Great War Truce Comes Alive In Portaferry

Young people from across the Upper Ards brought The Great War to a small field in Portaferry last Friday (9th January) when they re-enacted the 1914 Christmas Day truce football match.

[caption id="attachment_54186" align="alignright" width="390"]xx Young recruits: Cara McGrath and Natalie Ennis from St Columba’s College get ready for a bowl of stew. [/caption]

Young recruits: Cara McGrath and Natalie Ennis from St Columba’s College share stories over stew

About 30 students from Glastry and St Columba’s Colleges took part in the cross-community event organised by Portico, the region’s emerging new arts and heritage centre. Ten of them donned World War I uniforms for the match, before retreating to Annie’s Café for a welcome bowl of stew.

Amid the period setting of the town square café, the students entered into the role of former WWI combatants who were now firm friends, sharing stories over lunch.

The commemorative ‘football and feast’ kick-started a joint schools project to research and write biographies of all those from Portaferry and the surrounding area who served in World War I. Led by Portico, the initiative is backed by the Reconciliation Fund from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin.

“It was a great cross-community event”, said Glastry College history teacher Carrie Hoey, “with all students rising to the occasion, as together they became WWI soldiers for the day.”

St Columba’s history teacher Sean Gordon commented: ‘We experienced one of those ‘shared history’ moments as St Columba’s College mixed with Glastry College for Portico’s WWI football game. When the students stopped for a bowl of stew at Annie’s Cafe in Portaferry, the whole place looked like a film set. It was just inspiring”.