Sacrifice and bravery of WWI sailors remembered in city mural

Pete Bleakley, project historian, Jennifer Hawthorne, head of cohesion, Housing Executive, Angela Johnston, Greater Village Regeneration Trust, and Senior Naval Officer Northern Ireland Commander John Gray at Sunday's unveiling of the Barrington Gardens artwork
Pete Bleakley, project historian, Jennifer Hawthorne, head of cohesion, Housing Executive, Angela Johnston, Greater Village Regeneration Trust, and Senior Naval Officer Northern Ireland Commander John Gray at Sunday's unveiling of the Barrington Gardens artwork

South Belfast wall artwork remembers WWI sailors lost in HMS Hawke

The story of their bravery and sacrifice is now told on the new Barrington Gardens mural, supported by the Housing Executive through the Greater Village Regeneration Trust.

Sea Cadet Melissa Ram at the artwork

Sea Cadet Melissa Ram at the artwork

The HMS Hawke art installation, which uses a net and rope framework, was created by local Sea Cadets. It includes 524 hand-made satin poppies – one for each victim of the sinking – which together form a unique memorial to the lost seamen.

The sinking of HMS Hawke had a big impact on Northern Ireland as 49 of the 524 sailors who died were from the Province.

Jennifer Hawthorne, the Housing Executive’s head of cohesion, said the project “has seen the local community take ownership of a gable wall which previously was a site of racist and sectarian graffiti”.

She added: “This unique artwork has achieved the groups’ aims of creating a poignant reminder of local people’s sacrifice during WWI. I commend the local community’s enthusiasm and wholehearted backing for this initiative.”

Angela Johnston from the Greater Village Regeneration Trust added: “Creating the ‘poppy wall’ gave members of the local community, many of whom have relatives with a service connection, a hands-on involvement in the project.”

Project designer of the art installation, Pete Bleakley, said: “The Donegall Road was one of WWI’s biggest suppliers of fighting men and the loss of HMS Hawke hit the Donegall Road and Greater Belfast hard.

“It is fitting that, just over a century later, they now have a memorial dedicated to their honour, service and sacrifice.”

The HMS Hawke was an Edgar class protected cruiser. The ship was sunk in only eight minutes by a single German torpedo at 10.50am on October 15, 1914. Its wreck lies 190 miles east of Aberdeen and 400 feet down in the North Sea.