In our latest Blog Post, Claire Ablett from National Museums of Northern Ireland, reflects on the Lecture on “Spanish Flu: A Global Pandemic”, held in partnership with Living Legacies – One of the Arts & Humanities Research Councils funded World War One Engagement Centres.
As the First World War was drawing to a close and the prospect of peace began to materialise, a deadly virus emerged. This influenza strain, commonly known as the Spanish Flu, resulted in the deaths of between 20 and 50 million people, a higher death toll than that of the First World War. The Spanish Flu conference aimed to highlight the largely forgotten history of this global pandemic with particular focus on how the disease affected people in Ireland and the medical advancements that were made during this period.
Dr Islam Issa, curator of the exhibition and lecturer in English at Birmingham City University, recalled how e-mails and letters from descendants of Muslim soldiers were full of gratitude, often with the qualification that ‘we didn’t think anyone cared’.
In this latest Blog Post, Dr Johanne Devlin Trew, from Ulster University & the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Funded Living Legacies World War One Engagement Centre, talks all things ‘Republican Crafts’.
On Wednesday March 14, 2018, a community conference and exhibition entitled Irish Republican Prison Crafts: Making Memory and Legacy was held at Belfast’s historical Crumlin Road Gaol. It showcased the Heritage Lottery funded project of Coiste na nIarchimí [Republican ex-prisoners organisation], supported by Living Legacies, Ulster University and The Open University. The goal of the project was to create a virtual archive of conflict-related Republican prison crafts that are in the possession of prisoner families and to capture the stories surrounding these objects of memory. The project took as a model the virtual archive developed by Living Legacies to record WW1 material sourced from the general public.
On 10 February, Kurt Taroff and Michelle Young from the Arts & Humanities Research Council-funded “Living Legacies 1914-18” engagement centre, led a full-day workshop in the Brian Friel Theatre at Queen’s University Belfast.
A number of events this June in Belfast will be encouraging the public to engage with their local WW1 history. The events are part of the nationwide Connected Communities Festival.
West Belfast WW1 Soldiers – Living Legacies Centre a digital walking tour
The walking tour will take place in and around the Falls Road, West Belfast, an area rich in contested cultural heritage and with strong community interest in WW1. This venue has been chosen given its immediate proximity to the areas of interest on the walking tour. The tour is built around original data gathered by Prof. Richard Grayson on the origins of the local men that served in the FWW.
This event is open to the public and is a cross-community event, we are hoping to encourage members of the Nationalist Community to participate and engage with their WW1 heritage.
20th June 2015, An Chulturlann, West Belfast, BT12 6AH
National Museum Northern Ireland – First World War tour and workshop at the Ulster Museum
This venue has been chosen given its unique collection of WW1 materials, staff expertise and knowledge. In addition NMNI is a partner of the Living Legacies Engagement Centre. The event will feature a guided tour of the Home Rule to Partition section of the Modern History Gallery and will cover events from 1912-1922. There will then be a break for refreshments and this will be followed by an interactive handling workshop involving FWW artefacts. The main benefit to the attendee is an improved understanding of the past, including a broader knowledge of the nuances and complexities of the war.
23rd June 2015, Ulster Museum, South Belfast, BT9 5AB
This event involves both the launch of a new FWW mural and a piece of interactive drama/performance from ‘Medal in the Draw’ by Dr. Brenda Winter-Palmer – LL, QUB. The event will take place in Tigers Bay, North Belfast on the 25th June, provisionally held. Tiger’s Bay is traditionally a strongly loyalist area of Belfast with a high degree of deprivation and strong community interest. The mural reflects a range of perspectives on the war, including women’s role on the Home Front, shipyard strikes and soldiers employed to make crosses to mark the graves of the men who died. The plays script is used as a stimulus for the audience’s questions and the actors then engage with the audience in character. The venue was dictated by the mural location, which is of itself the product of one year’s community research. The event is open to the public and is a cross-community event. The event will be publicised through all partners (see links).
Living Legacies 1914-18, one of the AHRC’s World War One Engagement Centres, gives an account of their recent visit to the Titanic Buildings in Belfast attended by academics, practitioners, local history groups and arts professionals.
On Thursday 5th March, Living Legacies visited Titanic Buildings, Belfast, for the first large-scale, multi-stakeholder event this year. Kindly supported by the Nerve Centre, Derry/Londonderry, the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Heritage Lottery Fund and Community Relations Council. The venue, the impressive Titanic Suite, was in-keeping with the scale of the event and provided an excellent backdrop to the day’s proceedings.
There were over 30 stalls on display, covering multiple angles and approaches to the war. Our colleagues from Heritage Lottery were present to provide advice and guidance to the many interested attendees. Community Relations Council chair, Peter Osborne, launched the fair by welcoming the assembled groups and audience members and encouraging all those present to engage with each other and discuss potential collaborations.
Following this, historian Dr. Eamon Phoenix gave an insightful lecture on the hidden history of nationalist involvement in the Great War, which is now being drawn out by excellent research projects, such as 6th Connaught Rangers.
The fair was attended by a combination of academics, practitioners, local history groups and arts professionals. Throughout the day, visitors and exhibitors exchanged knowledge and discussed a number of avenues for cooperative work. Whilst the fair was going on, a number of workshops took place in the conference rooms adjacent to the Titanic Suite. These dealt with ‘Ethical and Shared Remembering’, ‘What is Commemoration?’ and ‘Creative Responses’.
The Living Legacies team received a number of enquiries about supporting and guiding community-led research and we look forward to building upon these fruitful conversations. The Creative Centenaries Resources fair demonstrated the important and varied work which is going on in the region, to critically commemorate and engage with the legacy of WW1.
Written by Sophie Long, Queen’s University Belfast on behalf of Living Legacies 1914-18.
The Living Legacies 1914-1918 World War One Engagement Centre launched this week in Belfast. One of five UK-wide centres funded by the AHRC to connect academic and public histories of the First World War, the centre is a collaboration between Queen’s University Belfast, University of Ulster and National Museums Northern Ireland.
At the launch event both Vice Chancellors warmly welcomed the initiative and the collaboration, as did the NMNI’s Director Tim Cooke, with Professor Richard Grayson of Goldsmiths, University of London, giving a lecture in which he drew on his own family history to explore aspects of the history of the First World War as it impacted on Ireland.
But it was the excerpt of the play ‘The Medal in the Drawer’ by Brenda Winter-Palmer that took centre stage at the University of Ulster venue on Monday evening. Performed by second-year Creative Arts students at Queen’s University, the play charts the war-journeys of four volunteers who join up to fight with the 36th Ulster Division and the Connaught Rangers. Tensions on the streets of Belfast are never far from the minds of the protagonists as they prepare for war, questioning each other and themselves about their motivations for joining the war effort. At the end of the excerpt we saw, the spirit of death arrives to touch each of them…