Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland



Garvey Silver Band at historic Menin Gate Ceremony

Members of Garvey Silver Band pictured at the Service of Commemoration at the Ulster Tower on Saturday 1st July.

The members of Garvey Silver Band recently represented the City of Lisburn at the Menin Gate ceremony in Belgium during the Band’s trip to the 90th Anniversary ‘Battle of the Somme’ Celebrations.  The five-day tour to the Somme Region based in Amiens was organised under the auspices of the Royal Ulster Rifles Association with members of the Lisburn Branch of the Royal British Legion, accompanied by the Band and guests.  Partly funded by Lisburn City Council and generous subscriptions from the local business community, the tour was a great success.

The party with their tour guide Col Derek Smyth of the Army Benevolent Fund visited many of the sites of the Battle of the Somme in and around the Amiens area. The Band played at many of these sites, entertaining the large crowds there and also commemorating the fallen soldiers of the island of Ireland.  The Band also massed with the Band of the Territorial Army of Newfoundland to play several items, which proved very popular with the visitors to the site of the preserved trenches at Beaumont Hamel.  All the members of the party attended the National Service of Commemoration at the Thiepval Memorial on the 1st July in the presence of HRH the Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The party then moved to the Ulster Tower for a further Service of Commemoration in the presence of HRH the Duke of Gloucester and many other dignitaries from Ireland.  There was a further act of Commemoration at the 16th Irish Division Memorial in the little village of Guillemont. When wreathes were laid by HRH the Duke of Gloucester, N.I. Secretary of State Peter Hain and Mr Des Browne, Secretary of State for Defence as well as Monsieur Didier Samain - Mayor of Guillemont, Brigadier-General Liam MacNamee, the Irish Defence Force and Mary Hanfin, TD on behalf of the Irish Government.

On the fourth day of the tour the party travelled north to Ypres in Belgium to continue the battlefield visits and performing at the Island of Ireland Peace Park, which was opened on 11th November 1998 by The President of Ireland and H.M. The Queen and King Albert of the Belgians. Again the Band attracted a large crowd of visitors.

On the evening of the 2nd July the Band was privileged to play at he extremely moving Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. The Ypres Fire Brigade has carried out this ceremony every evening since 1928 with the exception of 1940 to September 1944 when the Germans occupied Belgium. Because of the 90th anniversary celebrations in the area the large crowd of over 1000 people were joined by the ambassadors of Australia and Canada, attending this evening in particular to lay wreaths to commemorate the dead and missing of both those countries. Mr Ken Falloon of Garvey Silver Band laid a wreath on behalf of the Band and the people of Lisburn. The Band had the responsibility of playing the National Anthems of Canada, Australia, United Kingdom and Belgium and there were many compliments paid to the members of the Band both in their appearance and playing ability.

The members of the Band wish to thank Lisburn City Council, the Business Community of Lisburn, The Royal Ulster Rifles Association N.I. and Lisburn Branches, Col Derek Smyth of the Army Benevolent Fund and Mr Ned Falloon - Band President for all the help given to them in making the 90th Anniversary Battlefield Tour the success it undoubtedly was.

Ulster Star