A new bannerette dedicated to the memory of the Great War fallen from Ballykeel LOL472 has been unfurled in Ballymena.
Around 30 members of the lodge served in the 1914-1918 conflict with six men losing their lives.
Three of those men died as a direct result of the actions fought on July 1, 1916 at the Battle of the Somme.
And the venue chosen for the dedication ceremony was a poignant choice.
Back in 1914 the same three men would have been standing in a long queue as Ballymena’s Protestant Hall was transformed into a recruiting centre for the 12th Royal Irish Rifles of the newly formed 36th(Ulster Division).
Furthermore, the three men may well have been in the hall two years earlier when it was the venue for an anti-home rule speech by Unionist leader, Sir Edward Carson.
The men whose names are included on the new bannerette were:-
Rfn. Joseph Richardson, No. 8068, killed in action 24/10/1914, 2nd R. Irish Rif. of Alfred Street, Ballymena.
Rfn. Daniel McNiece, No. 19627, killed in action 01/07/1916, 12th R. irish Rif. of Queen Street, Ballymena.
Rfn. James Lennox, No. 1925, died of wounds 22/08/1916, 12th R. Irish Rif. of Edward Street, Ballymena.
Sgt. Robert Herbison, No. 19026, killed in action 27/08/16, 12th R. Irish Rif. of Springwell Street, Ballymena.
Private Arthur Holmes, Military Medal, No. A/21026, killed in action 30/04/1917, 16th Btn Canadian Inf. (Manitoba Regt.) originally of Hugomont Villas, Ballymena.
Rfn. Thomas Taggart, No. 1636, killed in action 03/08/1917, 14th R. Irish Rif. of Alfred Street, Ballymena.
Descendants of Sgt. Robert Herbison and Rfn. Daniel McNiece were present for the ceremony.
Members and guests were welcomed to the function by the Wor. Master of Ballykeel, Bro. Garry Brown and chairman for the proceedings, Bro. Matthew Armstrong.
After an opening hymn ‘All people that on earth do dwell’, the Rev. Bro. Alastair Smyth led the gathering in prayer.
Afterward, the Rev. Smyth reflected on the scale of sacrifice which had occurred on the first day on the Somme and how it’s impact had such a powerful and long running impact on Northern Ireland.
This was followed by a short historical talk on the men named on the bannerette which was delivered by Des Blackadder who has researched the role played by Ballymena men of all classes and creeds in World War One for many years.
The presentation of scissors for the unfurling was made by Miss Grace Brown to Mrs. Ann Nevin who said she was honoured to carry out the duty.
After an address by Bro. Tom Elliott MP, a vote of thanks was proposed by Deputy Master, Bro. Jonathn Nevin and seconded by Past Master and Treasurer, Gary Templeton.
Afterward, the lodge and their guests gathered in the adjacent Memorial Park for a short wreath laying ceremony and two minutes’ silent contemplation.