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Armagh commemorates 80th anniversary of D–Day

Armagh commemorates 80th anniversary of D–Day

Leaders from civic and community life alongside members of the public gathered in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh, on Thursday evening (6th June 2024) for a service of commemoration, recalling with gratitude, the sacrifice made by so many on the beaches of Normandy exactly 80 years ago. 

The service was attended by His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for County Armagh, the Earl of Caledon KCVO JP; the Deputy Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough, Councillor Kyle Savage; aldermen and councillors of the borough; and representatives of the Royal British Legion, veterans’ associations and youth organisations.

In his introduction, the Very Reverend Shane Forster, Dean of Armagh, reminded the congregation that “D–Day was the largest naval, air and land operation in history, with allied soldiers, sailors and airmen working together to achieve a victory which was fiercely fought,” Dean Forster continued, “As we bring to mind the events of 6th June 1944, may we recommit ourselves to the cause of peace and justice for which so many fought and died, and by the grace of God, prove worthy of their sacrifice each day of our lives.”

  • The procession as the service begins.
  • Act of Remembrance.
  • The Lord Lieutenant lights the beacon.
  • Remembering the fallen with the light of peace.

An Act of Remembrance, which was followed by two minutes of silence, was led by Mr Stanley Burrows BEM, Vice–President of the Armagh Branch of the Royal British Legion.

While playing a Lament, the piper preceded members of the Combined Cadet Force and the Army Cadet Force who carried the Lamp Light of Peace through the Cathedral and placed it in the Sanctuary. The light from the flame represents the ‘light of peace’ that emerged from the darkness of war and the lamp is coloured red to represent the ultimate sacrifice made by so many on the beaches of Normandy, and throughout the Second World War.

The prayers of St Ignatius of Loyola and Sir Francis Drake, as said during the Eve of Battle Dedication Service of Headquarters Second Army, in Portsmouth on 4th June 1944, were read by the Dean and the Very Revd Barry Matthews, Administrator of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral.

The Bible readings were from Joshua 4:19–24 and Romans 8:35–39, with Psalm 46 and the anthems ‘For the Fallen’ and ‘Expectans Expectavi’ sung by the Cathedral Choir.  The congregational hymns included ‘God of grace and God of glory’, ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind’, ‘God is love: let heaven adore him’ and ‘Guide me, O thou great Jehovah’.

In the course of his sermon, Canon Barry Paine spoke on wisdom from the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future.  “We worship Almighty God and give thanks for so many young men prepared to die for a civilisation that was worth living in,” he remarked.  It is for today’s young generation, he said, to remember “what was given up so that we may have freedom.”  Canon Paine added: “This life that we have got is so precious; life in Christ is much more precious.  We need to tell of God’s faithfulness, the Christ that we have within, so that future generations may come and sing his praises.”

A special collection to support the work of the Royal British Legion, and the Soldiers’, Sailors’ & Airmen’s Families Association (SSAFA) was taken during the service.

At its close, a beacon was lit by the Lord Lieutenant in the grounds of the Cathedral looking east over Market Square, as part of a national initiative to remember the sacrifice made on 6th June 1944.

With thanks to Jonathan Hull for photography

Church of Ireland Press Office

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