An exhibition weekend remembering those who died in the First World War from the North Fermanagh Pettigo area will take place next weekend at Ardess Parish Centre.

Running from Friday November 9 to Sunday November 11 the exhibition will finish with an interdenominational service on Sunday night in Ardess Parish Church.

When organisers started their research they envisaged perhaps finding 30 or 40 men who had served in what has become known as the great war but they have been astonished to find 152 men from the region who died as a result of the conflict, with that number expected to rise as research continues.

“It has been incredible really. And the stories that have come to light, from all sides of the community have been amazing really,” explained David Keys, who is one of the organisers of the exhibition.

One of those stories revolves around Private James Monaghan who served with the 7th Royal Inniskilling fusiliers in the 16 Irish division. Monaghan, a catholic, lived at Brookhill Pettigo. He worked on the family farm before enlisting and died after sustaining wounds at the battle of Ginchy on the Somme on September 16 1916.

The story is particularly poignant as one of items exhibited during the exhibition will be a prayer book belonging to Mr Monaghan. “A simple Prayer Book for Soilders” is the title of the book and it was issued by the Catholic Truth Society. The prayer book, as our picture shows, has a bullet hole in it. Likely to have been in the breast pocket of Mr Monaghan when he was shot the book was sent home to his family. Staning of Mr Monaghan’s blood can still be seen on the back of the book. He is buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France.

Another story that is told at the exhibition involves Private Robert McClintock, from Main Street kesh, who served in the Ulster Division. There is no know grave for Mr McClintock who was also killed at the Somme. Mr McClintock, who was a protestant, had either sent home or brought home during a period of leave a Christmas Box that he had received from the British Royal family.

Soilders had received these boxes as a present and they contained a combination of tobacco, sweets, chocolate and cigarettes and a small Christmas Card.

The family also received a death plaque for Mr McClintock which it displayed alongside the Christmas Box in the family home. Mr McClintock died on the first of July 1916, 18 months after receiving his gift from the British Royal Family.

A third story to be unearthed by the organisers is that of an Irvinestown father and son, both named Thomas McGirr. Thomas McGirr junior was killed in 1915 aged 20 while his father, who served in the war despite being 57 when it commenced, died in 1921 of wounds received at war.

The exhibition will open on Friday night with the official address given by Lieutenant Commander Peter Archdale. This will be followed by a presentation from award winning journalist Maurice Neill who will speak on the soldier Willie McBride featured in the ballad ‘The Green Fields of France’ and his connections with Irvinestown.

On Saturday the exhibition will open at 10am and at 3pm Major Alan McFarland will give a talk on the Irish divisions involvement in the war.

On Sunday the exhibition opens again at 3pm with the interdenominational service concluding the weekend.