Danny Boyle launches amazing World War One portrait project on beaches across Britain and Ireland
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Danny Boyle launches amazing World War One portrait project on beaches across Britain and Ireland

DANNY BOYLE has overseen a project that saw portraits of World War One service personnel created on beaches across Britain and Ireland for Armistice Day.

The Trainspotting director created Pages of the Sea in conjunction with 14-18 Now, a five-year programme of arts experiences connecting people with the First World War.

At 32 beaches, portraits of servicemen and women who lost their lives were created to mark the centenary of the end of the conflict.

Boyle, whose parents are from Co. Galway, was at Folkestone Beach for the launch, where a portrait of war poet Wilfrid Owen was unveiled.

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“There’s a quietness about it that will allow people to reflect on what this war means for us still,” said Boyle.

“We’re in very, very loud times with very, very loud people shouting.

“It’s wonderful to be able to take a moment to remember privately, in a public place, the extraordinary sacrifice of people who didn’t shout so loudly.”

The tide washing away the portraits will be a way to say goodbye to the servicemen and women who never returned, said Boyle.

Irish tributes

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Among the beaches taking part in the project was Port Bán in Dunree, Co. Donegal, where a portrait of 23-year-old Cork native John Buckley was unveiled.

Buckley died on January 25, 1917 while serving as a merchant seaman aboard the SS Laurentic, which sank off the Donegal coast after striking mines laid by a German U-Boat.

Meanwhile at Murlough Beach in Co. Down, the image of John McCance was created on the sand.

McCance, 21, who is believed to have died at Passchendaele, was reported missing on August 16, 1917.

There is no known grave for the Dundrum native.

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The portrait at Downhill Beach in Co. Derry was of Rachel Ferguson, who was part of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, one of the main providers of female nurses for the British Army.

She served at the 62nd General Hospital in Liguria, Italy but died there as a patient on June 26, 1918 after suffering bronchopneumonia.

Britain’s Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, whose maternal grandparents were from Ireland, wrote a poem titled The Wound in Time in as part of the event.

Irish actress Fiona Shaw recorded a reading of the poem for Armistice Day.

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