In 1916 a decision was made by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland to cancel the annual 12th July celebrations.
Sir Crawford McCullagh instead requested that all businesses be suspended for the duration of 5 minutes from noon till 12.05pm. He asked that street traffic be at a complete standstill for 5 minutes, so that the City’s tribute to the heroes of the Ulster Division would thus be impressive and universal.
Trains stopped in their tracks, the city’s trams came to a halt and the Police Courts were adjourned. As men and women on factory floors, in hospitals, in shops and in homes all over Ulster bowed their heads in respect of the 36th Ulster Division who had lost their lives at the Battle of the Somme.
Silence echoed through the streets of Belfast as the city came to a complete standstill. This silence was the precursor of the 2 minute silence which is now recognized world wide.
It can be argued that Sir Crawford McCullagh was the first recorded person to publicly call for a period of silence to honour those who have fallen in battle.
We will remember them on the anniversary of the Armistice when we will again bow our heads on 11th November.
First and Second Battalions West Belfast Regiment Ulster Volunteer Force were presented with King’s colours and Regimental standards, Saturday 2nd May 1914, on the grounds of Glencairn, the beautiful residence of Mr. James Cunningham.