Newtownabbey Arts & Cultural Network (NACN) has applauded local young people who took part in a series of educational workshops.
Mossley Mill was the venue for the special celebration event, which recognised those who participated in the initiative on July 11, 12 and 13, learning about Protestant culture.
The workshop, funded by the Education Authority, was organised by NACN coordinator David Crooks, with help from Rathcoole youth leader Lynn Clyde.
The initiative saw a group of 25 people travel to Todd’s Leap in Co Tyrone to have fun and engage in educational workshops based on the Protestant history and culture.
“It is so important that our young people get educated on our culture and heritage so as they know and understand the right way of it,” Mr Crooks said. “Our children grow up in a society that is full of ignorance and this helps create part of the divisions we see between different religions and cultures. To understand your own identity and be able and confident to share it with others has to be part of the process we need to implement more of in our schools and communities.
“Before we can learn or be educated on others’ identities we really have to know us, ourselves. Then and only then will the people in the community be able to explore other people’s cultures,” he added.
As part of the workshops, Billy Stewart from the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland gave the young people a talk about the Glorious Revolution, the European wars and the three kings involved in the conflict.
All of the children who took part in the workshops and their parents were invited to the celebration evening at Mossley Mill.
Among those who attended the event were local councillors and MLAs, local clergy and historian Philip Orr. UUP leader Mike Nesbitt and his wife Lynda Bryans were also present, as were representatives from a number of organisations including Londonderry Bands Forum, The Siege Museum, Apprentice Boys of Derry, Ulster Scots Agency, Rathcoole Protestant Boys Flute Band, Parades Commission, Education Authority and the PSNI.
Musical entertainment was provided by The Hounds of Ulster - a traditional music group which supported the NACN workshops.
The night of celebration also marked the beginning of a new project that NACN has started aimed at promoting Protestant culture.
Future workshops being organised by the group will cover themes such as The Orange Order, Ulster Scots, Bonfire History, Drumming Workshops, The Protestant Reformation and Parading Issues. The project is expected to involve trips to the Boyne and Derry’s walls.
Speaking at the event, newly appointed NACN chairperson Karen Tufts said: “It is a privilege to take the chair as Rathcoole is my home and NACN is based in the area. I feel that I can give my experience and passion to help regenerate the cultural expression back into the community.”
For more information, or to get involved with the project, check out the ‘Nabbey Arts CN’ Facebook page.