History Hub Ulster is made up of members who are invited to join by the Committee. Our members share their individual skills and research interests to further the aims of the group. We are fully supportive of personal projects as they bring expertise and knowledge to the group as a whole. History Hub Ulster will support and highlight individual projects and assist with funding where possible.
Each project is worked on by different members of the group, depending on skills and experience, and we work together to further our shared knowledge and understanding.
Associate members are engaged on a project by project basis and to provide expert knowledge, speakers and research.
While membership is by invitation only, if you feel that you would like to be part of our group please contact us by email here.
Honorary President: Karen O’Rawe
Current research focus is on the Irish sailor in the First World War. Karen worked alongside the Royal Navy as research partner on the Commemoration of the Irish Sailor in the First World War and assisted the National Museum of the Royal Navy on the Irish research for http://jutland.org.uk/. Karen supported a client from NOW as a research assistant working on an HMS Hawke project, and was delighted to be awarded NOW Champion of the year. She has provided naval research for many organisations and projects as well as for murals and memorials. Karen set up the Castleton Lanterns Great War community project, is co-editor of Ireland WW1 and was Chair of the Somme 100 Advisory Panel.
Karen is an Arts Manager by day working for organisations such as Belfast International Arts Festival, NI Opera, Audiences NI and Belfast Children’s Festival.
Her interest in World War One stems from seeing her Great Great Uncle Thomas Robinson’s medals which were hidden in a drawer in her childhood home and wanting to know more. Since then Karen has found 24 relatives in her extended family who saw service in the First World War. Karen brings to the group a passion for all things digital, 10 years experience of direct and online research, transcription skills and a little black book of contacts. She believes in the importance of community engagement and aims to keep family and individuals at the centre of her work.
She prides herself on not being afraid to go against the grain and almost always finds that ‘needle in the haystack’ even if it takes a few years…
Chair: Gavin Bamford
Gavin’s father, Major G W Rea Bamford TD was a Manager with the Belfast Bank until his untimely death in 1961. His banking career had been broken in 1939 when he volunteered for service. After the war, he continued his military service in the Territorial Army (TA).
In 1974, Gavin followed his father’s career into the Northern Bank. Later Gavin also volunteered for service in the TA. Circumstances around that time saw Gavin transfer into the part-time Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) serving until 1985.
Around 2000, Gavin realised that his father’s name was inscribed on to the Belfast Bank ‘Roll of Honour’ as ‘one who served’. This was to be the catalyst that made Gavin say to himself, “There is a story behind each name on a War Memorial”. In 2003, Gavin assisted a friend, David Cronne in researching the military history of a relative, Lt Col Wm J English VC. English had won his Victoria Cross in 1901 during the 2nd serve in the Great War and WW2. Gavin later published the research on the following website http://www.gavinbamford.utvinternet.com/EnglishVC.htm.
Many years later, Gavin decided that he would commence a project to research every one of the nearly 300 men named on the Bank Memorials. His website http://northernbankwarmemorials.blogspot.co.uk/ went ‘live’ in September 2011 and to date has had nearly 30,000 hits. The success of the Northern Bank War Memorials website led Gavin to undertake further research on the men of the Ulster Bank who served in WW2 http://ulsterbankwarmemorials.blogspot.co.uk.
Gavin’s retirement from the bank in 2013 led him to meet up with other like minded researchers who were interested in the ‘Decade of Centenaries’ and ultimately into History Hub Ulster.
Treasurer: Catherine Burrell
Catherine has been carrying out genealogical research for a number of years since she started researching her family tree and Grandfathers First World War records. This brought her into contact with History Hub Ulster researchers and began working alongside them.
She has a keen interest in military history and has worked on First World War projects with Mid and East Antrim Council commemorating the Battle of Jutland in 2016 and Passchendaele in 2017.
Catherine assists History Hub Ulster members on Great War projects and also helps out with archiving a selection of the War Years Remembered collection.
She is a volunteer with HMS Caroline, the last remaining ship from Battle of Jutland, helping the curator with their archives. Catherine studies History with the Open University specialising in the early modern period. This ties in with her interest of historical witchcraft, particularly the local tale of the Islandmagee witches!
Eddie Connolly has worked in the field of publications and communications for almost 30 years. An avid genealogist and family historian, his interest began in the mid 90s when he undertook research into his own family.
In 2000 he created his website Eddies Extracts with transcripts of the numerous death insertions he had collected from local newspapers. This expanded over the years to include other extracts of historical or social interest and several blogs and Facebook pages.
Among the many records on the site is the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Roll of Honour 1914-1919 – which he began transcribing in 2006 and completed in 2007 with the help of Mary Lennon – that contains the names of almost 26,000 Presbyterians who served in the Great War. This is being added to and amended as new information comes to light. He has also begun to create a Presbyterian Roll of Honour for the Second World War. The military records have also been expanded by the addition of the details of almost 30,000 men from Irish Regiments who were killed in the First World War.
Although no longer as active, he has undertaken commissioned research and operated a lookup service for archives such as PRONI and the Newspaper library. In recent years he has taken part in a number of family history events where he helped members of the public with their family history queries.
Nigel Henderson is a History & Politics graduate of Queen’s University and his principal area of research is Belfast Presbyterians in the Great War. As part of that on-going project, Nigel trawled through the Belfast Evening Telegraph for the 1914-1921 period, photographing servicemen pictures and group pictures, articles and adverts – he now has a digital archive of 10,500+ newspaper photographs of service personnel. Nigel also has a digital archive of the Belfast News Letter’s “Ulster & The War” columns for the 1914-1919 period. Nigel makes his digital archives available to individuals researching family members in the Great War and organisations undertaking locality-based projects – he provided digital material for Gavin Bamford’s research on the Northern Bank in the Great War. Nigel’s ethos is to help others to connect with their family’s part (or their community’s part) in the Great War.
Nigel is also coordinating a project to create a digital record of the headstones for all Great War or World War 2 fatalities buried in the nine counties of Ulster. Nigel has also carried out research for interested parties, whether individual or organisational, and has worked closely with Philip Orr on several projects but not necessarily related to the Great War. In July 2014, Nigel performed research and provided documentation for a Great War exhibition for Randalstown Fold and has provided assistance to the 6th Connaught Rangers exhibitions in 2014. He is working with the Mid Antrim Museum Service (Gallipoli Project) and is performing research for Down Museum.
He also gives talks on the Great War and is currently engaged to make presentations to Public Records Office NI (October 2014), the Belfast and Ballymena branches of the North of Ireland Family History Society and the Ulster Division Memorial Orange Lodge (LOL 977).
Mark McCrea joined the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) unit HMS Caroline in 1999 as a Communications Rating. He became a RNR Officer in 2002 then joined the Royal Navy (RN) as a Marine Engineering Officer in 2003.
He has served as a Trainee Officer on HMS Iron Duke, Assistant Marine Engineering Officer on HMS Westminster, Deputy Marine Engineering Officer on HMS St Albans and Hull Engineering Officer on HMS Queen Elizabeth. Ashore he was worked as the Deputy Dockmaster at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde’s submarine docking facility and as a Careers Officer in the Eastern England region. He now works as a New Platform Assessor for the RN’s Maritime Capability, Trials and Assessment team working on HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
In 2014 Mark was asked by Senior Naval Officer Northern Ireland to research the history of the Royal Navy in Ireland since 1904 to provide historical information for local press releases. Mark has worked very closely with History Hub Ulster in researching WW1 naval events linked to Ulster/Ireland.
Faye was instrumental in setting up the Castleton Lanterns Great War community project and is now Project Manager and researcher. She reports on the progress of the project to the Committee of Alexandra Presbyterian Church which, as Castleton, commissioned the original lantern slides on which the project is based.
Faye is a retired administration officer in Belfast Health & Social Care Trust and was based in the Royal Victoria Hospital. She serves on the committee of Alexandra and on some of its sub-committees.
Faye had grown up knowing that her Great Uncle had fought in World War One but the finding of the lantern slides ignited her interest in the Great War, especially when she was able to confirm that her Great Uncle’s photograph was among them. Finding information on the men whose names are on the Castleton Roll of Honour has only grown that interest. Whilst Faye is continuing her work on Castleton Lanterns, she is also currently organising a memorial event to be held in Alexandra and is working on a project focusing on North Belfast.
She brings her organisational skills to the group and believes that with careful and diligent research we can all remember our forebears with dignity and respect.
His passion for the Great War comes from years of hearing stories of relatives who served with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Royal Irish Rifles, Royal Field Artillery, Royal Engineers and Machine Gun Corps. In an effort to research further into family history, Michael carried out extensive research into the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers leading up to the battle of Festubert, France in May 1915 where his great Uncle James was killed aged 17. He has written an account of the battle which is due to be published in time for the 100th anniversary in May 2015.
Spurred on by a love of research, Michael has recently started a company www.ww1researchireland.com specialising in researching the wartime service of soldiers, sailors and airmen, particularly those from Ireland or of Irish descent. This research will enable families to have an insight into their relatives’ wartime service including battles they took part in and other significant events.
Michael is passionate about research and prides himself on going the extra mile to find out that elusive piece of information.
Peter has a particular interest in local cemeteries, an interest that started when he became involved in Nigel Henderson’s ‘Practical Lest We Forget’ project. After working on more than 50 Great War graves, Peter then turned his attention to working on other graves and, as a result, has devised multiple trails through Belfast City Cemetery on a variety of subjects.
Earlier in the year, Peter delivered 2 tours as part of the Eastside Arts Festival, one in the City Cemetery and the other in Dundonald Cemetery as well as, more recently, a CS Lewis-themed tour as part of the CS Lewis Festival. Peter has also delivered multiple bespoke tours to groups and individuals in Belfast City Cemetery, and hopes to produce a booklet featuring 20 trails in the Cemetery.
Peter is also currently researching each section of Dundonald Cemetery, and hopes to compile a number of articles – not necessarily on cemeteries! – for History Hub Ulster within the near future.