Belfast Telegraph

Gun-running ship among war stories

A steamship's role in smuggling thousands of German guns into the north of Ireland in 1914 is to be documented and shared as part of a wider project to promote understanding of the First World War.

The SS Clyde Valley was bought by unionists and used to land around 20,000 rifles from Imperial Germany at Larne, Co Antrim as the original Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) prepared to resist by force any move to introduce home rule.

A few months later war broke out and thousands of UVF members would go on to join the British Army to fight Germany, as the home rule issue was temporarily shelved by the European conflict.

A community group from Larne is one of five organisations from across Northern Ireland to benefit from £100,000 of Heritage Lottery funding being distributed ahead of the centenary of the start of the war.

Generations - Factory Community Forum has been given £9,600 to record and re-tell the story of the SS Clyde Valley's links to the Larne gun running operation.

The HLF support will also see Newry and Mourne District Council receive almost £40,000 to explore the impact of the war on the area through the creation of a photographic archive, travelling exhibition, lecture series and educational events.

In Tandragee, £10,000 will enable the local British Legion to research the stories of the soldiers named on the town's war memorial.

Almost £22,000 will go to creating a database of soldiers from Ballymoney who fought - an archive that will be used as an educational and research tool.

The Unionist Centenary Committee has been awarded £15,500 to develop a programme of exhibitions, trails and events for communities across Northern Ireland to explore the key events of the period 1913-14 from a series of differing perspectives including unionist, nationalist, female and trade unionist.

Paul Mullan, head of HLF Northern Ireland, said: "All communities living in the UK and Ireland have been affected by the First World War in some way, either by the events that took place, or by the changes it brought about.

"In Northern Ireland, the First World War is one of many key events within the wider Decade of Anniversaries that influenced our society and lives in ways we still feel today.

"Projects like the ones to receive funding today are great examples of how we can support communities to get involved in learning about this period. We have a special programme that provides grants for First World War projects to enable people to mark the upcoming centenary and create a deeper understanding of how the war changed the course of history, not only here in Northern Ireland but throughout the world.

"We have a range of grant programmes for projects, both large and small, that look at events within the Decade of Anniversaries too, and I would encourage anyone interested in running a heritage project to get in touch with us to discuss their idea."

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