1917 Postcards

Searching through NMNI’s collection fro 1917 objects, I came across these beautiful embroidered postcards. I have not seen this type of First World War embroidered silk postcard before and they show scenes of destruction from Ypres. When you tilt the card, the light reflects off the silk and it gives the impression that the building is on fire.belum-zg5556-1_record


But what is most striking about these postcards is that they are signed by a Willie Hunter from Belfast.

We met a William Hunter during an East Belfast Living Legacies roadshow in 2014 and he told us about his father also called William who was a stretcher bearer for the RAMC during the First World War. William kindly lent us his father’s campaign medals for our Remembering 1916: Your Stories exhibition.

Could these postcards belong to the William that we met??



What an experience!

We had an amazing time in Lowell. The presentations were all interesting and the delegates really engaged and responded with questions  to the speakers afterwards. There were many conversations and discussions about the legacy of 1916.

We enjoyed seeing Lowell and Boston and we will miss the people, architecture and culture.

Church in Lowell or Ireland? Thoroughly enjoyed seeing the many cultural influences on the town of Lowell and city of Boston. This church reminded us of the many Irish churches scattered over the Northern Irish countryside.

It was great to have the people of Lowell and academics at U Mass take such as interest in our work here at the Living Legacies Centre 1914-18. Many thanks for inviting us to speak at the Remembering 1916: A Public Engagement Conference.

Don’t forget to keep up to date with all our news and work we are doing by visiting the Living Legacies 1914-18 website here: http://www.livinglegacies1914-18.ac.uk/


Conference Day Two

Day Two begins with Victoria introducing the The Honorable Fionnuala Quinlan, Consul General of Ireland to Boston. Fionnuala tells us about an extraordinary woman, Winifred Carney. Carey’s story features in our Remembering 1916: Your Stories exhibition and we feature a rare photograph of her with her two sisters and mother. Photograph kindly lent to the exhibition by a relative.

The Honorable Fionnuala Quinlan, Consul General of Ireland to Boston

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016

8 – 9 a.m. Conference Registration. Hallway outside Lower Locks, 1st Floor
9 – 9:15 a.m. Conference Welcome: Chair Victoria Denoon, Co-Director, Center for Irish Partnerships.
Speaker: The Honorable Fionnuala Quinlan, Consul General of Ireland to Boston.
Grand Ballroom, 1st Floor
9:15 – 10 a.m. From Past Conflict to Shared Future: Exploring the ‘Living Legacies’ of World War 1 and 1916
Chair Prof. Audrey Horning, Queen’s University Belfast.
Speaker Prof. Keith Lilley, ‘Living Legacies 1914 – 1918.’
Grand Ballroom, 1st Floor
10 – 10:45 a.m. Remembering 1916: Session I – Community Engagement in Northern Ireland
Chair Dr. Steve McCarthy, Co-Director, Center for Irish Partnership. Speaker Dr. Kurt Taroff, Queen’s University Belfast; Sophie Long, PhD Candidate at Queen’s University Belfast.
Grand Ballroom, 1st Floor
11 – 11:45 a.m. Excavating 1916: Community Archaeology in Action
Chair Erin Caples, Associate Director, Center for Irish Partnerships.
Speaker: Dr. Colm Donnelly, Director, Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork (CAF) and Senior Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast; Heather Montgomery, Queen’s University Belfast.
Grand Ballroom, 1st Floor
11:45 – 12:30 p.m Memorializing 1916: The Rising, Tradition and Social Memory
Chair Ruairi O’Mahony, Associate Director, Center for Irish Partnerships.
Speakers: Dr. Tomás Mac Conmara, Manager, Cork Folklore Project; Thomas O’Mahony, Cork Folklore Project.
Grand Ballroom, 1st Floor
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Lunch
Grand Ballroom, 1st Floor
1:30 – 2:15 p.m. Exhibiting 1916: Community Engagement and Curating Practices
Chair Steven Rogers, Senior Director of Development, UMass Lowell.
Speakers: William Blair, Head of Human History, National Museums Northern Ireland; Fiona Byrne, Living Legacies 1914 – 1918.
Grand Ballroom, 1st Floor
2:15 – 3:30 p.m. Remembering 1916: Session II – Irish-American Identity and Remembrance
Chair Dr. Frank Talty, Co-Director, Center for Irish Partnerships
“Lowell and the Rising: What Do the Newspapers Tell Us?” Speaker Prof. Robert Forrant, University of Massachusetts Lowell
“Lowell’s Contributions to World War I” Speaker Eileen Loucraft, Lowell Historical Society
Grand Ballroom, 1st Floor
3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Irish-American Connections: Reflecting on 1916 and 2016 – a Roundtable
Chair Prof. Keith Lilley, ‘Living Legacies 1914 – 1918,’ Queen’s University Belfast
Grand Ballroom, 1st Floor
4:30 – 6 p.m. Conference Closing and Reception.
Grand Ballroom, 1st Floor
Prof Keith Lilley telling the delegates about the Living Legacies Centre 1914-18 and outlines the services, support and funding we provide and highlighting some of the work the centre has undertaken.

Dr Kurt Taroff and Sophie Long, PhD Candidate at QUB, highlight the community engagement work they have done in Northern Ireland through drama and research workshops.

Heather Montgomery tells us about how her research is revealing new understanding about the standard of training Irish recruits received. Her work on recent excavations shows the extent of the training at Finner Camp in Co. Donegal and highlights features in the cultural landscape.

img_6967 I presented my talk on the community engagement work I carried out in relation to preparing for the Remembering 1916: Your Stories exhibition. The talk features a short video produced by Supernova Productions commissioned by National Museums Northern Ireland. The video showed the delegates William Hunter and Margaret Hamilton tell their own family war stories. We met William and Margaret through Living Legacies community engagement.

To view this video and others relating to the First World War produced for NMNI please see link here: www.nmni.com/1916

Other notable presentations included that of Dr. Tomás Mac Conmara, Manager of the Cork Folklore Project. Tomás talk showed us the value of the oral histories he has gathered over the last decade and in particular focused on the personalities featured in an Autograph book which is kindly on loan from National Museum Ireland to our Remembering 1916: Your Stories exhibition.

Living Legacies members enjoying the evening reception

Living Legacies Centre 1914-18 and Queen’s University Belfast proud co-sponsors of this conference with U Mass Lowell Centre for Irish Partnerships
William Blair networking. Keith and Heather showing us the conference flyer
Living Legacies Centre 1914-18 members due to speak at the Remembering 1916: The EasterRising, The Battle of the Somme and Impact on Lowell – A Public Engagement Conference.                                                                                                                                   Sophie Long, Fiona Byrne, William Blair, Dr Kurt  Taroff, Prof Audrey Horning & Prof Keith Lilley


Conference Day One

Victoria Denoon

The conference begins with Chair Victoria Denoon, Co-Director for Irish Partnerships, introducing the sponsors of the conference including Audrey Horning, QUB.

Keith Lilley introduces William Blair, keynote speaker on ‘Remembering 1916: Legacy & Commemoration.’


Prof Audrey Horning QUB
Prof Keith Lilley, QUB & Living Legacies Centre








William Blair NMNI

William speaks of the NMNI 1916 Programme and the issues surrounding the legacy of 1916 in contemporary Northern Irish society. William shares some evaluation of the exhibition which is mixed but highlights the passions of the memory of 1916 to both the Nationalist and Unionist communities.


Downtown Boston

We have some time to explore downtown Boston before the conference begins at 5.00pm. The locals describe Boston as a typical immigrant city with many from Irish descend. It is a dynamic city and I notice the amount of memorials erected that reflect the conflicts its citizens have endured and show how diverse the city is. The Living Legacies Centre 1914-18 will have a focus of commemoration and material culture in the new year.

Memorial to their police service, firemen, those to fought in the Vietnam War and to the Polish and Lithuanian immigrants to have contributed to Boston City.  There is also a Holocaust memorial in the city centre which is a poignant reminder of the horror of the gas chambers as you enter a series of glass chambers placed a garden.

First World War Memorial to George Crotty, who enlisted in 1917. Dedicated to a ‘courageous soldier and faithful public servant.

In Lowell – meeting local people

Started our day off in the Owl Diner enjoying a traditional American breakfast with our lovely guide and conference organizer Victoria Denoon.




A local priest was dining and welcomed us to his Church, St. Patrick’s for a tour. Our own Colm Donnelly has previously carried out transatlantic evacuations between Lowell, including at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Northern Ireland.

Diner owners couldn’t have been any more pleasant and presented two of our members with their Diner mug and T-Shirt.