On Wednesday 2 August, the Linen Hall launched ‘We Lived It – the social impact of the Troubles’. This exhibition and oral history project revisits a turbulent decade in Northern Ireland, capturing the day-today-day reality of living in the midst of conflict.
Rachel Brady, Divided Society Education and Outreach Officer, led the launch describing it as a “thought-provoking exhibition based on the Linen Hall’s ‘Troubles’ collection which now numbers over 350,000 items.” She added, “We worked extensively with community groups to gather a large selection of audio interviews which capture the good, the bad and the ugly days of 90s Northern Ireland.”
Paul Mullan, head of Divided Society’s main funding partner Heritage Lottery Fund Northern Ireland, and Julie Andrews, Linen Hall Library Director, also spoke at the launch crediting Rachel and the Divided Society team for their work while outlining the importance of archiving material from this significant period in the history of Northern Ireland.
The exhibition is running up to August 30 showcasing an array of social history items such as key rings, badges, and t-shirts branded with slogans and logos from the 90s. There is also a small section of the HM Prison Maze wall (drilled out to make room for a television set) on display.
‘Troubles’-themed artwork by important local artists Sean Hillen and F.E. McWilliam have been loaned to the Library by Newry and Mourne Museum and the F.E. McWilliam Gallery. This includes a piece from the well-known series Women of Belfast, created in response to the Abercorn bombing of 1972. The representations of frantic movement and frozen horror emanate from the bronze sculpture.
The revealing oral history archive has been assembled capturing people from all walks of life in Northern Ireland relaying their memories of difficult – and sometimes even humorous – times navigating through this very abnormal situation. Visitors can listen via MP3 players incorporated into the exhibition.
There will be a Divided Society – Reminiscence workshop on Monday 21 August at 1.00pm. This free event will invite people to discuss the project, listen to the oral archives and have an opportunity to put forward their own memories.
We Lived It is part of the Divided Society project which is digitising large parts of the Linen Hall’s Northern Ireland Political Collection concentrating on the decade from 1990 – 1998. Along with the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project is also partially funded by Ulster Garden Villages and the Department of Foreign Affairs Peace and Reconciliation Fund.
(pictured is a Northern Ireland political chess set by Anthony Brennan which is on display in the exhibition)