News story

Events mark centenary of outbreak of First World War

NI Ministers will be taking part in several centenary events over the coming days. You can also get involved in the commemorations.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


A series of national commemorative events will take place across the UK on Monday 4 August to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, and Northern Ireland Office Minister, Dr Andrew Murrison MP, will attend a service for the Commonwealth in Glasgow Cathedral on Monday morning.

Dr Murrison, who is also the Prime Minister’s special representative for the Centenary Commemoration of the First World War, will then attend a ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s St Symphorien cemetery in Mons, Belgium.

Speaking ahead of Monday’s events, The Secretary of State said:

100 years on from the start of the First World War and the huge scale of the conflict and the enormous loss of life is no less shocking today. It is very important that we remember the sacrifice made by men and women from across these islands who gave so much for our freedom. Events over the coming days will also raise awareness of the UK and Ireland’s shared history and improve our understanding of the causes and consequences of war.

Dr Murrison said:

The Centenary commemorations will provide an opportunity to explore and reflect on history shared by the UK and Ireland, and by the communities in Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State will attend a service of remembrance at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast on Monday evening, alongside HRH The Duke of York. Senior figures from the main churches in Northern Ireland will be present along with representatives of other faith communities. Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht of Dáil Éireann will also attend.

Ms Villiers will then take part in a candlelight vigil from 10 -11pm in the grounds of Belfast City Hall, to coincide with similar events taking place across the UK. Lights at the City Hall will be switched off as part of ‘Lights Out’, a UK-wide moment of reflection to mark 100 years since the start of the First World War.

The Northern Ireland First World War Centenary Committee, chaired by Jeffrey Donaldson MP, has identified the twin themes of remembrance and reconciliation for its commemoration events.

How you can get involved

Members of the public are welcome to attend the candlelight vigil at 10pm in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Similar events will be taking place in communities across Northern Ireland.

Anyone can take part in Lights Out, from their home or workplace, by switching off their lights from 10 - 11pm, leaving only a single light or candle lit.

As part of the lottery funded 14-18 NOW cultural programme, international artist Bob and Roberta Smith will take over the East Lawn of the City Hall grounds to create an illuminating installation of a statement from ‘Letter to an Unknown Soldier’. The installation will be on view from 6pm on 4 August and the public will be invited to light the candles within it at 10pm. Further details are available from 14-18 Now.

The Letter to an Unknown Soldier project asks people to send a personal message to the Unknown Soldier, whose statue at London’s Paddington Station is seen reading a letter. It’s not too late to contribute a letter – the project runs until 11pm on 4 August.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has provided a useful toolkit and advice on ways to get involved in First World War commemorations, from learning about local heroes to helping your community mark the centenary. Throughout the 4 August, you can stay informed about the different events taking place by following #WW1Aug4 on Twitter.

Published 1 August 2014