August 2014

Living Legacies and Donaghadee Historical Society Roadshow

Anthony Anderson using some of the equipment provided on the dayOn Friday 15th August the Living Legacies team conducted its first roadshow in collaboration with Donaghadee Historical Society. The event was held at the 1st Presbyterian Church Hall in Donaghadee (many thanks to the ministers for their kindness in providing a venue). The Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis ( provided an interactive stand, which included two high end flatbed scanners, associated computers, a high-resolution digital camera and two senior technical staff who were present to digitise and store materials. In addition to this, our newest member to the LL team, Fiona Byrne, our Historical Engagement Officer and a museums expert, was there on the day to provide advice on conserving artefacts.

The roadshow was part of a broader two week festival (Donaghadee Festival Fortnight) and Donaghadee Historical Society had advertised in advance, appealing to local people to bring along any artefacts which they had from the Great War. They had also brought along some of their own personal objects, giving a well-researched family history which we were able to digitise samples for them. We were delighted to see so many local people attend the event and bring along items which had been passed down through their families. 

Fiona Byrne providing advice on conservaing artefacts

Fiona was able to discuss the history of each item and provided expert advice on conserving medals, letters and photographs. The digitisation team scanned and photographed each item and are in the process of sending the owner a digital copy for their own use.

‌As this was our first roadshow, we were keen to explore the levels of community engagement with WW1 heritage and Donaghadee set an incredibly high standard. Each person we spoke to had taken steps to research their relative's role in the war and were keen to seek our help in digitising and thus preserving their private artefacts. This is one of our primary roles as a centre and we look forward to working alongside interested publics, communities and individuals who wish to preserve and protect their WW1 heritage.

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Launch of East Belfast and the Great War
Launch of East Belfast and the Great War at Stormont Buildings
Launch of East Belfast and the Great War at Stormont Buildings

On Wed 13th August the Living Legacies team were delighted to attend the launch of one of our partner projects, East Belfast and the Great War. Their bid for Heritage Lottery Funding was successful and they now begin the complex process of archival research and community roadshows. The launch was held at Stormont Buildings in East Belfast, with project coordinator Jason Burke opening the event by outlining the project's origins, aims and methodologies. He explained how his interest in the military history of the area began several years ago with an undergraduate dissertation at Queen's University Belfast. At that point, he realised that there was a gap in the research regarding the participation of UVF men in the Great War. Following another three years of work, Jason and his team of five volunteers are now ready to seek public engagement and community co-research in building a broad and accurate local history of East Belfast's war effort.

They plan to model their methodology on Living Legacies member Professor Richard Grayson's research which culminated in his 2010 book, Belfast Boys: How Unionists and Nationalists Fought and Died Together in the First World War. Grayson pioneered "military history from the street", which began with a strictly defined geographical area and researched the military participation of the inhabitants of each street. Jason et al undertake a similar endeavour and hope to produce an online archive which will be freely accessible to all, detailing East Belfast's WW1 history. The team are appealing to members of the public to contact them and share any artefacts which they may have; photographs, medals, letters etc. Their email address

A representative from the Heritage Lottery Fund was present and, after wishing the project every success, he appealed to the audience to consider their own local history and to contact HLF with any potential projects which might be funded. Information on eligibility and the application process is available here:

We at Living Legacies are also happy to support HLF bids and provide advice and expertise on applications. Any enquiries can be directed via the website at Our email is

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Commemoration of the Centenary of the Outbreak of the First World War

Front cover of the Commemoration of the Centenary of the Outbreak of the First World War bookletWe attended the the 100th Anniversary of the outbreak of World War One at St Anne's Cathedral. This was a period of rememberance of thise who served and those who gave their lives in that was and other conflicts, home and overseas, and remembering the sacrifices and loss suffeerd by thise who remained at home. Many reminders of the First World War and other conflicts can be found within the Cathedral walls.

St Anne's Cathedral 01  St Anne's Cathedral 02

One such memorial is to 2nd Lieutenant Edmund De Wind VC. A stone at the West entrance records his death on 21st March 1918 at St Quentin while serving with the 15th Bn Royal Irish Rifles. The citation for his Victoria Cross reads

In Flanders Fields Poem‌"On 21 March 1918, at the Racecourse Redoubt, near Groagie, France, for seven hours Second Lieutenant De Wind held this important post and though twice wounded and practically single-handed, he maintained his position until another section could be sent to his help. On two occasions, with two NCOs only, he got out on top under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire and cleared the enemy out of the trench, killing many of them. He continued to repel attack after attack until he was mortally wounded and collapsed."

Messines Ridge 'One Nation Two Divisions' 
photo by Mike Sheil, Fields of Battle - Lands of Peace Collection

Messines Ridge 'One Nation Two Divisions' 
photo by Mike Sheil, Fields of Battle - Lands of Peace Collection

The 36th Ulster Division and 16th Irish Division fought side by side at Messines and Wytschaete in 1917. It was here in June 1917 that Major Willie Redmond MP, the brother of Irish nationalist leader John Redmond, was killed. He fell on the battlefield not five miles from where Captain Arthur O'Neil MP was killed in November 1914. His son Terence O'Neil went on to become Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

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Performing Arts activities report August – December

2014-12-31 # Performing Arts activities report August – December # 001SinceThe Medal in the Drawerwas successfully staged at the Brian Friel Centre, Queen's University Belfast, the play's cast and Creative Team have been busy preparing and delivering a community outreach programme which uses the original script as stimulus material for groups of young people to stage their own theatrical responses to the centenary of the First World War

Photo 1 :- Jumping Boys - Rehearsing Medal in the Drawer

In September 2014, seven third-year students of Drama Studies at Queen's University, all leading players in the original production, trained with a professional drama-workshop facilitator. The object of the exercise was to equip these students with the skills which would enable them to go into schools and community groups to help lead young people in the devising of their own drama productions.

Third-year Drama Studies student Stella Green, who played Lady Constance Fairfax Ross inThe Medal in the Drawer,comments on her experience of participating in the play and its accompanying out-reach activities to schools:

From the start I understood that ‘Medal in the Drawer’ was going to be more than an assessed piece of work for my university degree. The family connection which the author, Brenda Winter-Palmer, has with the piece, coupled with the cultural connection of its cast to the Belfast locality in which it is set, made sure we approached the text with sensitivity and emotion. The play and the cast have not only made me explore a point in history which I have always found interesting but it has also given me a connection to characters which I have never felt before … they’ve become people who I know well. And this is the reason why I find using the characters from ‘Medal in the Drawer’ as a focus for drama work with young people such a natural development. We all want to share these individuals that we have come to know with as many people as possible. It has been and I hope it will continue to be an eye-opening experience which I am lucky enough to share with many good friends that I have made along the way.

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Photo 2 : The Frontliners with Jonathan Evershed

Stella with fellow ‘Frontliners’, David Paulin, Brian Diamond, Lloyd Whiteside and Mathew Jeffrey. Also pictured is Jonathon Evershed, Creative Director of the Co-operation-Ireland Project ‘Entwined Histories’. This group of students, along with Rebekah Wallace and Pamela Bell, have been so inspired by the process that they have formed their own theatre-in-education company called ‘Frontline’.

Since the beginning of October the Frontliners have performed scenes from The Medal in the Drawer, engaged in question and answer sessions in role, conducted workshops, assisted in the devising of performances in schools, community venues, outdoor museums, museum galleries and even in a cinema as a prelude to the screening of the famous silent film of the Battle of the Somme.

Photo 3 : First person interpretation at the First World War Poster Exhibitions – National Museum Northern Ireland
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Entwined Histories : The Frontliners partner with Co-operation Ireland October/November 2014

This was a collaborative project with the cross-border agency ‘Co-operation Ireland’. It explored through creative and expressive means the role politicians played in encouraging young men to go to war in 1914. The Frontliners used a range of theatre/drama techniques as well as scenes fromThe Medal in the Drawerto enable groups involved to create their own mini-dramas on the First World War. This project culminated in a public performance involving eighty pupils and their student mentors on 6th November at the Ulster Museum, Belfast.

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Photo 4 : Matthy Jeffrey at the First World War Poster Exhibitions – National Museum Northern Ireland

Peter Sheridan OBE, Chief Executive, Co-operation Ireland said

"Co-operation Ireland highly values partnership working and we are delighted to have had the opportunity to extend our relationship with Queen's University in the past months. Liaising with Brenda Winter-Palmer through the Living Legacies programme, we have had the pleasure of training and working with five 3rd year Drama students. Working as part of our facilitation team, their contribution as mentors has very much enhanced the experience of the 80 teenagers involved. I've been impressed by their energy, enthusiasm and work ethic, encouraging and motivating the young people to express themselves and their ideas. Thank you to Brenda, Matty, David, Stella, Brian and Lloyd for all your efforts."

Photo 5 : David Paulin conducts a workshop with Co-operation Ireland
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‌Greg Toner, Head of History at Participating School Assumption Grammar School, Ballynahinch commented

"I cannot speak highly enough of the Drama students from Queen's University. In addition to their obvious talent as actors it was their cheerful demeanours and clear sense of purpose which quickly earned them the respect and admiration of pupils and teachers alike."

Project facilitator Jonathan Evershed described the benefit obtained by students:

Medal in the Drawer' captures so well the conflicted emotions and divided loyalties in Ireland during the First World War in a way that only drama can. The play's subtext is a profoundly personal politics of memory, and I am grateful to Brenda Winter- Palmer for allowing us to make use of her wonderful script over the course of the project. In their dual role as actors and facilitators, the play was brought to life and re-worked with great energy by Stella, Lloyd, David, Matty and Brian to allow the project participants to engage creatively and critically with this period and its legacy.

Photo 6 : The Frontliners perform at final presentation of Co-operation Ireland Project

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The Frontliners perform at the Ulster Museum

‘Westies’ at War Project.

This project is currently working with two schools on the Falls Road to uncover, dramatize and present stories from the Home Front in Nationalist West Belfast, particularly the role of women munitions workers in Mackies Foundry.

In addition to this, an event in the QFTs School Outreach Programme was enjoyed by school pupils.

Photo 7 : Students from belfast Hospital School with Frontliners

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The Frontliners have also been invited to perform scenes from Medal in the Drawer at the launch of a new exhibition on the history of The 6th Connaught Rangers, a British Amry regiment largely populated by nationalist men from the Falls Road in Belfast. Belfast's City Hall on the 19thNovember 2014.

Connaught Rangers

Photo 8 : Frontliners perform at Belfast City Hall

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Siobhan Deane from 6th Connaught Rangers Research Project sent some comments regarding the Frontline theatre company:

I just wanted to say a big thanks to you and the 4 actors (Brian, Lloyd, David and Matty) from 'Medal in the Drawer' in putting on the final scene at our exhibition launch at Belfast City Hall on 19th November last. This was a big day for us. It was the first time we think, that those men from nationalist areas of Belfast who fought in WW1 would be highlighted in City Hall and we wanted this to be as professional and informative as possible. Your play and the acting certainly achieved that. Whilst we knew that your play and the acting was first class, those attending the launch, including the Lord Mayor and Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, were unaware what was about to unfold and I think for them, it was engaging, original and even emotional. I think some in the audience expected a lecture but your play managed to convey what we intended to say in an original way. Instead of a slide show we were met by four young men (like the original soldiers themselves) in army uniform, with Belfast accents, who voiced the fears and feelings that the politics of WW1 encapsulated and who conveyed both the message we had hoped to convey whilst at the same time, embodying the young soldiers themselves. Attendees at our event could see these young men instead of imagining them. It almost seemed that the past was speaking to the future and that caught a lot of people. I found it very moving and I know others did too.

We look forward to working with you again.

Siobhan and the 6th Connaught Rangers Committee

Photo 9 : Brenda Winter-Palmer at Belfast City Hal
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The Home Front; Hidden Histories of the First World War

2015/01/20 # NMNI # August # 001The Home Front: Hidden Histories of the First World War began on Tuesday 5th August to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Visitors have been offered guided tours where they have learned fascinating facts about life at home during the war and how towns and villages across Ulster were transformed. Shop fronts displayed flags of the Allies and instead of corner shops stocking doll’s houses there were miniature hospitals. Visitors explore the village setting, the chemist, the bank, the post office, the schoolhouse, the worker’s cottage and other settings to discover how each of these sites was affected by the war.

2015/01/20 # NMNI # August # 002‌The tours also included stories about the role of the Temperance Hall as an alternative to the pub. As demand increased for bicycles, ‘B5’ brown leather boots and hats, there was more pressure placed on businesses such as the carpenter, shoemaker and bicycle repair shop. The guided tours tell the story of everyday life for Ulster people during the war; how coal was rationed, the increase in demand of Irish turf and the role picture houses played in both providing welcome relief from the harsh realities of war as well as portraying the grim realities and heroic efforts of the allies.

Every aspect of life from the sweet shop to the farm was affected by the war, the Ballycultra village setting at the Ulster Folk & Transport system provides the ideal setting for these tours to explore how everyday life was affected at home during war time. Home Front information panels have also been produced and are displayed in each exhibit buildings throughout the museum.

The tours were open to the general visitor three times a day everyday throughout August. They are still available on demand and there have been a number of groups booked onto them. Feedback has showed that they have provided an excellent insight into life at home in rural Ulster during war time and that visitors have discovered new insights they did not know before.


Please click the poster for further details

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The Road to War lecture series

2015/01/20 # NMNI # September 2014 # 001A joint lecture series exploring the impact and legacy of the First World War was hosted at the Ulster Museum and PRONI and facilitated by Living Legacies. The lectures took place in August to October exploring various elements that led to war.

The first lecture was held in the Ulster Museum on 7th August ‘The Outbreak of the First World War’ by Dr William Mulligan, author of The origins of the First World War (Cambridge, 2010).

The second lecture, also at the Ulster Museum, was held on 25th September by Dr Catriona Pennell. Dr Pennell’s lecture ‘Ireland’s Entry into War, 1914: Acceptance or Refusal?’ explored Ireland at the outbreak of war and reactions to the European crisis.

The following two lectures were held at PRONI. 9th October, ‘Militarism in Ireland, 1912-18’ by Professor David Fitzpatrick and on 23rd October, ‘If the nation is to be saved women must help in the saving’ by Dr Senia Paseta. 2015/01/20 # NMNI # September 2014 # 002

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