Memorial dedicated on 68th anniversary of Belfast Blitz

Tuesday April 21st 2009

The Blitz Memorial.The thousand people who died in the Blitz on Northern Ireland have been commemorated by a new memorial.  The bronze memorial was dedicated on April 16, the 68th anniversary of the Blitz on Belfast.

The memorial was dedicated by the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Houston McKelvey.  The Presbyterian Church was represented by the Rev Jack Drennan, Minister of Crumlin Road Presbyterian Church, whose church was destroyed in the Blitz.  The Very Rev Brendan Murray, Holy Family Parish, represented the Roman Catholic Church.  The Chairman of the Belfast Jewish Community, Edwin Coppel, also took part in the ceremony.

The civic representatives were Commander Keith Cochrane, Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Councillor Frank McCoubrey, High Sheriff and Mr Nigel Dodds, MP for North Belfast.  The Royal British Legion was represented by Colonel Mervyn Elder, Northern Ireland President.

The memorial is in the exhibition hall of the Northern Ireland War Memorial in 21 Talbot Street, beside Belfast Cathedral.  It was commissioned by the trustees of the NI War Memorial.  The Chairman, Lieutenant Colonel C T Hogg, said “There is no national memorial to those who died in the Blitz on Belfast on Easter Tuesday 16 April 1941 and on the three other nights.  We must not forget that the bombings took place not only on Belfast and the surrounding areas but also on Londonderry.”

The dedication was attended by a hundred guests, who included some who remembered the Blitz as well as families whose forebears died in the conflagration.

The Chief Fire Officer, Colin Lammey, was present, as were Eamon Woulfe, the Chief Fire Officer of Dundalk, and Stephen Brady, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Dublin, whose appliances came north to assist with extinguishing the fires.  The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service was represented by Gary Richardson, Belfast Area Manager.

In a talk about the Blitz prior to the dedication, the Curator, John Potter, commented “The Blitz was the single greatest tragedy in the history of Belfast.  A thousand people died and hundreds were injured.  In addition to the destruction in the docks, half the housing stock suffered damage, leaving 15,000 people homeless.”

The memorial is by the distinguished sculptress, Carolyn Mulholland.  Her large bronze relief has cut-out positive and negative shapes to represent the space left by the death of a person.  An orphan, and a woman who has lost her baby, are portrayed.  The figures stand in a mass of fallen planks, the sharp angular shapes of which represent the shock of destruction.

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