Reed Travel Features
NEWTOWNARDS, Northern Ireland -- The Somme Heritage Center here
tells the story of the more than 250,000 Irish men and women who
served their country in the armed forces and in factories during
World War I.
There is a strong focus at the center on the Battle of the Somme
in France and on how Protestants, Catholics, Unionists and
Nationalists ignored their differences and fought side-by-side for
Visitors are taken through reconstructed trenches and experience
events through the eyes of soldiers of the 36th Ulster Division as
they fought the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
The division, which was formed largely from the Protestant and
Unionist Ulster Volunteer Force, played a leading part in this
battle and lost 5,500 men in the first two days of fighting.
The 16th Irish Division, which drew many recruits from the
National Volunteers -- organized to fight for Irish self-government
-- lost 4,000 men capturing the villages of Guillemont and Ginchy
in the later stages of the Somme battle.
Guides and displays explain and re-create the experience of
joining-up, training and life in the trenches during the the
The museum is open September through June, Tuesday to Sunday
from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; during July and August, from 11 a.m. to 6
p.m. Monday to Saturday; 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is
about $6 per person; group rates are available.
The Somme Heritage Center, located about 30 minutes from
Belfast, can be reached at (011) 44-124782-3202.