Church of Ireland Home

Press Releases

Pilgrimage of hope commences

A pilgrimage of hope to historic and poignant sites relating to the First World War, led by the two Archbishops of Armagh, has commenced with visits to the city of Kortrijk, in Belgium, and Guillemont Cemetery, in France.

A visit to Kortrijk, Belgium, as part of the cross-community pilgrimage of hope.
A visit to Kortrijk, Belgium, as part of the cross-community pilgrimage of hope.

The delegation visited Kortrijk, which was heavily bombed in 1917, yesterday afternoon and arrived at Guillemont this morning. The cemetery is the resting place for many soldiers from the 16th Irish Division who fought at the Battle of the Somme.

Visiting Guillemont Cemetery.
Visiting Guillemont Cemetery.

This was followed by a visit to the Ulster Tower – a memorial to the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division which suffered very heavy losses on 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  The delegation then travelled to the nearby Thiepval Memorial and the Y Ravine Cemetery.

The pilgrims pictured at the Ulster Tower.
The pilgrims pictured at the Ulster Tower.

The group of pilgrims comprises 36 people of varying ages and backgrounds and representing the Protestant and Catholic traditions, including a core group of 16 young adults, who in visiting the war sites and memorials will be able to forge friendships and share their thoughts and hopes for the future while exploring their cultural identities.

Archbishop Richard Clarke (Church of Ireland) and Archbishop Eamon Martin (Catholic Church) previously led a cross–community delegation of young people from across the island of Ireland to the battle sites of the Somme two years ago; the current pilgrimage marks the upcoming centenary of the end of the First World War.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has provided generous financial support to enable the group of young people to journey with the Archbishops on this pilgrimage.

A selection of photos from the pilgrimage is available in the gallery below:


Pilgrimage of Hope to Messines
Pilgrimage of Hope to Messines


For further information please contact:

Church of Ireland Press Office 
Church of Ireland House 
61–67 Donegall Street 
Belfast, BT1 2QH 

Tel: (028) 9082 8880 (from NI)
Tel: (048) 9082 8880 (from RoI)
Email: Press Office 

Peter Cheney

+44 (0)7774 295369

Janet Maxwell

+353 (0)87 948 4412