Online presence boosts WWI data
Lest Sligo Forgets (LSF) recently launched an an on-line presence - lestsligoforgets.org.
LSF is a voluntary community-based organisation established in 2017 for the purpose of developing a permanent memorial to 621 (currently known) people from County Sligo who lost their lives in World War I.
The committee's initial efforts resulted in a successful memorial concert being held in Sligo on 11 November 2017, the 99th anniversary of the ending of the war in 1918. Building upon the positive public response to this concert, the committee began planning for a permanent memorial dedicated to those lost to Sligo in World War I.
Sligo Armistice Day event took place on November 11th 2018 and marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the war. Over 600 Volunteers from throughout the County, each representing by name one of Sligo's war dead and clothed in period-style civilian attire were recruited by the Blue Raincoat theatre company. On Armistice Day their silent processions through the streets of Sligo, following the tolling for two minutes of all local church bells provided one of the most poignant remembrance events held worldwide.
Progress on delivering the memorial garden itself is now also very advanced. Designed by Hamilton Young Architects, the County Sligo Great War Memorial Garden will be located at Cleveragh Park. It will be comprise of eight sentinel stones, each bearing names of the 621 people who died. These names will be listed alphabetically, according to their townland of origin, making this a true County-wide memorial. Unique stone seats carved by local sculptor Martha Quinn will complete the garden. The memorial is intended to be a quiet place of reflection and remembrance nestled in a peaceful landscaped setting overlooking the Garavogue.
Speaking to The Sligo Champion about the launch of the LSF on-line presence the committee Chairperson Tommy Higgins said: "The committee is very keen to create a proper on-line forum where people, not just from here in Sligo and Ireland, but around the world - and particularly the Irish diaspora with Sligo connections - would be able to engage with this process. It is an ambitious public project and it will also be an important place of healing and remembrance.
"There are also a number of schemes in place on the website where people can help support the project financially," said Tommy. "You can for example become a Name Benefactor to one of the names that will appear on the memorial stones. Community groups and businesses can become benefactors of a townland, there are 55 county townlands detailed on the site, and each person named will be listed under their town-land of origin." LSF are asking as many people as possible to check out the site and to share links and information.
"We're starting from zero in terms of web presence, and we welcome support building our on-line momentum. We've the full suite of social media platforms attached to our campaign and these are already building very well, but every on-line share and link and boost we get will be hugely beneficial. The expertise and experience in Sligo surrounding social media building and on-line networking is exceptional, we have a bit of it on our own committee, but we need all that Sligo expertise and community spirit to push this cause out into the on-line world for us as well".
Lest Sligo Forgets in partnership with Sligo County Council will officially open the County Sligo Great War 1914 - 1918 Memorial Garden in October or early November 2019. It's barely a month old but already the Lest Sligo Forgets website is unearthing some powerful Sligo stories of World War I.
One of the key aims of the site is to ensure LSF can get the record of names, all those who will be included on the memorial stones, as accurate as possible. LSF are asking people through the website and social media to check this list and ensure any relative or person they know of, from Sligo or of Sligo origin who died in World War I, is indeed included, and to contact them directly if not.
A grant of €10,000 has been received from the Royal British Legion/Republic of Ireland's Poppy Ireland fund. Meanwhile, the new LSF website is beginning to draw in local business benefactors who have committed between €500 and €1000 , in addition to invaluable supports-in-kind including extensive engineering and architectural expertise, legal and financial services as well as web development and marketing, all being fully underwritten by local companies.
LSF Chairperson Tommy Higgins says the group's fundraising target will be in the order of €80,000. "The grants from PeaceIV and the Irish Poppy fund are a brilliant platform. These grants added to the wonderful local support we've already received puts us about halfway to where we need to be. One large push now for public support we will get the job completed in 2019."