Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Sharing Ballintoy’s Hidden History

In this update, Ballintoy Archaeological and Historical Society wants to tell you about its efforts to share Ballintoy’s Hidden History project with other local people and, in turn, give them the opportunity to share with us their knowledge, memories and stories of Ballintoy’s rich heritage.  We have found, to paraphrase Ana Monnar, that sharing enriches everyone with more knowledge.

~ Mount Druid Vintage Rally ~

The Society took a stall at the Mount Druid Vintage Rally, held at the Rectory, Ballintoy, on Saturday 8 June 2013. The rally is an annual event, which attracts a huge crowd. Among the items we had on display were leaflets about our project and the Society, as well as old photographs and artefact's. Also on display was a pull-up exhibition panel we had produced on the Stewart family who lived in Ballintoy Castle, which is one of the sites we are exploring as part of our project.  We were very pleased with the level of interest our stall attracted. It gave us the opportunity to speak directly to people, who though interested in their local heritage, had never attended any of our previous events.
The Societies Stall at the Mount Druid Vintage Rally. 

~ Talk on Templastragh Church ~

Templastragh Church is also one of the hidden sites we have been researching and surveying during the past few months. At Templastragh, there are the foundations of an early Christian church, situated in a graveyard known locally as the ‘Scotch Graveyard’, and the substantial ruins of a medieval church which stands in a nearby graveyard, referred to as the ‘Irish Graveyard’.

To raise awareness of this important site, the Society hosted an illustrated talk by Dr Colm Donnelly on ‘Templastragh and the Medieval Irish Church’ in Ballintoy Parish Hall on Thursday 27 June 2013.   Originally from Ballintoy, Dr Donnelly is the Director of the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork at Queen’s University, Belfast.  He gave a fascinating overview of the archaeology and history of the site and explained how reform and changes within the Irish Church between 1200 and 1600 had influenced the building of the medieval church. We were delighted that over 60 local people attended the talk and that several of them shared with us local stories about Templastragh.
The ruins of the medieval church at Templastragh.

~ Community Workshop ~

Our Society held a very successful community workshop in St Joseph’s Hall, Ballintoy, on Saturday 29 June 2013.  We organised this event to encourage more local people to participate in our project and share their knowledge of the colourful history of Ballintoy and surrounding districts. To stimulate interest and discussion we staged a display about our project and the activities of the Society. We also exhibited historic local photographs and artefact's.
The display of historic photographs, maps and artefacts stimulated much discussion at the community workshop.

The event began with an inspirational illustrated talk by Roddy Regan, an archaeologist, from the Kilmartin House Museum in Argyll, Scotland. Roddy has taken part in several community archaeology projects in Scotland, which were similar to Ballintoy’s Hidden History project. He outlined the different types of projects undertaken by groups in Argyll and gave us much useful advice. Roddy demonstrated how important community projects, lead by local people, are to preserving the heritage of their area and showed us examples of what could be achieved. He also highlighted the close links between north Antrim and the west of Scotland and encouraged us to place our project findings in this broader geographical context.

We had encouraged members of the local community to bring old photographs and other historical documents to the workshop, which we would scan to enable us to begin creating a community archive. We were very pleased with the response to our appeal and we hope to display some of the items we scanned on our website, which is currently being developed, and at an exhibition to be staged in October 2013.
Society stalwart, Miriam Thompson, was kept busy scanning old photographs at
the community workshop.
We were also delighted that many people who attended the workshop shared with us their stories about Ballintoy Castle, Templastragh Church and White Park School, as well as about many other aspects of our local heritage, including place names and field names.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about the various activities the Society has undertaken to encourage local people to participate in our project.


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