Special ceremony marking centenary of the death of Killyleagh WWI hero

Special ceremony marking centenary of the death of Killyleagh WWI hero

11 September 2019

A POIGNANT ceremony has been held to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of a Killyleagh war hero.

Townspeople joined family members for a short act of remembrance and commemoration at the grave of James Kilpatrick in St John’s Church of Ireland last Friday morning — 100 years after he died from wounds he sustained during the Great War.

The 42 year-old died at his home in the town in 1919 from injuries he suffered while fighting with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Gallipoli.

On the centenary of his death, his great grandson — also called James Kilpatrick – laid a poppy wreath on his Commonwealth War Grave in the grounds of the church. 

He was accompanied by the chairman of Killyleagh and Killinchy Royal British Legion branch, Billy Croskery, and Zena McAllister of the Sloane’s history group and Killyleagh Remembers the Great War group.

There was a poignant moment when three year-old James Kilpatrick — the fifth consecutive generation of the family to carry the name — placed a small poppy cross on the grave. Local people also placed crosses on the grave.

Earlier, Ann Fee of the Sloane’s history group and Killyleagh Remembers the Great War group opened the commemoration event by explaining that this was a fitting final event in a cross-community programme of events which had been held over the past five years to mark the centenary of the war.

St John’s Church rector, the Rev Colin Darling, conducted a short service of commemoration at the graveside and explained that James Kilpatrick had carried out his duty to his family, to his community in Killyleagh and to his country.

An excerpt from the war poet Wilfred Owen was read by Chris Hagan from the war group, while Binyon’s Lines were recited by Mr Croskery and a two minute silence observed.

The Killyleagh group has expressed thanks to those across the district who have supported not only their centenary events but also their fundraising for charity. 

Over the past five years a total of £1,054 has been raised for charity by the group.

These have included £550 to the Poppy Appeal, £287 to Tearfund, £60 to the Not Forgotten Association and £157 to St John’s Parish for the care and upkeep of the replica battlefield cross crafted from Irish oak by John Scott at the start of the commemorations in August 2014.

 “We want to thank everyone, from all sections of the community, who have supported our efforts since 2014 to explore our shared history of the Great War in Killyleagh and district,’’ said war group chairman Chris Hagan.

“A wide range of people have been involved and hopefully a greater understanding of events 100 years ago has been passed forward to the next generation.”

Mr Hagan added: “Our focus now will be to mark the 75th anniversary, next May, of the end of the Second World War. Hopefully, we will be able to draw together an appropriate cross-community programme of events to be held in Killyleagh next year.’’