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Ulster Museum's tribute to 1916, a year soaked in blood of Somme soldiers and Rising rebels

By Allan Preston

A new exhibition exploring the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme in 1916 opens at the Ulster Museum today.

Remembering 1916: Your Stories, features artefacts donated by the public as well as loans from the National Museum of Ireland and the Imperial War Museum.

Rare objects from both conflicts will be on display together for the first time, including uniforms, equipment, medals, firearms, photographs and poignant personal mementoes.

These include a recently acquired Irish Volunteer tunic thought to have been worn in the Easter Rising by Irish volunteer Jack Greenan from Keady, Co Armagh.

Another item is the blood-stained booklet of Private Adam Stewart from Co Londonderry, one of those killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Many of the objects on display have a direct link to prominent personalities from both conflicts.

These include northern republicans such as Denis McCullough, Roger Casement, Bulmer Hobson and Winifred Carney.

From the Battle of the Somme, the exhibition includes items associated with Major General Nugent, commander of the 36th (Ulster Division) and Lord Farnham, his aide-de-camp.

Two paintings of Thiepval in France by William Orpen, considered to be one of the most important war artists, are on loan from the Imperial War Museum. The National Museum of Ireland has provided an autograph book from Reading Jail with the signatures of then inmates and Irish political leaders Denis McCullough, Sean T. O'Kelly (who became the second President of Ireland) and Arthur Griffith.

The display has been developed in collaboration with a Queen's University research project, Living Legacies 1914-18.

William Blair, Head of History at National Museums Northern Ireland, said he hoped the display would give people here a greater understanding of the impact which the events of 1916 had on wider society. The exhibition will run until 2017 and will be accompanied by a series of talks and curator-led tours, workshops, film screenings and family activity events. Admission to the Ulster Museum is free. For further information, visit www.nmni.com/um.

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