• new perspectives on 1916

The project was organised by Sheehy Skeffington School in collaboration with Soma festival group, Gallery of Photography Ireland, Castlewellan Inter Church Forum and the Centre for Contemporary Christianity.

The project was based around a curated exhibition in collaboration with the Gallery of Photography Ireland with three main aspects:

- The life and legacy of Roger Casement, with a focus on his humanitarian work in the Congo and Putamayo.
- A showcase of WW1 artefacts with a local connection, contributed by the family of the late Tom Edgar, local historian.
- Broader representations of the aftermath of the Easter Rising and life in County Down in this pivotal era in our history.
- Guided Tour: John Gray of Linen Hall library walking tour in Belfast on key events and people of 1916, including stories of nationalism, WW1 and the Easter Rising.
- Phillip Orr talks on local events and people associated with 1916, with emphasis on woman and children, Casement and the Sheehy Skeffingtons.
- Micheline Sheehy Skeffington on her grandparents and presents the Sheehy Skeffington Plaque to Castlewellan Community Partnership.
- Reflections of a humanitarian aid worker and the relevance of Casement and Congo Reform Association. Talk By Angus Lambkin, UN followed by discussion.
- Talk by Dr. Aidan McQuade CEO of Anti Slavery international followed by discussion.
- Performance and post performance discussion of Halfway House play by Philip Orr.

What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?

It was a project that emerged rather than planned and designed and this worked in that people became interested in the themes and the process and the different dynamic generated more trust. The exhibition was central to the programme. One of the challenges was to create an inclusive exhibition where both sections of the dominant population feel representative. The inclusion of the WW1 artefacts of Tom Edgar was central to the exhibition. 

The focus on the global humanitarian work of Roger Casement and the introduction of the lives of Francis and Hannah Sheehy Skeffington cast new light on our heritage. Its biggest success is that it has engendered local community interest in our heritage. Curiosity in the humanitarianism of Casement, the social justice and feminism of the both Sheehy Skeffingtons and in the nonviolence of Frank has been awakened. 

There is collaboration from the organisations listed above at the local level.  The Sheehy Skeffington award for an individual that promotes kindness, courage and community is an annual award 2016-2026 to name and acknowledge local leadership. Sheehy Skeffington School will promote further stories of peace and social justice from our past through the arts. 

As a result of the project, there now exists a context for dialogue on contentious issues for people from different cultural and religious backgrounds, It is our experience that most people, when curiosity arises, want to reflect and learn from our past. Creating the right conditions for this learning to happen is important; relationships, use of a variety of creative modalities and process oriented programmes are part of these conditions,

Further Information

Mary McAnulty, mary.dara@gmail.com