The Histories We Hand Down and Pass On

2nd December 2022

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Handed Down Histories (1)

A fascinating new exhibition, “Handed Down Histories”, was launched on Saturday 29 October 2022 at Enniskillen Castle.  Exploring memories relating to the Decade of Centenaries 1912-1922, the exhibition was officially opened by the Vice Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Allan Rainey MBE, with guest speaker, Elizabeth Crooke, Professor of Museum and Heritage Studies, Ulster University.

“Handed Down Histories” views the transformational events of 1912-1922 through the different perspectives of personal stories collected and displayed alongside photographs, recordings, objects and memorabilia.

Speaking at the launch, Vice Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Allan Rainey said:

“I am delighted that Enniskillen Castle Museums is hosting this exhibition as it provides an opportunity to experience and understand the early decade of the 20th century.

Histories can be captured in books, however, personal stories and memories handed down through generations help to preserve the past and ensure that future generations can learn more about the events which shaped our sense of identity and place.”

The “Handed Down Histories” exhibition has been made possible through the generosity of individuals in sharing personal, family and community histories. The personal impact of World War, for example, can be seen through the poignant letters written by Jack Carrothers and sent home, which were kindly lent by his nephew, Sam Carrothers.  Rita Swift has shared a treasured autograph book from World War I with the entries highlighting that camaraderie and humour can be found even in the most difficult of times. The stories of Fermanagh internees on the Prison Ship Argenta in the 1920s, including Sean Nethercott and Patrick Leonard, are told through information researched and carefully documented for posterity by Bernadette Layden. Community Groups such as the Enniskillen Lawn Tennis Club have shared their records from the period including an invaluable Minute Book from 1905-1922.

Reminiscences are recounted through oral histories recorded through the “A Time of Change 2021” project, run by the Council’s Good Relations team, with financial support from The Executive Office. From ‘young men off to war’ to the Spanish Flu, the Battle of Belleek and border smuggling, these oral histories represent a lasting testament of events and individuals.

As part of her talk at the exhibition launch, guest speaker, Professor Elizabeth Crooke summarized:

“We make memories tangible through the objects we keep privately in the home or those we choose to display in the public space of museums…we cannot go forward without our past.  There is barely a person, community or nation that doesn’t use the time that went before as a steppingstone to the future.”

Many more individual stories are recounted and shared from the Decade of Centenaries in the “Handed Down Histories” exhibition, on display at Enniskillen Castle until 25 March 2023.