Government representatives attend Remembrance Service in Enniskillen


The Dean and Bishop of Clogher with visiting government representatives.

Four governments were represented at the Remembrance Day Service in St Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen organised by Enniskillen Parish and the Royal British Legion, which followed a ceremony at the Cenotaph.

The service was conducted by the Dean of Clogher, the Very Revd Kenneth Hall, assisted by Monsignor Peter O’Reilly, of St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church and Captain Trevor Homfray-Cooper, Padre to the Royal Dragoon Guards.

The preacher was the Bishop of Clogher, the Right Revd Dr. Ian Ellis.

Attending was the Secretary of State, the Right Hon Chris Heaton Harris MP representing the United Kingdom Government; the Taoiseach, Mr Leo Varadkar T.D., representing the Irish Government; the Consul General James Applegate, representing the American Government and Mr Jerome Mullen, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland, representing the Polish Government.

His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Fermanagh, Viscount Brookeborough KG, KSt.J also attended and took part. A contingent from the Royal Dragoon Guards was in attendance.

The Book of Remembrance was opened by Lt Col Mark Scott(Ret’d) MBE, DL Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers who gave the exhortation and the Last Post and Reveille were sounded by Mr Warren Kerr of Ballyreagh Silver Band. A Piper’s Lament was played by Pipe Major Gordon McKeown, 4 UDR Association.

The readings were by Mr. John Jones, Chairman, Enniskillen Branch of the Royal British Legion; Viscount Brookeborough and Monsignor Peter O’Reilly.

The prayers were led by the representatives from the UK, Irish, American and Polish Governments.

The hymns were; “Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;” “I vow, to thee, my country,” “Your kingdom come, O God,” “Lord while for all he world we pray,” “Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart” and “Nearer, my God, to thee.” The organist was Mr. Glenn Moore.

The Bishop of Clogher Right Revd Dr. Ian Ellis who preached.

The Bishop of Clogher, the Right Revd Dr. Ian Ellis, in his Remembrance Day address spoke about the importance of memories and remembering.

“Today is such a sombre occasion when we come together as a community here in Enniskillen, as communities come together all over the UK and Ireland, to remember those who died or served in the two great wars of the 20th century and the many conflicts since that time. We also have special cause to remember those who were killed in defence of our freedom during our period of troubles in Northern Ireland. And today of all days we think of those from this town who lost their lives in the bomb attack at the Enniskillen War Memorial in 1987.

“Today we remember particularly those who served and those who gave their lives in the two great wars at the early part of the 20th century. Our town and church memorials speak their names to us and tell us that they were each a family member and that those families are often still here today and the memories remain vivid.

“I wanted to share a story of two boys from my old Parish of Rossorry just on the edge of Enniskillen both of whom died on the first day of the battle of the Somme killed like thousands of others in action on 1st July 1916. They are buried at the Thiepval memorial in France. Both boys lived close to each other in the parish. Lance Corporal Hugh Stanley Roberts lived at the Rigg, a townland just a few miles into the countryside from here. The second lad was Private William Robert McCaffrey, lived at Lockard, an adjoining townland in the parish, who would have family members still alive today.

“Both boys lived a few fields away from each other and may even have played together as children. They went to local schools. Hugh certainly was a pupil at Portora and is commemorated there. Both enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Hugh in the 9th Inniskillings and William in the 11th, part of the 36th Ulster Division. Both left for France in 1915 and were part of the first advance on the enemy on that first day of the battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916. Both died, one aged 20, the other 21.

“I find it remarkable that they lived a few fields apart in the parish and probably died a few fields apart in France in the unfamiliar landscape of that terrible battle. It’s a story which could be repeated hundreds of times; young local lads, killed together in a catastrophic battle fighting far from home. Remembrance Day brings those personal and very local memories of young lives back to our minds.

“Those who volunteered or were called up to fight for their country had the usual mixture of motives that we have. But part of that mixture was a sense of duty, ‘your country needs you’ mentality, a desire to do what they could to stop the spread of tyranny. This morning we recognise that the fundamental rights and freedoms we take for granted were fought for and safeguarded by them. We remember, respect and honour that commitment.

“For some Remembrance Sunday will always be personal, a time to recall the loss of people we love, when we are reminded of the scars visible or invisible that many carry around as a result of conflict, or, equally, we are inspired by the dogged determination, loyalty and amazing courage demonstrated by ordinary human beings in the face of adversity and yes, evil.

“But it would be a mistake to think that Remembrance Sunday is purely personal, just for those personally affected by loss or memories of war. Rather, it is a time for everyone to be invited to remember. A reminder that we live in community with one another and that the decisions we make as a nation, or as part of a global network of nations, ripple out to affect us all and that in a democracy we bear corporate responsibility for those actions.

“Memories have a vital role in defining who we are, because through our memories we try to make sense of the world around us, we learn from our experience, or at least sometimes we do. There is a certain hopefulness in choosing to remember, an opportunity to look forward to what we might do differently next time. It is said that a fool learns from his own experience, a wise person from the experience of others.

“And yet remembering cannot be just about looking back. I read recently that Edmund Burke (Irish born 18th century politician) said that society is ‘a partnership, a partnership between the past, the present and those yet to be born’. We have acknowledged our debt to the past but let us also acknowledge our duty to future generations. We turn now to consider another key part of remembering and renew our own commitment to be peacemakers. “Blessed are the peacemakers” said Jesus “for they shall be called children of God”.

“I discovered recently that when Martin Luther King was in prison because of his work to secure basic human rights for black people a group of pastors wrote to him to tell him to cool it. He wrote back “Peace is not the absence of tension but the presence of justice”. That is the biblical peace, a peace founded on justice’. That cry for justice calls out across many parts of our world and in our own communities in NI.

“In this province, as we try to move forward into the future beyond our own conflict, that sense of injustice is very real in the minds of victims and survivors, who presently see no possibility of inquiry or justice into how their loved ones died. Recent legislation around legacy is such a great disappointment, and we once more urge government to understand that without that presence of justice the future will remain blighted and conditioned by unresolved issues in the past.

“Again, as Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst to see right prevail for they shall be satisfied.” Whether that is against bullying, standing up to name calling on social media, to bring a calm voice into the abusive debates of our time, is to be a peacemaker.

“Peace-making is difficult terrain to navigate; the current conflict in Israel and Gaza highlights how difficult it is to speak into war torn situations or to know what to pray for; one side having a right to defend itself and, stand against acts of unspeakable violence, and on the other side of the conflict, a right for citizens, particularly the most vulnerable innocently caught in the crossfire, to be safe and receive humanitarian aid. And all the while over the past month whilst the TV news agenda has moved away from the conflict in Ukraine, the grinding attrition of that war continues unabated.

“The Christian response to war is nuanced; there is such a thing as a just war with all its conditions and rules of engagement, but if we take the words of Jesus seriously, we must become orientated to peace-making and to seeking the Lord’s peace through justice.”