Irish and UK military bands play together at Enniskillen Somme memorial

Crowds gathered at Enniskillen Castle for the event
Crowds gathered at Enniskillen Castle for the event

Bands of both the British and Irish military played for the first time together in Northern Ireland at the weekend in honour of the soldiers of the Somme.

The event took place at Enniskillen Castle at 6pm on Saturday, in order to mark 100 years since the 36th (Ulster) Division and the 16th (Irish) Division entered the fray together in the notoriously deadly battle, which began on July 1, 1916.

Assembled ranks of musicians from the British and Irish armies played music which, in some cases, was centuries old

Assembled ranks of musicians from the British and Irish armies played music which, in some cases, was centuries old

In total, more than one million men were killed or wounded on all sides during the 141-day confrontation in northern France.

Prior to the war, many members of the Ulster Division had been members of the UVF, whilet many of the Irish Division had been members of rival militia the Irish Volunteers.

During the ceremony at the weekend, the Irish Defence Forces Army No1 Band and the Band of the Royal Irish Regiment – as well as musicians of the 1st and 2nd Battalions Royal Irish – presented what the MoD described as “a unique medley of Irish military music, much of it dating back hundreds of years”.

The event had been organised by The Inniskillings Museum.

Curator Neil Armstrong described it as a “fitting first” to mark the men of the two Irish divisions.