Civic events to mark centenary of WWI

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Ballymena Councillors will play a full part in local commemoration of the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War next month.

At their July meeting, members unanimously agreed to change the date of their August monthly meeting to facilitate their participation in two commemorative events on August 4 to mark the Declaration of War on that date back in 1914 - Ballymena Royal British Legion’s Parade & Drumhead Service at the Memorial Park and the nationwide ‘Lights Out’ Vigil.

Proposing that Council postpone their August meeting for one week, Cllr Beth Adger, said: “This centenary is a very important event and we should all be attending.”

The park will be open from 6-11.30pm that evening to accommodate the Service, which will be attended by the Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie OBE, and Ballymena Mayor Audrey Wales.

The Drumhead Service will also recognise one of the first fallen from Ulster - Able Seaman Charles G. McConachy, a Dungiven man who had once been a pupil at Ballymena Academy, who was killed in action on August 6, 1914 when HMS Amphionstruck a German mine in the Thames Estuary, and to coincide with the Service a centenary flower bed is to be planted out in the Park.

The Service will be followed by the candlelight Vigil between 10.15 and 11pm which will be open to public participation. It is also understood that, in line with the UK-wide Vigil initiative, a single light will be left on in The Braid after 10pm on August 4.

In a dramatic event spanning the entire United Kingdom, lights will be switched off to mark 100 years since Britain became involved in the First World War - a gesture symbolic of the words spoken 100 years ago by Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

Local people are encouraged to light a single candle in remembrance of the more than one million Commonwealth service personnel who lost their lives in the First World War.

It is understood Westminster Abbey will be leading the nation with a First World War vigil liturgy.