Tuesday 20 March 2018

Take Three: Battlefields

Tanya Sweeney

*TAKE three


Battles and the places they were fought continue to intrigue in this year of significant anniversaries. Visitor numbers to Gettysburg shot up in June to mark the 150th anniversary, and the same is likely to happen next month for the 160th anniversary of the Crimean War.

Another big date looming on the horizon is the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

1 Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg, fought on July 1-3, 1863, is seen as the turning point in America's bloody civil war. Later, President Abraham Lincoln would deliver his Gettysburg Address to commemorate the 50,000 soldiers who died in the battle.

Today, there are more than 1,300 monuments and memorials on an expanse of 6,000 acres. You can visit Gettysburg National Park on horseback, foot, bicycle, a bus, a Segway and even in a horse-drawn carriage (gettysburgtravel.com); take a guide either way.

For an excellent A to Z of what you need to know before visiting Gettysburg, see the National Park Service's website at nps.gov/gett.

2 The Crimea and Kiev

The Crimean war, which began in October 1853, was the war in which Florence Nightingale came to prominence, tending wounded soldiers. From October 22-28, The Crimea, a Jon Baines Tours trip, will visit the region and explore how the war changed warfare and nursing.

Military and medical authority Pete Starling will lead the group. It will visit Livadia Palace, where the Yalta Conference took place, the Swallow's Nest Castle (pictured) and a host of battlefield sites.

The tour includes a day visiting the Crimean War battlefields on the 158th anniversary of the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade. There are also a number of specialist talks.

The cost per person, including return flights from the UK, is £1,690 (€1,990). See jonbainestours.co.uk.

3 Flanders and the Somme

Group Travel International runs tours of Flanders and the Somme with a distinctly Irish focus. During a four-day trip, visitors discover the battlefields of Flanders and the Somme where more than 200,000 Irishmen fought.

The emphasis is on the role of Irish regiments, with visits to Willie Redmond's grave, the 16th Division Memorial, Guillemont and the Island of Ireland Peace Park.

Costs €657pp, including return flights from Dublin, accommodation and visits. See gti-ireland.com.

Irish Independent

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