Since 2013 Donegal County Museum has worked in association with individuals, groups and organisations to commemorate the events which impacted the lives of those living in Donegal 100 years ago. In 2012 the Museum worked with the Thiepval Memorial Loyal Orange Lodge to organise an exhibition on the story of the Ulster Covenant in Donegal. In 2014 the Museum developed an exhibition on Donegal and World War I.
The programme of events continues in 2017 with an exhibition on the landed gentry in Donegal in the years before the foundation of the State and an exhibition and associated programme of events exploring the War of Independence, Civil War and Partition will be developed in the coming years. To commemorate the events of 1916, the Museum organised a programme of activity which included exhibitions, talks, school workshops and events both in the Museum and in venues throughout the County.
The exhibition ‘County Donegal in 1916: Our Story’ opened in Donegal County Museum on the 10th March 2016 and was organised in association with the Archives Service of Donegal County Council. The Museum also organised a series of events to commemorate the Battle of the Somme in which over 80 men from Donegal died on the 1st day. These events included talks; book launches; screenings of the 1916 film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ in association with the Imperial War Museums and a special cloth model re-enactment of the first day of the Battle.
The Museum also developed a touring exhibition, in both Irish and English, which explored the links between Donegal and the Easter Rising and acted as a resource for community groups and venues throughout 2016.
What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?
History is seen and experienced from a variety of perspectives and this is particularly true of the events of 1916. In exploring the story of 1916 in Donegal we chose to look at the whole year and the events local, national and international that impacted the lives of those living in the County.
Men from Donegal fought and died during Easter Week of 1916 and their stories, highlighted in the Museum exhibition, offered visitors an opportunity to engage with the story of 1916 from different perspectives.
The War also had an impact on Donegal in 1916 and it was important that we commemorate those events and the men who were involved. To remember the everyday lives of people in 1916 we also organised a series of interactive drama workshops for schools in which we explored the lives of children and their families in 1916.
The Museum will continue to organise exhibitions and events examining the history of the decade of centenaries and work in association with individuals, groups and organisations throughout the County.
Judith McCarthy, email@example.com