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Not forgotten soldiers

Published: Tue, 1 Mar 2016
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Pictured at the unveiling of the 1914 Poppy Trail mural are the Housing Executive's Ian McCrickard, Greater Village Regeneration Trust's Angela Johnston and Peter Bleakley of the Shared History Workshop.
Poppy Trail
An incredible new mural reflecting local WW1 sacrifice has been unveiled at Egeria Street, off Belfast’s Donegall Road.
The Greater Village Regeneration Trust, with our funding support, has arranged for the artwork to be installed as part of the area’s Poppy Trail.
It tells the stories of two local men who gave their lives in the first year of the Great War - Lance Corporal Samuel Spratt who came from the Donegall Road area and Corporal Michael McGivern from the Falls Road area - both of whom served in the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.
This artwork is the second to be unveiled of the Greater Village Regeneration Trust’s ‘Poppy Trail’. The first was revealed last November at Barrington Gardens - HMS Hawke – which commemorated the sinking in 1914 of HMS Hawke when 524 sailors died of whom five were from the Donegall Road area.
Ian McCrickard, our Belfast Region Manager, unveiled the new piece and said:
“As a social landlord we feel it's important to build long lasting relationships with the communities we work in. This initiative with Greater Village Regeneration Trust is an important element of our social investment in the area and this trail, funded through our cohesion team, shows our continued commitment to the Greater Village area. I commend everyone involved and wish them well with the project’s continued development.”
Angela Johnston of Greater Village Regeneration Trust commented:
“The Poppy Trail series of art installations will document something to reflect each year of WW1 from a local perspective. When completed it will form a walking tour which tells the stories of local men and women who paid the ultimate price in order to secure the freedoms we take for granted today. We are excited about its progress and its contribution to the area’s physical regeneration. We look forward to continue this work with the Housing Executive to bring it to fruition.”
Pete Bleakley, of the Shared History Workshop who facilitates the project, said:
“One of the great ironies of 1914 was that thousands of men, who were diametrically opposed in terms of their politics in Ireland, set their differences aside in order to fight together against the greater foe: Germany. As part of our work on the Poppy Trail we have been working with the community to highlight this aspect of our shared history.”
The Poppy Trail series of art installations will document each of the five years of WW1 from a local perspective and when complete will form a walking tour which will take visitors through the Great War on land and at sea, highlighting stories of local men and women who paid the ultimate price in order to secure the freedoms taken for granted today.
The project will have other community engagement poppy-related projects involving local primary school children, information events and distribution of an information booklet to the local community.