Creative Centenaries Resources Fair

Do you have a role to play in the Decade of Anniversaries? This Creative Centenaries Resources Fair will open up opportunities for those planning and organising events that explore and share our history and heritage. The day-long, free conference at Titanic Belfast on 5th March will include: • keynote addressunnamed • exhibition stalls • digital resources • project presentations • workshops • funding information • artistic expressions • networking and partnership opportunities This event is aimed at community and heritage groups, councils and good relations officers, arts and community organisations and others who are organising events across Ireland in the coming years.  Delegates will have the chance to hear from a range of projects and exhibitions, take part in engaging workshops, learn about funding opportunities and establish connections and partnerships with others. When registering for the event, delegates will have the opportunity to select which workshops they would like to attend, including: What is Commemoration?, Ethical and Shared Remembering or Creative Responses. What is Commemoration?: This panel based workshop will explore issues such as the purpose you hope to achieve and the long term legacies attached to commemorative events within the Decade of Anniversaries and how this may impact on planning. Ethical and Shared Remembering: This workshop will examine approaches to commemoration including inclusive and ethical remembering and how interpretations of history shape modern society. Creative Responses: This workshop will look at artistic and creative approaches to commemorating and remembering events with the Decade of Anniversaries including theatre, poetry, music and more.

Click here to book your place

 

Institute of Irish Studies Seminar Series

Please find below the Institute of Irish Studies Seminar Series Spring term listings which features History Hub Ulster member Dr Gareth Mulvenna.  On 16 March, Dr Mulvenna will present ‘‘Our boys of tomorrow’ – Tartan gangs and Loyalist paramilitarism in early 1970s Belfast'.  These events will take place in Room 01.004 - Seminar Room Institute of Irish Studies, 6-8 Fitzwilliam Street Mondays from 1-2pm* jpg

After Dresden: A play by Philip Orr

On After DresdenShrove Tuesday 1945, Allied planes drop bombs on Dresden, killing thousands of people, most of them believed to be civilians and refugees. An Irish prisoner of war bears witness to the horror of the bombing and, in post-war years, it prompts him towards an ethic of tolerance and reconciliation. In the 1990s, a young woman whose life has been damaged by the local conflict seeks answers to her questions about the peace process and its ethos of hope, trust and mutual forgiveness. That young woman and that former prisoner of war meet at a reconciliation centre on the Irish coastline and exchange their heart-breaking stories. What will be the outcome? Belvoir Players from 30 April - 2 May 2015 Click here to book  

Personal account of HMS Maidstone escape

Personal account of Republican internees escape from HMS Maidstone on 17 Jan 1972 History Hub Ulster recently interviewed Tom, a former Royal Navy Stoker from Bangor, who served on HMS Hartland Point in the early 1970s.  Here’s his account:
HMS Hartland Point

HMS Hartland Point

 “The Hartland Point was brought to Belfast and originally moored ahead of the Maidstone.  Before Harland Point’s arrival, prisoners, sailors and prison officers were all accommodated on the Maidstone which was not ideal.  In 1972 the decision was taken to move Hartland Point around to the stern of Maidstone.  Maidstone was to have her stern cut open, and Hartland Point her bow, to enable a gangway to be connected between the two.  This would afford the prison officers quick access on to the Maidstone when required.” “As an electrical engineer, my duties were mainly maintenance.  Prisoners bunk lights would often fail.  When they reported it, it was my job to fix it.  I would be escorted by a prison officer onto the Maidstone and in to the prisoners’ accommodation.  It was quite scary at times!” Tom was serving on board Hartland Point on 17th January 1972 when seven Republican prisoners escaped: “Hartland Point had mooring cables connected from her stern to the bows of Maidstone.  When she was moved, the cables on Maidstone’s bows were left dangling.  Prisoners spotted the cables dangling outside the scuttles (portholes) and saw the opportunity to escape.  During the night, they managed to pull the ropes in to the scuttles and climb out on to them.  They used the ropes to swing themselves out to a point where they could get through the barbed wire, and descended into the icy cold water to make their escape.” These men were referred to as ‘The Magnificent Seven’.  Their side of the story can be found at http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/16314 (copied below):
HMS Maidstone in Belfast

HMS Maidstone in Belfast

The Magnificent Seven BY ARAN FOLEY This week 35 years ago, on 17 January 1972, seven republican internees escaped from the British prison ship, HMS Maidstone, moored at the coal wharf in Belfast docks, and swam to freedom. They achieved fame in news headlines across the world as ‘The Magnificent Seven’. Originally a Royal Navy submarine depot ship, the Maidstone was used as an emergency billet for British troops. After the introduction of internment, though, of the original 226 people detained, 122 were held in the Maidstone in the most cramped and inhumane of conditions where opportunities for even the most basic of needs such as exercise were virtually non-existent. Gerry Adams was held there for a brief time. Some of the internees had been planning an escape and the transfer of 50 internees to the new internment camp at Magilligan the day before meant they had to urgently push forward their plan. The men — Jim Bryson, Tommy Tolan, Thomas Kane, Martin Taylor, Tommy Gorman, Peter Rodgers and Seán Convery — had noticed a seal swimming through the ring of barbed wire which surrounded the ship. The prisoners reasoned that the gap was also sufficient to allow a human through. They had also been tossing tin cans overboard to monitor the movements of the tide. On the night of 16 January, the conditions were judged right and the escape bid was ready to go. The nervous tension was exacerbated by a late head-count of internees by guards, causing an unexpected delay of 20 minutes which was to almost scupper the escape’s success. The head-count over, the escape went ahead behind schedule. In a scene reminiscent of a Second World War POW movie, the men camouflaged themselves with boot polish and covered themselves in butter to insulate themselves from the cold waters they would have to swim through if they were to make it to freedom. Cutting through a steel bar in a porthole, they clambered down the ship’s steel cable. It took them 20 minutes to swim through the bitingly cold water. Several of the men who couldn’t swim had to be helped by their comrades. Despite this, and serious injuries inflicted by the barbed wire, all seven men made it ashore otherwise unscathed. The problem was that they had landed 500 yards down from the agreed rendezvous point with units of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade, waiting to take them to safe houses. By the time the escapees had made it to the original meeting point, their comrades had left, believing that the non-appearance of the Maidstone men meant that the escape had been aborted. This forced the escapees, cold and dripping wet, to improvise. They commandeered a bus at Queens Road Terminus and drove across the city themselves. Peter Rodgers (clad only in his underpants!) approached a bus driver and asked him for a loan of his overcoat, explaining to the somewhat startled driver, and in something approaching the truth, that he had fallen in to the water. The driver handed over his coat and then set off on his route. On his return at 6.30pm he left the bus. The seven men clambered aboard. Rodgers, who had been a bus driver himself, took the wheel and off they sped. Reaction from the security men at the main gate was minimal, which is probably explainable by the fact that it was not every day they were confronted by the spectacle of a bus full of semi-naked men speeding out the gates. During the journey they were spotted by a British Army patrol but upon entering the staunchly republican area of the Markets the patrol refused to follow them any further for fear of an ambush. Before British troops could surround the area, the men had been spirited away to different parts of Belfast and the British search was in vain. Hours later, sitting in a drinking club, the escapees were much amused – as indeed were most of the country – by the appearance of one Colonel Tony Budd of the Royal Horse Artillery appearing on the TV news to assure them that all was in order. But everything wasn’t in order – the Magnificent Seven were out. The Magnificent Seven escaped from the British prison ship, HMS Maidstone 35 years ago.

WW1 and You: Belfast Central Library 22nd January 2015

WW1 and You, Objects and Memories Would you like to play a role in preserving WW1 historical facts for future generations? Join Living Legacies 1914-1918 and Libraries NI at Heritage Department, 2nd floor, Belfast Central Library on Thursday 22 January. Bring your WW1 objects and artefacts (photographs, letters, diaries etc.) to the Heritage Department where there will be scanning and recording of memorabilia and stories throughout the afternoon from 12.30 - 4.30pm. Call 02890509150 for details. Also talks by Keith Lilley, Dr Brenda Winter Palmer, Jason Burke, Siobhan Brennan-Deane, Professor Elizabeth Crooke and Dr Johanne Devlin Trew.   10835080_568857119915745_195932378160847794_o  

WW1 Centenary – The sinking of HMS Viknor off Tory Island

HMS ViknorHMS Viknor – an armed merchantman, struck a mine off Tory Island on 13 January 1915. War graves headstones can be found on Rathlin and in the churchyards of Bonamargy and Ballintoy on the mainland. HMS Viknor was a 5386 ton armed merchant cruiser of the 10th Cruiser Squadron, originally a Blue Star Line vessel called the 'Viking'. She was requisitioned and renamed by the Royal Navy. She was under the Command of Commander E O Ballantyne and had a crew compliment of 22 officers and 273 ratings - these were made up of Royal Navy Reserves, 25 of whom came from the Newfoundland Division of the Royal Navy Reserves. On January 13th, 1915 while on active patrol duty in heavy seas off Tory Island she struck a German mine and sank with the loss of all hands. In Bonamargie Friary you will find the grave of Private. J. Griffin, PO 7084, RMLI. In Ballintoy Churchyard the grave of E.R. Hewett, RN J/27300, 1st Class Boy can be found. The following HMS Viknor crewmen are also buried in Northern Ireland: Petty Officer J R Bowering and Greaser L Ogle are buried in Larne New Cemetery and Petty Officer (2nd Class) J J Walton is buried in St Thomas Church of Ireland Graveyard on Rathlin Island. There is a family memorial to Petty Officer (1st Class) J A Blockley in Bangor Cemetery and there are also CWGC Headstones for unknown sailors in St Thomas Church of Ireland Graveyard on Rathlin Island, Bonamargy Cemetery and Larne New Cemetery. For more information on HMS Viknor visit: http://www.causewaycoastalroute.com/war-graves.html Research by History Hub Ulster members Mark McCrea and Nigel Henderson.