The 6th Connaught Rangers Research Project was formed by a group of people who had an interest in issues related to Irish nationalism and WWI. Some of those group members had family relatives who had enlisted, along with hundreds of others from the Falls Road area, in the Connaught Rangers Regiment at the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914.
From its beginnings it has presented work that combines family and community history intertwined with an understanding of the complex and influencing issues of political environment, the First World War and the poverty and deprivation experienced by many in neighbourhoods and communities across the island of Ireland over a decade of significant social, political, historical and economic events.
The original research project and resulting book, exhibitions and seminars were and remain innovative and a pathfinder in exploring potentially contentious issues in an inclusive and creative way. The resources, work, engagement and dialogue opportunities continue to provide a focus on aspects of shared history, culture and political identity as individuals, families and communities lived with the consequences of war, struggling to cope with the legacy of what they had experienced and what continues to influence community relations and political aspirations in the Ireland of today.
A full report is available on the resources, exhibitions and work with media content which will be available later.
What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?
There is no doubt of the success of the programme. In fact it was also one of the challenges as a small voluntary community based group struggled to cope with the interest and demand in their work locally, regionally and globally.
Being an innovator and pathfinder also meant that the funding support related to history, culture and heritage which are recognised as crucial to building peaceful and sustainable communities were not available to the same extent then.
As to difference it made, we feel we made and continue to make a significant contribution to understanding shared history, to building and preserving significant historical and cultural events that affect the lives of people now as then.
Sean O’Hare, email@example.com