Because He Loves What Is Behind Him

The Shankill Somme Association’s garden of reflection has added a number of new boards.

The board shown above is JP Beadle’s painting “Battle of the Somme: Attack of the Ulster Division”, which hangs in Belfast City Hall (militaryprints.com). It replaces a painting of a soldier in a field of poppies, seen in The Great War.

To its left is John Singer Sargent’s painting “Gassed”, showing the “aftermath of an indiscriminate mustard gas attack on British forces during the Battle of Arras 21st August 1918” (which also forms a part of a memorial in east Belfast) with the GK Chesterton quote “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is front of him, but because he loves what is behind him”.

Also new – and somewhat out of place – is the Northern Ireland Centenary board featuring James Craig: “It would be rather interesting for historians of the future to compare a Catholic state launched in the south with a Protestant state launched in the north and to see which gets on the better and prospers the more”. There are other “floreat Ultona” boards/murals in the Village (focusing on the B Specials and UDR) and in Rathcoole (where “Ulster welcomes her King and Queen”).

There are also three insignia on the gates (compare with M05717), to the Royal Navy, the Ulster Volunteer Medical & Nursing Corps, and the Royal Flying Corp.

Previously (c. 2017), the undead soldiers of We Shall Not Sleep were replaced with an image of the Cross Of Sacrifice memorial – the original is in Ypres, Belgium but there is also one in the City Cemetery – see One In Design And Intention. At the same time, the poppy plaques for individual local soldiers and the image of the Menin Gate were also added.

The Flanders Field board appears to have survived since 2012 – see Somme Memorial.

The final image below shows the new stone surround for the main memorial. See (again) Somme Memorial and for a close-up of the frosted glass, Reflections On The Somme.

For the 20th anniversary electrical box on the footpath outside, see Shankill Somme Association.

With thanks to Paddy Duffy for the photographs.

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Always Remembered By The People Of The Shankill

A fourth memorial was added to the side of the Shankill Leisure Centre for the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the Balmoral Furniture Showrooms on the Shankill Road, with two photographs from the aftermath. The one on the left, of a fireman carrying the body of Colin Nichol/Nicholl, was reproduced in the old mural in Bellevue Street and in Dundee Street in successive printed murals (one | two) of the four “Shankill atrocities”.

“In eternal memory of those who lost their lives in the indiscriminate bombing of the Balmoral Showrooms by the IRA on the 11th December 1971. Colin Nicholl 17 months (Protestant), Tracey Jane Munn 2 years old (Protestant), Harold King 29 years old (Catholic), Hugh Bruce 70 years old (Protestant). Also all 19 injured in the no warning bomb including Tracey’s mother as she pushed the two children by in their pram. They will always be remembered by the people of the Shankill area and further afield. Close to our hearts they will always stay/Loved and remembered everyday. Sponsored by Greater Shankill ACT Initiative. Donated by T. Hamilton Memorials.”

“Balmoral Furniture Showooms bombed 12.15 pm Saturday 11th December 1971. 2 adults & 2 babies killed.”

“Balmoral Furniture Showrooms massacre, 50th anniversary. In memory of those who were killed at this spot, and in tribute to those who were injured, on 11th December 1971, by a sectarian, IRA murder gang. Donated by Stephen McCosh, on behalf of the Nicholl family.”

“This poppy cross is in memory of the two men and two babies murdered at this spot by a no warning IRA bomb attack on the Balmoral Furniture shop on 11th December 1971.”

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The Kilcooley Arch

An arch of a different kind in the Kilcooley estate: a reflective steel arc overlooking a circular mosaic.

“This steel and ceramic sculpture was created by the residents, children and young people from the Kilcooley Community, working in collaboration with visual artists Duncan Ross and Helen Sharp. The sculpture was created as part of the North Down Borough Council Art of Regeneration Project. The sculpture was officially launched by the Chair of the Art of Regeneration Partnership Councillor Alan Leslie on the 28th April 2009. Funded by the Art Council of NI, NI Housing Executive, North Down Local Strategy Partnership through Peace II, Department for Social Development and North Down Borough Council. Tiles printed and suppled by Edinburgh Ceramics.”

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On Guard

The war memorial in Redburn Square, Holywood, was removed in 2017 while the square was redeveloped (Belfast Live). It returned that November (County Down Spectator Fb) with a new base and several additions have been made since then, including the bench above (with art deco styling), a NI Centenary stone (below), and reproduction photographs from the period covering the utility box (final image), including one of the statue many years previously – it was sculpted by Leonard Merrifield and unveiled January, 1922, with the dedication a few months later (History Hub Ulster video | Wartime NI). In addition to the names of 110 locals who perished in the Great War, there are 28 names from WWII (Ulster War Memorials) and one from the Korean War (Traces Of War).

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For The Football

Before he died (in 2005), George Best asked that people “remember me for my football” and the phrase became the title of a Best retrospective. It is also inspired the life-size title of the statue of created by Tony Currie and funded by fans (Belfast Live) in front of Windsor Park (and the Glen Molly (ig) mural in Hill Street). When it was launched, the statue drew criticism for not looking like its subject (BBC | Newsletter). Soccer star sculptures are perhaps hard to do: here’s a list of ten questionable statues of soccer stars, including Maradona in Kolkata (Guardian) and Ronaldo in Madeira (BBC), but missing Mo Salah in Sharm al-Sheikh (BBC).

For an awkward painting of Best, see The Best A Man Can Get in Newtownards.

See also the new Best mural in Cregagh: Maradona Good, Pelé Better, George Best

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Iconostases

This is a small memorial to the fallen British soldiers tucked away in Ogilvie Street, Belfast, that serves to remind the locals always to keep the sacrifice of the 36th Division always in mind. Below is the board next to it, originally seen in 2013.

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Gone But Not Forgotten

Robert Dougan was commander of the UDA South Belfast Brigade and lived the Oranmore Drive (BelTel). He was killed by the IRA on February 10th, 1998 while sitting in a car outside Balmoral Textiles in Dunmurry, which led to a month-long expulsion of Sinn Féin from the talks (L.A. Times); two months later the Good Friday Agreement was signed. There had been attempts on his life in 1993 and 1994 (Irish Times).

The plaques, from left to right, are to Rodney McBride (1996), Alec Legge (2007), Jim Bradshaw (2008), Robert Dougan (1998), Greg Bradshaw (2014), David Pollock (2015). Harry Haggan (2010), William Stevenson (2008).

Tildarg Avenue. There is a mural to Dougan on Sandy Row – see Everyone’s Friend.

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Somme Memorial Cross

The ‘bend in the road’ (Crumlin Road, just before Ligoniel) is the site of the Somme Memorial Cross. It’s not clear who erected or maintains it and indeed the Union flag flying behind it has been reduced to a stump.

A little further up the road, a new ‘cultural hub’ has been proposed for the site of the old Ligoniel Orange hall (Belfast Live) which was destroyed in a fire in 2000 (BBC).

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The Men From Whitehead

“At the going down of the sun.” The smaller of the two World War memorials in Whitehead was updated last year for the 100th anniversary of the Royal British Legion. The stone (shown last, below) was originally dedicated in 1996, for the 75th anniversary. The plate on the bench reads: “In memory of Mr Royal British Legion, Hector (Sandy) McGregor, 1920-2014. ‘Service not self'”

The larger memorial (shown above) was dedicated in 2019 (Mid&East Antrim) and replaced a smaller memorial which also had the names of the locals who were killed in the world wars. “Greater love hath no man – We will remember them. In grateful memory of the men from Whitehead who gave their lives in World War I & II.” With a wreath from LOL 968.

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Homeless Jesus

‘Homeless Jesus’ shows a person with crucified feet sleeping outdoors on a bench. It was designed by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz (web). The original is at the University Of Toronto and there are now well over 100 of them at churches and other public sites around the world (WP). This one is outside the Centenary House offices of Salvation Army, in Dunbar Link.

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