Coláiste na nGael - Britain's Irish Language Network - -

Irish Language Trip to the First World War Battles, April 2018

Irish speakers in Britain are interested in organising an event that marks the end of the First World War in a way appropriate to our culture and traditions.

It is proposed that we organize an Irish language tour of the battlesfields in 2018. We are asking people to express their interest in 2017, so that we can gauge the likely size of the gathering. The proposed schedule:


9 am Depart London by coach, and take the Channel Ferry, arriving in Calais about 1.15 pm (local time).

2.30 pm Visit the round tower at the Irish Peace Park near Ypres.

3.45 pm Visit the Munster War Memorial beside Ypres Cathedral.

4.15 pm Check-in at a hotel in Ypres, then an evening meal.

8 pm Witness the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate, Ypres.

29/04/18 (TBC)

10 am After breakfast, we will visit the Passchendaele Museum. This museum has a lot of land, plus woods and a lake. You will be able to see battlefield trenches in the museum's grounds.

11.45 am Visit Langemark Memorial. In 1914, Irish soldiers delivered a crushing blow to the German army. After the Easter Rising in 1916, the heroism of the Irish soldiers was written out of the history books. Adolf Hitler was one of the young soldiers who fought at Langemark. The Langemark Memorial was the first place Hitler wanted to visit when he invaded Western Europe in 1940.

12.45 pm We will visit the Francis Ledwidge memorial. Ledwidge was a Gaelic League activist and a fine poet. His proposal of marriage was rejected because he was a lowly farm labourer. Distraught, he joined the British Army, and was killed near Langemark in 1917.

29/04/18 (TBC)

2.15 pm A short stop at the friendly seaside town of De Panne. The cafés are nice, and there is a large sandy beach. We will then drive 30 km to the Channel Tunnel. We will arrive back in London about 7.30 pm.

Our itinerary

All the proposed Irish war sites are within 12 km of Ypres. Ypres is a lively Mediaeval town, and very pretty. Ypres is only about one hour from Calais. Journey times will be short, and we have arranged an itinerary which is varied, interesting and not too tiring.

Travel from London

We are likely to have TWO pick-up points in London. One is likely to be at the Camden Irish Centre. The other is likely to be in the Lewisham area.


This trip will be arranged at cost price. Hiring a coach and driver for two days, plus travel by the Channel Tunnel (or by ferry) is likely to cost about £1,300. We will also then need to add the cost of a hotel.

If we assume fifteen people, the total cost is likely to be about £180. If we have twenty people, the price is likely to be about £160.

The Irish Language

We propose to write a booklet for our tour in Irish. Talks will also be in Irish.

How to reserve a place

We would like you to sign up ASAP at This will not be a binding commitment. Once we have an idea of numbers, we will calculate the cost. At that point, people will be invited to pay a deposit for the trip. This is a 'not-for-profit' trip - we will keep the price as competitive as we can.

What the First World War means to us

Irish speakers may feel ambivalent about the First World War. Even so, many of us had relatives who fought. An Irish language trip to places of Irish interest might allw us to think about the 1918 centenary in a way that is consistent with our language and identity.


Christy Evans;