The Border Arts group organised 3 lectures based on the 1912 – 1923 period, funded through Strabane District Council’s Good Relations budget.
The lectures and discussion afterwards covered the signing of the Ulster Covenant, WWI, and the Easter Rising and they were held one evening a week in a local heritage centre with an exhibition of war propaganda available for viewing on the last evening. The project was developed in order to address difficulties that were anticipated by some local communities around the Decade of Anniversaries and associated commemorations. This project was an attempt to bring people together to learn about all of the significant events of the decade in a coherent fashion.
The series of 3 lectures and discussion afterwards:
• Challenged misconceptions such as those about the formation of the UVF and IRA and helped people to see the complexities of our history; • Reminded people that a century ago was a different era, and that Ireland had not yet been partitioned at that stage;
• Brought home the realities of WWI for local families. The talk was made local to West Tyrone, with local family names mentioned, including Catholics who had served in the War, and details of how they were treated when they returned home, which helped to foster a more shared sense of identification with Remembrance Sunday;
• Helped people to see the connection between events, and that there was a rationale for commemorating the events together, as one had an impact on the other.
What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?
Those who were thought to be difficult to engage were personally invited to be participants, including activists and politicians from all parties, with transparency about who else would be attending. Some of those approached felt that the lectures couldn’t work, and that they could result in greater division, yet all three lectures were attended by 50 people on each night.
A wide range of slides and overheads were used which illustrated the lectures and brought them to life, and the exhibition also provided visual stimulus for discussion.
Contact Gordon Speer, Border Arts Project Co-ordinator via email: firstname.lastname@example.org