In 2006 the Ulster-Scots Folk Orchestra produced a CD recording to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
The CD, which is simply called Somme, explores how the battle affected the psyche of the Ulster people by approaching the subject from various angles.
The 36th Ulster Division alone lost 5,553 men during the first two days of the Battle of the Somme in what was one of the most horrendous events of First World War.
This has had a major effect on the psyche of the people in the small Province of Northern Ireland to this very day.
Ninety years later “Somme” tries to address the enormity and the futility of it all – not just for Northern Ireland, but for everyone, everywhere. All we can do is to examine what happened at the Somme and try to understand it.
The CD includes classic marching tunes such as Killaloe and Garyowen and classic ballads such as Willie McBride and Bonnie Woodgreen.
The Young Sons of Erin acknowledges the role played by young men from the South of Ireland and Young Crozier of Battenburg Street explores one of the many tragic cases of soldiers being shot for desertion when in actual fact they had been suffering from shell-shock.
Brian Ervine’s The Bloody Road to the Somme gives a thorough account of the role played by Ulster soldiers at the Somme. It concludes with:
“As long as Earth revolves upon its axis turning,
When day sleeps with the dark and wakens with the dawn,
As long as sun goes down and rises in the morning,
We shall remember the Somme.”
The extent to which Ulster Folk ‘remember’ the Somme is addressed in ‘A Thiepval Graveyard’. This was written by Charlie Reynolds after he had visited the site of the battle and the Ulster Tower at Thiepval:
“As A walked awa feelen baith humble an proud
A fun maesel strayen frae the rest o thes crowd
An there on the edge o aul Thiepval wud
A gret an A sabbed whaur brave men yinst stud
A thocht o tha boys free bonny Aramoy
Men o Dervock village an sweet Ballintoy
The syns o Stranacum wha answered the caa
Sae mony frae Thiepval, niver come back ava.”
The Ulster-Scots Folk Orcherstra’s Somme CD is available from the News Letter’s Music Shop, telephone 028 9089 7700.