A unique commemoration will take place at Eden Park, Aukland tomorrow to mark 100 years since the death of legendary All Blacks captain and Donegal man Dave Gallaher.
Gallaher, born in Ramelton, emigrated with his parents to New Zealand in 1898. He went on to become the first All Blacks captain.
Gallaher perished in the Battle of Broodseinde on 4 October 1917. Wednesday
Tomorrow, Gallaher and the 491 other New Zealand soldiers killed in that battle will be honoured at Eden Park, where a bronze statue of Gallaher stands.
“We are proud to host this special and emotional ‘Mates on the Field’ event to pay tribute to those lost at Broodseinde, including Gallaher, who led the 1905 Originals, captained Auckland and was a stalwart of the Ponsonby club,” Eden Park CEO Guy Ngata says.
“The tribute to the fallen soldiers will include a giant poppy represented on Eden Park’s hallowed playing surface and 492 personalised white crosses erected on the field to honour each of the Kiwis killed at Broodseinde. A further 12 crosses will honour the other All Blacks who lost their lives in WWI.
“We will be offering free stadium tours every hour on the hour from 9am, incorporating the on-field memorial, and the public will also be able to stay for a Dusk Ceremony, including the laying of wreaths and the playing of The Last Post, from 6.30pm.”
The ceremony will also feature a Warbirds fly past, the New Zealand Navy Band and All Blacks legend Wayne Shelford leading a haka by the Defence Blacks and several of Auckland school First XVs.
In addition to the on-field display, a moving tribute will see the names of 492 New Zealand soldiers lost at Broodseinde displayed throughout the day on stadium signage. Commemorative footage will screen on the two video scoreboards at either end of the field. A wreath will also be laid in front of the Dave Gallaher sculpture at the stadium’s north entrance.
Limited edition ‘Dave Gallaher memorial’ pins will be sold on the day to raise funds for the Fields of Remembrance Trust.
Gallaher led the 1905 Originals on their celebrated tour of Britain, France and North America.
On a never to be forgotten evening on November 9th 2005 in Donegal, the All Blacks came back to the birthplace of Gallaher in his native Ramelton. The occasion was to commemorate the centenary of the historic 1905-06 Originals’ tour, which was captained by Gallaher.
The 2005 touring party officially named Letterkenny RFC’s home ground the Dave Gallaher Memorial Park.
He had previously served in the South African War and was 40 when WWI broke out in 1914, but when a younger brother was killed in action, he lowered his age to enlist. In 1917 he went to Europe as a sergeant in the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment, New Zealand Division. In the attack on ‘sGravenstafel Spur, Gallaher was shot. He died later that day, aged almost 44.
Gallaher lies in Flanders Fields at Nine Elms British Cemetery, buried with his mates under the silver fern.
His name lives on in the Gallaher Shield, awarded to the winner of Auckland’s premier club rugby competition since 1922.Tags: