Newtownabbey residents urged to be part of NI Centenary programme

Newtownabbey residents are invited to be part of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Northern Ireland Centenary Commemorative programme.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 2:22 pm

Outgoing Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Cllr Jim Montgomery said: “This year marks the end of a Decade of Centenaries which has been taking place since 2012, commemorating a succession of events that unfolded a century ago.

“These events and their impact redefined the island of Ireland and its people forever. Some of the significant centenaries marked to date include the signing of the Ulster Covenant, the Home Rule bill, the outbreak of World War I, the Battle of the Somme, the 1916 Easter Rising, the Suffrage Movement, World War II and now 2021 marks 100 years of the formation of Northern Ireland.

“There is no doubt that people make places and as part of the council’s 2021 Centenary programme, we want to recognise the contribution made to the Borough and Northern Ireland by engaging all of the community in a range of projects which can tell our story in an inclusive manner.”

Cllr Jim Montgomery with a painting of the Barbican Gate by his former school teacher, Mr Harry Boyd which he is contributing to the Centenary Collections project.

The local authority has outlined a number of key elements as part of the centenary programme including a Centenary Collection, Centenary Scripts and Centenary Citizens.

A council spokesperson said: “Help us create a Centenary Collection which can help us tell the story of the last 100 years featuring treasured objects, their story and their place in a shared past.

“So if you have a special object or possession that relates to any time period between 1921 and today, something that perhaps has been handed down through many generations of your family. The objects and possessions can be anything from a painting, a sports medal, a war medal, an ornament or item of clothing, a factory clock in card or an item of print and you think this could be part of or Centenary collections, we would love to hear from you.

“Finally, as a lasting legacy of the project, all the items and their stories will feature in a catalogue of the Centenary Collection along with an acknowledgement of all the contributors, including original owners be they living or passed away, so future generations can understand who we were in 2021.”

The spokesperson added: “We are asking all age groups to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards and tell us what your feelings are about Northern Ireland over the past 100 years. You may prefer to express your hopes for the future either personally, for your family, your community or this place, participants are encouraged to use the medium of poetry and verse if they wish.

“The shared historical experience over the past 100 years has very different narratives and memories and through this project there is a hope to achieve greater mutual understanding and respect among citizens from different traditions.

“We hope to display as many of these scripts as possible across our Borough, in our parks, open spaces, greenways and within the heart of our communities so they can be shared by all and allow for thoughtful reflection.”

The spokesperson concluded: “Northern Ireland is renowned for the big hearted spirit of its people. We want to take the opportunity presented by the Centenary to highlight and recognise the ‘unsung heroes’ of our borough who in recent years and times past have made a positive contribution to community life.

“In the autumn we will be reaching out and asking for nominations for ‘Centenary Citizens’ either living or deceased, who have played a special role in the last 100 years of our borough and deserve their story to be told.

“Do you know someone who is perhaps no longer with us or someone very much at the heart of our community who deserve the accolade of ‘Centenary Citizen’? If so please nominate, so we can identify our unsung heroes and the people that have shaped our place!”

Cllr Montgomery stated “For the Centenary Collection project I have contributed a personal copy of the Alexander Irvine book My Lady of the Chimney Corner, as well as a painting of the Barbican Gate in Antrim which is particularly special to me as it was painted by my former teacher, Mr Harry Boyd from Parkhall Secondary School.

“I will also be putting my own thoughts down on paper for the Centenary Scripts and I will definitely be putting forward a number of potential nominees for the Centenary Citizens.

“This project is an opportunity to create a shared story of the place we call home with respect for all views on the historical events that shaped who we are today. I would encourage everyone in the Borough to participate.”

For details on how to get involved, check out www.antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk/nicentenary

Earlier this year the Council was awarded £94,600 from the Shared History Fund – a fund of £1 million provided by the NI Office and administered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund for groups and organisations to deliver events across the UK to mark the centenary. This funding will support the Council’s Commemorative programme ‘A Country’s Centenary for Our Community.’

For more on this funding allocation, read here

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