Descendants of Irish sailors will travel from across the world to attend the Commemoration of the Irish Sailor during the First World War in Belfast on Tuesday 31 May.
Relatives of sailors both of the Royal Navy and Mercantile Marine will be in attendance at the Commemoration at Alexandra Dock with HMS Caroline as the backdrop, during which the cruiser will be officially opened. The date was especially chosen as the Centenary of the Battle of Jutland, the most significant naval battle of the First World War.
The Royal Navy and Irish Naval Service will stand side by side to mark all from the Island of Ireland who served at sea and wreaths will be laid on behalf of both.
Senior political and military representatives from the UK and Ireland will be attendance alongside a German Naval Admiral. The ports of Ireland, Irish Lights and maritime emergency services will also gather with families of those who served, and Belfast City Council will host all attendees for a civic lunch on completion of the ceremony.
Irish naval ship LÉ CIARA and British Naval Ship HMS RAMSEY will be in port for the preceding weekend and open to the public as part of Belfast’s Maritime Festival.
The Battle of Jutland involved 100,000 men over the course of 36 hours in which time Britain lost 14 ships and 6000 sailors and Germany lost 11 ships and 2500 sailors. Over 350 of the men lost were from Ireland.
Karen O’Rawe, Chair History Hub Ulster said: 'The Commemoration to the Irish Sailor is a significant all-island event, the contemporary relevance of which should not be underestimated.
'The event is a timely reminder that 1916 is not all about the Easter Rising and the Battles of the Somme. The sacrifice of so many men from these shores who fought at sea, the maritime war and the impact of it on our island tends to be overlooked.
'The Centenary of the Battle of Jutland and the launch of HMS Caroline is the perfect context to be officially recognising the contribution of all those in maritime roles on the island of Ireland in the 1914-18 period.'