AS the most westerly location in the UK, Enniskillen is joining communities around the country in commemorating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. 

The 80th Anniversary provides an opportunity to remember the selfless sacrifice and courage of all those involved in D-Day and beyond, including the many who gave so much to secure the freedoms we all enjoy today.

Co. Fermanagh was a training base for D-Day and thousands of US Soldiers, mostly young men, were based here before D-Day. Over 20 US and RAF bases were located in Fermanagh during the Second World War including Castle Archdale, Killadeas, St. Angelo, Crom Castle, Ely Lodge and Celtic Park. 

Approximately a quarter of Fermanagh’s population was American military personnel towards the end of the Second World War and such was the strategic importance of Fermanagh that both General Patton and General Eisenhower visited Enniskillen in early 1944 to ensure that their soldiers were ready and prepared for D-Day.

A special community service to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day will take place in St. Macartin's Cathedral on Thursday, June 6 at 8pm and an invitation is extended to everyone. 

This service will also celebrate the 75th anniversary of the local Fermanagh Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA).

 The service will particularly remember the service and sacrifice of military personnel as well as the thousands of US soldiers who trained in Fermanagh in preparation for the Normandy Landings. 

At the service, the Fermanagh Branch RAFA are dedicating new cords for their standard which will signify their 75th anniversary. These cords have been donated by the Eames family in memory of Bill Eames, a former President of the branch. 

Before joining the Royal Air Force, Bill attended Enniskillen Model School, Portora Royal School and St. Macartin's Cathedral and indeed his name is proudly recorded on the Cathedral's Second World War memorial.  On D-Day Flight Lieutenant Eames, from Enniskillen, piloted a plane towing a glider into Normandy.

Following the service there will be a Beacon lighting ceremony in the grounds of St. Macartin's performed by Viscount Brookeborough, Lord Lieutenant for Co Fermanagh.  

Fermanagh & Omagh District Council will illuminate Enniskillen Castle and the Strule Centre in Omagh Blue on Thursday, June 6 to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of D-Day.

Meanwhile, D-Day celebrations will also take place at Jones Memorial Primary School, Enniskillen on Thursday, June 6. 

The event from 10am to 12 noon will feature The Regimental Pipes and Drums of The Royal Dragon Guards, 'The Kindness Postbox', and the school Samba and Ukulele Band. Pupils and staff will also be dressing up!

A Drum Head Service with the Royal Dragoon Guards will take place at St. Michael's Church, Trory on Saturday, June 8 at 10am, and everyone is welcome. 

Opening at 11am on Saturday, June 8, Enniskillen Airport, formerly RAF St Angelo during Second World War will host one of the largest free community commemorations in Northern Ireland to mark D-Day 80 with something for all the family including vehicles, regimental bands, military village and emergency services display.  

Join the ‘Big Lunch’ and bring along your picnic and meet volunteers from a range of health and wellbeing charities as part of the ‘Big Help Out’. 

The Ulster Aviation Society's replica ‘Spitfire’ will be in situ, as well as a massed Co. Fermanagh Pipe Band and a variety of live music throughout the day. 

The Regimental Pipes & Drums of The Royal Dragoon Guards and the Band, Bugles, Pipes & Drums of The Royal Irish Regiment, will perform a Beating Retreat at 4pm. 

With many more free activities for all the family, including climbing wall, face painting and The Erne Hyland Dancers, it is a community event for all.