The Ballymurphy based youth and community organisation, Glór na Móna, held its end of project celebration event for its community heritage project, ‘Faoi Scáth an tSléibhe- Connecting People and Place in the Upper Springfield Area’ that aimed to document and chart the unique history of the Upper Springfield community. At Gaelionad Mhic Goill, today (Friday December 3) as part of the Gaeltacht Quarter community festival Fléadh Feirste, Glór naMóna launched an interactive heritage website (www.faoisat.com), a physical exhibition curating the history of the area and a documentary charting the inspirational story of the Upper Springfield.
Speaking at today’s event, Dr Michael Pierse, aSenior Lecturer in Irish Literature and academic expert in the field of working class history said:
‘This ‘Faoi Scáth an tSléibhe- Connecting People and Place in the Upper Springfield Area’ is all about connecting people to place, deepening our cultural heritage, generating conversations, understanding and not a little pride, and it is certainly a vindication of the foresight of its funders at the National Lottery Heritage Fund. By collecting local stories, preserved through the stylish project website www.faoisat.com, producing short documentaries, collecting and curating photographs, interviews, and scans, this project makes local history vibrant and accessible. Projects like this restore dignity; give areas like this a better sense of their rich histories and their importance.
‘I’d like to commend the team at Glór na Móna on this wonderful project. It’s an outstanding example of partnership between the community and academics and practitioners in public history—an initiative that both changes our vision of the past and has a vision for the future, as I can see through Glór na Móna’s ambition to extend these activities into a new long-term community hub. This is precisely the kind of thing public monies should be funding in terms of heritage development. It raises ambitions and expectations. It builds resources, resilience and skills. We see before us the tangible benefits, but those intangibles—the feelings and energies released by a project like this—are, I suspect, its most important outputs. ‘
Michael Lyons, from Redhead Conference an Exhibitions, who designed the community heritage exhibition stated:
‘The scope of heritage material being excavated in the Upper Springfield is extraordinary. For future interpretation, public display and interactive engagement, the team at Glór na Móna have established an initiative that will form the basis of many future heritage projects. The heritage capital being unearthed is a community heritage, a political heritage, a youth development heritage, a language heritage, an activism heritage, an economic heritage, a sporting and cultural heritage and an environmental heritage.’
‘The concept of Connecting People and Place that has framed this current project is so authentic. It has real currency in helping local people celebrate that heritage and validates the vision of the Glór team that visitors both local and international will want to come, spend time, learn, explore, touch and feel this history in this spectacular setting at the foot of the Belfast Hills. The exhibition, the website and the film launched today have set a standard for what’s to come in the future. We look forward to supporting Glór na Móna in continuing to curate this unique heritage offering as part of their exciting and ambitious vision for an interpretive heritage café in their future ‘Croí an Carraige’ capital project.’
Dr Paul Mullan, Director of the National Lottery Heritage Fune NI, commented ‘the Glor na Mona project is a great example of how community heritage can reach into the heart of a community to tell its story in a very personal but relatable way. It reveals a community through decades of good and challenging times. The National Lottery Heritage Fund is delighted to have supported this great work.’
Concluding the event, Executive Director of Glór naMóna, Dr Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh stated:
‘We would like to thank all the speakers for their kind words of support and are especially grateful to Dr Paul Mullan for coming today and to the National Lottery, Heritage Fund for supporting our project over the past two years. Our aim, from the outset, has been to engage with the local community in uncovering, exploring and excavating the social, cultural, natural and environmental history of our proud working-class community.
‘The Upper Springfield and Greater Ballymurphy area is renowned for its exemplary ability to develop ground-breaking community self-help initiatives spanning over 50 years and our website, exhibition and documentary films aim to preserve, showcase and make this hidden history accessible as a valuable community resource that helps embed and strengthen the communities pride and connection to local place.
‘The project has been built on community participation from the beginning and overlapped with the considerable community support we have evidenced in our recent Feasibility study undertaken on new flagship Irish medium community capital facility, Croí na Carraige on the land adjacent to our current Gaelionad Mhic Goill building. Thisfeasibility study identified our community heritage offering as central to a vision for a vibrant multi-purpose Irish Medium hub with families, young people and the local community at its heart. We look forward to working with the National Lottery, Heritage fund to expand our archive and help make this vision a reality’.
For more information:
Director: Dr Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh
More information on project can be found here: www.faoisat.com