WW1: The Western Front with Ronan McGreevy

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Flanders, The Somme, Aisne Region & The Lille Sector

 
This fascinating itinerary follows the events and visits the monuments discussed in Ronan McGreevy’s book Wherever the Firing Line Extends: Ireland and the Western Front. Described by The Irish Independent as the “definitive account of Ireland in World War I”, this book tells the story of the remarkable legacy left behind by the Irish on the Western Front.
 
Ronan McGreevy is an Irish Times journalist and videographer. He is the presenter of the documentary United Ireland: how Nationalists and Unionists fought together in Flanders. He also is the editor of Centenary - Ireland remembers 1916, the official State book covering the commemorations of 2016 and is editor of Was it for This? Reflections on the Easter Rising, The Mad Guns: Reflections on the Battle of the Somme and ‘Twas Better to Die: The Irish Times and Gallipoli 1915-2015.

Inclusions

  • Return flights from Dublin to Brussels & executive coach transfers
  • Professional historian guide, Ronan McGreevy
  • 3 nights accommodation in the superior Novotel Ieper Centrum Flanders Fields hotel located in the heart of Ypres with breakfast
  • Guided visits to key sites of the Flanders Battlefields including the First Shot Memorial at Casteau, Nimy Bridge, memorial to the 2nd Royal Irish Regiment, memorial plaque to the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, Willie Redmond's Grave, the 16th Irish Division Memorial at Wytschaete, Island of Ireland Peace Park, Mouse Trap Farm, John Condon's Grave, Francis Ledwidge Memorial, Tyne Cott & Passchendaele
  • Visit to the Aisne region including Etreux, Iron & Guise
  • Visit to the The Lille sector including Herlies, St Mary’s Advanced Dressing Station, the grave of John Kipling & Noeux Les Mines
  • Visit to the Somme Battlefields to include Memorial to the Tyneside Irish, Loughnagar Crater, The Ulster Tower, Thiepval Memorial, Ginchy & Guillemont
  • Visit to the interactive In Flanders Field Museum in Ypres
  • Attendance at the emotive Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial

Itinerary


Day 1 - Flanders Battlefields & the Aisne region of Northern France

Fly from Dublin to Brussels. Meet up with your tour guide, Ronan McGreevy, on arrival and depart for the Flanders Battlefields. Your 1st stop is the First Shot Memorial at Casteau commemorating the story of Corporal Ernest Thomas, of the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards. He is said to be the first man of the British Forces to fire on the Germans near Casteau on 22 August. Continue to Nimy Bridge to see the plaque dedicated to Maurice Dease, a lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers. Next visit the memorial to the 2nd Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) and the memorial plaque to the 5th Royal Irish Lancers in Mons town centre.

After some free time for lunch you will depart for the Aisne region of Northern France. First visit Etreux where the 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers were tasked with holding their ground at all costs. Visit Etreux Cemetery before departing for Iron and from here continue to Guise where on 29 of August 1914 the Battle of St. Quentin was fought. See the execution yard and cemetery before departing for Ypres. Check-in to your hotel for overnight.

 

Day 2 - The Lille sector & Menin Gate Memorial

Breakfast at your hotel. En route to the Lille sector you will visit Willie Redmond's Grave. Willie Redmond was the brother of John Redmond, leader of the Irish parliamentary party.

Continue to the Lille sector where you will first visit Herlies where there is a new Peace Park to the Irish who died at Le Pilly in October 1914). Drive from Herlies to Rue Du Bois. Here visit the site where Father Francis Gleeson preformed The Last General Absolution of the Munster Fusiliers at Rue du Bois & Le Touret Memorial commemorating over 13,400 soldiers who were killed in this sector.

Continue to Haisnes to visit St Mary’s Advanced Dressing Station, the grave of John Kipling and new message board to the 16th (Irish) Division in the cemetery. Next is a visit to the Loos Memorial to the Missing.

After free time for lunch in Noeux Les Mines followed by visit to memorial in the church to the 16th (Irish) Division. Return to Ypres to visit the award-winning In Flanders Field Museum.

This evening hear the Last Post performed at the Menin Gate Memorial. This is one of the most visited memorials on the Western front and stands in commemoration to the 54,896 missing soldiers who lost their lives during battles in the area. Every evening at 8pm the noise of traffic ceases and a stillness descends over the memorial as the emotive “Last Post” is sounded in honour of these lost soldiers. Return to your hotel for overnight.

Day 3 - The Somme

Breakfast at your hotel Your first stop today will be at the 16th Irish Division Memorial at Wytschaete, commemorating the 16th Division's capture of Wytschaete on 07 June 1917, the opening day of the Battle of Messines. Continue to the Island of Ireland Peace Park & the Irish Round Tower at its centre. This memorial is of particular significance as it was the first time Irish Catholic and Protestant soldiers united together to fight side by side against a common enemy.

Continue to The Somme to visit Memorial to the Tyneside Irish and Loughnagar Crater. Loughnagar Crater, blown along with 16 others on the morning of 01 July 1916 as a two-minute precursor to the start of the Battle of the Somme offensive. The crater measured 300ft across and 90ft deep while debris from the explosion rose some 4,000ft into the air.

Next visit The Ulster Tower, a memorial to the men of the 36th Ulster Division. Inside the tower is a small chapel with a number of paintings and plaques from the various towns and boroughs of Northern Ireland while at the entrance to the tower is a plaque commemorating the names of the nine men of the division who won the Victoria Cross during the Somme. Also see Thiepval Memorial. Standing in an isolated windswept position on the Somme, Thiepval is the largest and one of the most emotive "Memorials to the Missing" from any war.

After free time for lunch continue to the 16th Irish Division Memorial at Guillemont marking some of the bloodiest fighting of the whole Somme campaign. Also visit Ginchy & Guillemont Road Cemetery before returning to Ypres for overnight.

Day 4 - Ypres & Departure

Breakfast at your hotel and check-out. Today visit the plaque at Mouse Trap Farm. The assault on Mouse Trap Farm was to be the Germans’ last attempt to take Ypres from the British. Three Irish battalions held the line around Mouse Trap Farm.

Continue to John Condon's Grave in Poelcappelle cemetery. Private John Condon of the Royal Irish Regiment, who at 14 is thought to be the youngest battle casualty of WW1 commemorated by the Commission. Also see the Francis Ledwidge Memorial to the renowned Irish poet in Artillery Wood Cemetery.

Free time for lunch before seeing the new monument to the Irish who died at Passchendaele (Zonnebeke). Continue to Tyne Cott cemetery, the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world, the sheer number of graves making it difficult to take in. Inside the cemetery two mourning angels kneel on top of dome-covered pavilions at either end of the memorial wall, highlighting the harrowing nature of the conflict in the surrounding area of Passchendaele.

Depart by executive coach to Brussels for your return flight to Dublin.

 

Accommodation

Extra Information

  1. Price based on 2 sharing including all airport taxes & charges 
  2. Single room supplement €129pp. If you are travelling alone and are willing to share a twin room with another group member of the same sex, we will do our best to accommodate this request although it cannot be guaranteed
  3. Non refundable / non transferable deposit of €250pp required at time of booking
  4. Balance due 10 weeks before departure 
  5. Price includes 1 standard piece of hand luggage. Checked-in luggage is available to purchase prior to travel - prices may vary
  6. Optional insurance available from €19pp (terms & conditions apply)
  7. City taxes may apply, payable locally at your hotel
  8. Flights, taxes, prices & itinerary subject to change
  9. Booking terms & conditions apply 
 

  Cost per person: €697pp
  Number of nights: 3
  Dates available: March 2019

Travelling: 24 Mar - 27 Mar 2019 from €697

Tour supplied in Partnership with:

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  Call:  00353 1 808 5206