“Shared History: Shared Future” brings together six historical, literary and regeneration groups from South Tyrone in a cross-community project delivered by Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council through the Peace III phase 2 programme financed by the European Union. It was launched at the Hill of the O’Neill and Ranfurly House Visitor Centre in Dungannon by the Mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone, Councillor Phelim Gildernew. Brian Lambkin, Director of The Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, was the guest speaker.
Mr Lambkin gave an informative talk on comparative local history: what do we tell the children? He spoke about the significance of townlands, the smallest unit in civil administration, and said they were the key to a better understanding of any local area. He hoped there would be a synergy between the various groups and that their projects would have a wider value in the areas of tourism and genealogy.
The Shared History Shared Future Project is funded through the European Union’s Peace & Reconciliation Fund and delivered by the South West Peace Cluster and Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council. The project was awarded over £25,000 to develop an interlinked schedule of activities over the coming months. It promises to be a very interesting and informative project which encapsulates figures of literary importance such as William Carleton right through to the social history of local engineering and entrepreneurship of John Finlay and Sylvester Mallon, pioneers in quarry engineering to exploring the history of our waterways and townlands.
The project is made up of six societies who have come together to share with each other and with the wider community an awareness of their own fields of expertise and use it towards a shared understanding of our history and future. The groups are:-
O’Neill Country Historical Society;
Caledon Regeneration Partnership;
Donaghmore Historical Society;
Killeeshil and Clonaneese Historical Society;
South Lough Neagh Regeneration Association.
During the evening, each group gave an overview of their origins and the focus of previous work. While maintaining the individuality of each of their projects all agree that the contribution to this project enhances and increases awareness of who they are and what they are about.
The O’Neill Country Historical Society, represented by Art Daly from Benburb, was established in 1985. Their aim is to research, record and publish the history of the area along the valley of the River Blackwater straddling the border between counties Armagh and Tyrone. The group promote knowledge and understanding of this area’s heritage and folklore through publications, lectures and seminars and interact with other local historical groups and bodies with a view to promoting interest in our history.
Caledon Regeneration Partnership was established in 1996 and comprises representation from the local community, Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council and Caledon Estates Company. William Beattie outlined how the Partnership actively promote the conservation and protection of the built and natural heritage of the area and have undertaken a number of major restoration projects within Caledon Village. The restoration of the Caledon Beam Engine Complex is currently underway. Caledon Regeneration Partnership are actively involved in a number of community projects. Caledon Village Allotments were opened in 2011. Chairman Jim Brady said “the Partnership are delighted to join together with like-minded groups across the region in this exploration of our cultural and industrial heritage”.
The William Carleton Society is a cross-community, cross-border group which is dedicated to promoting the works of the well-known Irish author from County Tyrone and his life and times. The Chair, Jim Cavanagh, explained how it seeks to use his stories of faction-fighting and sectarianism in 19th Century Ireland as the basis for talks and discussions on history and literature and the lessons for modern-day society. By discussing issues such as sectarianism the Society hopes to open up a meaningful debate and an educative process around this issue, which is still relevant to the current situation in Northern Ireland. Its main event is a four-day annual international summer school in Clogher in the first week of August . This year’s is the 22nd since its inception in 1992.
The Society will be organising a cross-community concert in Fivemiletown Methodist Hall with the Murley Silver Band and Monaghan Gospel Choir on Wednesday August 7th. On the previous evening, August 6th, there will be a cross-community walk “in the footsteps of Carleton”, followed by music from the diferent traditions. There will also be a series of talks in the coming months including one by Dr Paddy Fitzgerald on the “Ulster English” and two others given by members of the Society about Carleton and the Clogher Valley area. Although Carleton grew up in the Clogher area and one of the places he lived at Springtown still survives, “Carleton’s Cottage”, he spent most of his life in Dublin, where he changed his religion to Anglicanism. In January, members of the Society in Tyrone held a study trip to Dublin to visit Sandford Church of Ireland in Ranelagh, where he worshipped. They also visited his grave at Mount Jerome cemetery, where Precentor Noel Regan from St Macartan’s Cathedral in Clogher led a prayer and summer school director Michael Fisher laid flowers to mark the 144th anniversary of his death.
Donaghmore Historical Society’s Townlands project is dedicated to the importance of these geographical divisions of land that have existed for thousands of years, long before towns and villages developed. They are a most important element of our heritage. Since the Post Office ceased using town lands in the early 1970s and introduced road names instead, there has been a steady decline in the awareness of our town lands by all of us but more especially by the younger generations. Members of Donaghmore Historical Society intend to study a number of townlands in the parish of Donaghmore to find things like the acreage, the meaning of the name and any other features of interest and to chart the changes that have taken place in them over the past two hundred years.
Patricia Bogue outlined how they intend to research all available records of the people who lived in the townlands and to record all their findings in book form. The aim of the publication will be to help genealogists and family history researchers seeking information about the many emigrants from the parish, living in all parts of the world. To help raise awareness of townlands in the new generations, the group also intend to involve schools from the parish in the project.
Killeeshil and Clonaneese Historical Society described how it was formed in March 2009 from the coming together of people throughout the areas of Killeeshil and Clonaneese, Co. Tyrone who have a keen interest in local history. Richard Knox said the Society’s aims are to broaden the knowledge of the area’s long and wonderful history and to provide a mechanism whereby local people and those from further afield can access this knowledge through literature, talks & events and the internet.
The Society is keen to promote the fact that the area has a rich shared history which should be enjoyed by everyone and as such the Society’s ethos is cross-community. If you would like to become a member of the Society please contact the Secretary or come along to the various events they will be holding in the coming months through the Shared History Shared Future Project.
Like the other five members in the project, the South Lough Neagh Regeneration Association is a voluntary cross-community group. It aims to attract and encourage investment in the economic, social and environmental well-being of the southern shores of Lough Neagh; to generate activity, employment, enthusiasm and pride in the community. They are interested in the area of the “Derrys”: covering Derrymacash, Derryadd, Derrytrasna, Derryinver, Derrylard, The Birches, Maghery, Derryloughan and Derrytresk.
Local historian Tommy Glenny told the launch that the group plans to make a video about the walkways of the defunct Ulster Canal, which once played an important role in transportation in the area. There are plans by Waterways Ireland to restore part of the canal, which linked Lough Neagh through Monaghan and Clones with Upper Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, as part of a tourism project. The group takes a special interest in the stretch between Maghery and Benburb and will be holding events in May on the old canal towpath.
The PEACE III Programme is part-funded by the European Union (€225 million from the EU with further national contributions of €108 million) through its Structural Funds Programme. The four Councils of Cookstown, Dungannon and South Tyrone, Fermanagh and Magherafelt came together to manage the PEACE III Programme for Measure 1.1 – ‘Building Positive Relations at a Local Level’ across the four Council areas. This area is referred to as the South West Cluster. The full title of the PEACE III Programme is the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland. The programme is available in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of the Republic of Ireland and covers the period 2007-2013.
The four Councils of the South West Cluster were allocated a budget of £3,461,440 for Phase I of the PEACE III Programme (2007-2010) and a further allocation of £3,461,743 has been awarded to deliver Phase II of the Programme for the period 2011-2013. The Phase II Action Plan has been developed after extensive consultation with local stakeholders and analysis of the needs of communities across the the South West Cluster.