Murlough Beach, Portstewart Strand, Downhill Beach and Port Ban, Dunree, will join over 30 beaches across the UK and Ireland on Sunday 11 November for Pages of the Sea, Danny Boyle’s commission for 14-18 NOW to mark the centenary of Armistice Day.
The event is an informal, gesture of remembrance for the millions of men and women who left their home shores during the First World War, many never to return. It will be delivered in Northern Ireland and County Donegal by the Nerve Centre and National Trust, in partnership with Big Telly Theatre Company, Stendhal Festival, UV Arts, Artlink and Live Music Now.
Port Bán, Dunree will unveil a stunning large scale portrait of Seaman John Patrick Buckley from County Cork who lost his life, along with over 350 others, on the SS Laurentic after it sank at the mouth of Lough Swilly in January 1917 after she struck two mines laid by a German U-Boat. Port Bán looks out to the site of the wreck.
Seaman John Patrick Buckley of the Royal Naval Reserve was born in 1895, in Youghal, County Cork, son of Patrick (Patsy), and Mary Buckley (née Keane), the sixth of their eight children. Patrick was a Sailor and Merchant Seaman, so it seems John Patrick followed in his father’s footsteps. By the time the census was taken in 1911 only four of Patrick and Mary’s children had survived and the following year their son William had also died.
We don’t know exactly when John Patrick joined the crew of the Laurentic but he was probably on board when the ship was stationed in the Far East in 1915 - 1916. In a photograph taken in a portrait studio in Singapore John Patrick stands proudly in uniform, reminding us of the distances that separated these young men from their homes and families. In a Christmas card sent to his sister Kathleen just a month before his death he asks that she “keep one thought apart for a friend who today is afar”. Along with the card he sent Kathleen money to buy the dancing shoes she wanted. John Patrick Buckley’s body was never recovered, leaving this couple who had suffered so much loss, with just their two youngest children Hannah and Kathleen.
From 2pm - 4pm on 11th November attendees at Port Bán can get involved in stencilling silouettes on the beach and have the opportunity to hear some of the poems written by the community and view the artwork created by local school children. Parking is available at Fort Dunree and a free shuttle bus will run every 20 minutes, from Fort Dunree to the beach. Hot drinks and refreshments will be available from The Coffee Cup at Fort Dunree and Triskele Coffee (at Port Bán).
Poet Carol Ann Duffy has been invited by Boyle to write a new poem, which will be read by individuals, families and communities as they gather on the beaches on 11 November. Copies of the poem are available online and will be available at the beaches for those who wish to come together or to offer their own personal contribution.
Artlink ‘Pages of the Sea’ Community Events Ahead of Sunday 11th November Artlink will be hosting several free community events:- A series of schools workshops on the theme of remembrance with local artists Tues 6th - Wednesday 7th November. The schools are St Egney's Desertegney, Scoil Ìosagàin and St Oran's PS Cockhill.
“Nationalist Veterans in the First World War: the True Story” A talk by Seamus Breslin at Buncrana Community Library Wed. 7th Nov 6.30pm - 7.30pm. An illuminating talk about the post Armistice experiences of all WW1 veterans from the North West of Ireland, but in particular that of the Nationalist veterans whose story has seldom been told. It questions the perception that these veterans were shunned by their community, demonstrating that they were well respected throughout the 1920s and 30s, took part in the War of Independence and protested for the rights of disabled war veterans.
Poetry Workshops on the theme of remembrance with author Aileen Mc Gee at Buncrana Community Library; Sat 10th November 10am - 12pm (for Children): 12.15pm - 2.15pm (for Adults)
At the launch of Pages of the Sea, Danny Boyle said: "Beaches are truly public spaces, where nobody rules other than the tide. They seem the perfect place to gather and say a final goodbye and thank you to those whose lives were taken or forever changed by the First World War. I'm inviting people to watch as the faces of the fallen are etched in the sand, and for communities to come together to remember the sacrifices that were made."
The work is commissioned and produced by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, and delivered with partner organisations across the UK: National Trust; Activate Performing Arts; Creative Foundation; Eden Project; National Theatre Scotland; Nerve Centre; Sunderland Culture; Taliesin. The wok is in association with Aberystwth Arts Centre; The Grand Theatre of Lemmings; Magna Vitae; MOSTYN; SeaChange Arts; Swansea Council; Swansea University; Theatre Orchard; and VisitBlackpool. Supported by The National Lottery and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. With additional support from Backstage Trust, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) and National Rail.