Irish Volunteers Centenary Project Launch

The Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive, Armagh, would like to invite you to the launch of the ‘Irish Volunteers Centenary Project’, Wednesday, 22 April, at 7.00 p.m.

This project is based on the interviews that the late Fr Louis O Kane carried out in the late 1960s and early 1970s with many Ulster men and women, in relation to their memories of the 1913-23 Irish revolutionary period, and the War of Independence in particular. These interviews have been available to researchers for some years already, but the fragile state of many of the old reel-to-reel tapes made them difficult to access. Within the last couple of years, the recordings have been transferred to digital format and thus preserved for the future.

The ‘Irish Volunteers Centenary Project’ to be launched next week will raise public awareness of this important and in many respects unparalleled collection of historical material concerning a pivotal period in northern Irish history. Alongside the interviews are numerous documents, photographs and other items of ephemera from the same era.

The launch of the project will provide a broad outline of the events and activities to be undertaken during this two-year project, such as a conference in the autumn. A number of outreach talks will also be held in or around the parishes in which Fr O’Kane served as a priest in south Derry, south Armagh, south-east Tyrone and Co. Louth.

Whereas a few short clips from some interviews are proposed to be played at the launch event, the local outreach events will focus more on the individual personalities and their interviews. So if it does not suit you to attend the launch, you will still have the opportunity to attend some of the local events, of which we will notify you in due course.

The launch will begin at 7.00 p.m. sharp, next Wednesday, 22 April, in the Cardinal Ó Fiaich Library and Archive (beside St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral). Prof. Eunan O’Halpin of Trinity College Dublin will be our guest speaker, and light refreshments will be served at the end.

Anyone interested in the project is welcome to attend, but as places are strictly limited we request that you make contact in advance to notify us of your attendance. You may e-mail us at or, or call the library and archive at 028/048-37522981 or 07826-328065.


The U-boat Surrender

Join Derry City & Strabane District Council on Saturday 16 May to mark the 70th anniversary of the surrender of the U-boats in Lough Foyle in 1945.

· View displays, watch a short drama about the Second World War, meet costumed characters, have your photograph taken a 1940s photo booth and join in a range of activities at the Guildhall

· Visit the Tower Museum to see some of their collection and watch a series of short films with a special £1 admission to the Tower Museum on the 16th May

· Guided tours of Harbour House, former headquarters of the Londonderry Port & Harbour during the War

· History Ireland Hedge School – War and Peace in the North West during the Second world War in the Guildhall 3-5pm

· Event runs 10 – 5pm

For more details contact the Guildhall, Tel: 028 7137 6510 or email

Uboat 1

Uboat 2

Uboat 3

Whitehead Aerodrome

The first military air base in Ireland was established at Bentra, near Whitehead, in October 1915.  It was home to Royal Naval Air Service airships which patrolled the Irish Sea looking for German U-boats.

airshipThe station housed an airship shed made of steel and canvas measuring 150 feet long by 45 feet wide and 50 feet high.  Wooden huts provided accommodation for the pilots and engineers. At least four airships operated from the station at Bentra – SSZ11, SSZ12, SS20 and SS23. Various types of aircraft also landed at the station and it became known as Whitehead Aerodrome. Affectionately named “battlebags” by their crews and “blimps” by civilians, Royal Naval Air Service airships were a familiar sight around Britain’s shores during the war years 1914 – 1918.  At least 226 airships were built and operated by the Royal Navy during the First World War in a bid to beat the deadly German U-boats.

The primary task for the airships stationed at the Bentra was to protect the Larne-Stranraer ferry and guard incoming convoys in the North Channel from German submarines. When the prevailing wind permitted, the crew would scout from the air, looking for submarines on the surface or the wake of a periscope. Success depended on close cooperation between the naval airmen and the warships operating from Larne harbour.

Today the site can be found by following a walking trail at

Listen to BBC World War One at Home’s item on Bentra airship station

Research: Mark McCrea, Member History Hub Ulster

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*


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


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.




Ulster and the First World War Book Launch

big_live_link_jonathan_bardon_s_bookPRONI is pleased to invite you to a lunchtime lecture by renowned author and historian Jonathan Bardon OBE on Ulster and the First World War. This is to conincide with the launch of his new publication with the same title.
JONATHAN BARDON was born in 1941 and educated at Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University. He has lived in Belfast since 1963, teaching history. Bardon is best known for his critically acclaimed text, A History of Ulster.  The book examines, in detail, the cultural, social, economic, and political arenas of the province, beginning with the early settlements and progressing linearly to present-day Ulster.
He has also written numerous radio and television programmes on the subject of Northern Ireland. Most recently he was commissioned by BBC Radio to create a two hundred and forty-episode series entitled A Short History of Ireland.
WHEN: 3 December 2014, 1pm
HOW MUCH: Admission is FREE
Please contact PRONI to book your place at . T: 028 90534800

Shadows of the Great War: World War One on Film

battlesofcoronelTo mark the Centenary of World War One, QFT and Film Hub NI are presenting a programme of films, talks and events.

Exploring a wide range of themes, the Shadows of the Great War programme will give audiences the opportunity to experience a diverse range of archive, classic and contemporary films, all of which present and reflect on the Great War and its legacy.

The Centenary of World War One, and the huge interest in the historical narrative surrounding it, creates a timely occasion to consider the relationship between film and the Great War.  Despite being in its infancy, film played an important part in the war effort, recording and documenting the events of the conflict, relaying news to the home front and keeping people informed.  This exploration of how the events and legacy of the Great War have been depicted on film will be supported by a programme of talks by eminent First World War experts.

The Launch event will take place on Armistice Day, 11th November at 6.30pm at QFT with the Irish premiere of ‘The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands’. This new restoration from the British Film Institute National Archive is one of the finest films of the British silent era – a thrilling reconstruction of two decisive naval battles of 1914, recreated and filmed 13 years later, in peacetime. The film has been updated with a new score performed by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines.  Receiving its UK Premiere in London in October, the Guardian described it as ‘…the greatest British war film you’ve never heard of’.

A_Night_at_the_Cinema_in_1914_-_A_Film_Johnnie_pic_1-300x195Other highlights include: ‘A Night in the Cinema in 1914’. Cinema a century ago was a new, exciting and highly democratic form of entertainment. This special compilation from the BFI National Archive recreates the glorious miscellany of comedies, dramas, travelogues and newsreels which would have constituted a typical night out in 1914. A highly successful screening on the City Hall in August allowed audiences to enjoy this presentation on the big screen.  Showing at QFT, the film will be preceded with a talk from Ian Montgomery (PRONI) on 1914 in Ireland, placing the film in context for local audiences.

‘War Horse’, the 2011 film adapted from the popular children’s book by Michael Morpurgo,  is the story of a remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man named Albert.  Set during World War One and focusing on themes of friendship and adventure, this film is a simple introduction for children to the wider context of the War and the reality in which young people of the time lived. War Horse shows at the Ulster Museum on 6th December at 1.00pm War-Horse-movie-900x562

Documentary film ‘The Green Fields of France’ is a poetic documentary film about the Irishmen who died in World War One, with the voices of Frank McGuinness, John Banville and Peter Fallon as Irish poets Patrick MacGill, Francis Ledwidge and Thomas Kettle.  The film will be shown at the Ulster Museum on 22 November and at the Strand Arts Centre on 20 January.

After the Ulster Museum screening, Professor Richard Grayson, Goldsmith’s, University of London and author of the highly successful ‘Belfast Boys: How Unionists and Nationalists Fought and Died Together in the First World War’ will give  a talk about the role Irish troops played in the Great War.

The screening at the Strand will be followed by a talk from local historian Jason Burke on East Belfast and the Great War.

Gallipoli_photo_colourOther films in the programme include: the dazzling technicolor satire “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp”, “All Quiet on the Western Front” focusing on the gulf between the concept of war and the actuality, Richard Attenborough’s musical film “Oh! What a Lovely War”, French anti-war film “La Grande Illusion”, classic epic Lawrence of Arabia, “Joyeux Noel” the story of the 1914 Christmas truce on the Western Front, a love story set during the Italian campaign “A Farewell to Arms”Australian film “Gallipoli” which tells the story of two young Australian sprinters fighting on the Turkish Front and “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” an Irish film set after World War One which highlights the difficult situation in Ireland during the fight for Independence.

Full programme details are available at and tickets can be booked through each venue – QFT, Strand or Ulster Museum.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Inaugural Margaret McCoubrey Lecture

Margaret McCoubreyThe Inaugural Margaret McCoubrey Lecture




Dr Myrtle Hill

Recent research has helped to illuminate the dynamic engagement of women in the social and political history of Ireland; this illustrated lecture explores the life of activist Margaret McCoubrey and her crucial role in the Suffrage movement, Pacifism, the Co-operative movement and Labour politics in early 20th century Belfast

Thursday 6 November 2014 from 19.00 – 21.30

Venue: The Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts, Duncairn Avenue, Belfast

Hosted by The Cross-Currents in British and Irish Working-Class Life Research Group at Queen’s University Belfast’s Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities

In association with

The Ministerial Advisory Group on the Ulster Scots Academy (MAGUS)

Institute for Collaborative Research in Humanities