Armistice Day 2018 (November 11th) marks 100 years since the cessation of the Great War 1914 – 1918.
An estimated 5000 men from Sligo, (or of immediate Sligo origin) were volunteers during the Great War. Building on war records research by Sligo historian Simone Hickey currently details 602 of these men lost their lives during the conflict or subsequently because of the injuries they suffered. Five civilians including two women also perished.
To recognise and acknowledge the loss of all 607 lives from Sligo county during this catastrophic conflict, Blue Raincoat Theatre Company is organising a large scale public arts participation event which will take place on Armistice Day 2018.
The event will commence at eleven minutes past eleven – the moment armistice came into effect 100 years ago. It will take the form of a silent dignified procession of 607 participants from Sligo city centre to The Great War monument overlooking the town at the junction of Mail Coach Road and Pearse Road.
“To accurately represent the nature of the losses Sligo suffered participants will be men, generally between the ages of 18 – 40 years” explains Niall Henry, Artistic Director of Blue Raincoat Theatre Company. “Each will personally represent a named Sligo casualty. Some households didn’t just lose one person, 3, 4 and 5 sons from different Sligo families perished. Sligo lost 16 people the first day of The Battle of the Somme, a total of 121 for the duration of the battle. The human cost of the Great War was huge in individual lives lost and devastated lives left behind.”
The impact on Sligo and the county was huge with 28% percent of Sligo men of military age (18-40) signed up over the 1914-18 period.
“A Garrison town with reservists, the majority of volunteers were single men, in the age group 18-24” comments Simone Hickey. “Propaganda and economics, the Catholic Church and peer and family pressure were all contributory drivers to the numbers signing up. Fraternity members joined up – tailors, printers, mill workers; brothers followed brothers, pals chummed pals, all off to war.”
The event will be historically neutral. It will be a dignified tribute and public acknowledgement of Sligo’s fatalities from this conflict 100 years on from its cessation.
A project supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
Blue Raincoat Theatre Company would also like to acknowledge the support of Creative Ireland, the Arts Council, Sligo County Council and Sligo Tourist Development Association.