordered online from the Foundation’s online bookstore www.booksireland.org.uk (Postage costs will apply).