Waterfront Festival of Remembrance ‘among best yet’

Bandmaster Richard Douglas leads the the Band of The Royal Irish Regiment during Saturday's event at the Waterfront Hall
Bandmaster Richard Douglas leads the the Band of The Royal Irish Regiment during Saturday's event at the Waterfront Hall

The weekend’s Festival of Remembrance in Belfast has been hailed as arguably the most successful since it began in the Province over two decades ago.

The annual extravaganza focused on the anniversary of the end of World War Two, and Royal British Legion Northern Ireland chairman George Black said they will soon start mulling over the programme for next year – when the theme is expected to be World War One-related.

Marc Mallet, presenter for the evening, talks to Irish classical soprano Margaret Keys from Londonderry

Marc Mallet, presenter for the evening, talks to Irish classical soprano Margaret Keys from Londonderry

Mr Black, himself a military veteran who was in the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars for 24 years, said the mixed nature of this year’s roster of performances seemed to satisfy the tastes of the 2,000-or-so attendees at the event, held on Saturday.

“All the reports we’re getting back are, if not the best, it was very close to the best year.

“The programme was just to everybody’s liking; it is difficult to please everybody all the time. It was a mixed programme.”

For him the highlight was singer Margaret Keys, who “captured the audience”.

The Pipes and Drums of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment on stage with the the Band of The Royal Irish Regiment

The Pipes and Drums of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment on stage with the the Band of The Royal Irish Regiment

Mr Black said the event – which used to run in the Ulster Hall but moved into the Waterfront since around the time it opened – said: “We’re taking our breath, then we’ll be sitting down around the table shortly and starting to plan for next year. Obviously, it’s the 100th anniversary of the Somme.”

On Sunday, a project began at the Cenotaph next to Belfast City Hall, which will see miniature crosses laid for those who had died in conflict. More information is available in the legion’s “pop-up shop” in nearby Fountain Street.

In addition, it was announced at the weekend that the Row on Row project will run again this year.

This east Belfast-based scheme saw a field of remembrance created at Pitt Park, with little crosses embedded in the ground in memory of fallen soldiers.

Margaret Keys was one of the highlights of the programme

Margaret Keys was one of the highlights of the programme

The project was launched again on Sunday, and each evening from Monday to November 11 the Last Post will be sounded at 8pm, an oration read, and a silence observed.

On Wednesday at 3pm there will be a community ‘Act of Remembrance’ when local schools will visit the site.

The Union Flag is lowered at the beginning of the Northern Ireland Festival of Remembrance

The Union Flag is lowered at the beginning of the Northern Ireland Festival of Remembrance

Johnny Jameson from Heroes Remembered reciting a poem of 'A Letter Home'

Johnny Jameson from Heroes Remembered reciting a poem of 'A Letter Home'

WW2 veterans, Bill Pennington and Tom Asher, take part in the Muster of the Northern Ireland Festival of Remembrance

WW2 veterans, Bill Pennington and Tom Asher, take part in the Muster of the Northern Ireland Festival of Remembrance