Co Tyrone poet John Montague wrote:
“The whole landscape a manuscript
We had lost the skill to read,
A part of our past disinherited;
But fumbled, like a blind man,
Along the fingertips of instinct.“
“The Rough Field“ (1984)
The Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership aims to help us read our landscape and reconnect with it and the communities around the lough shore. Liam Campbell is employed as the Built and Cultural Heritage Officer and is just embarking on a number of heritage projects that are based on cooperation, collaboration and genuine partnership with community, voluntary and statutory groups.
These built and cultural heritage projects are simply about the places and people that matter all around us. They range from major new archaeological investigations that hope to throw light on our shared past such as the Aghagallon prehistoric site, conservation work at Mountjoy Castle, cultural education projects around WWII heritage or the history of the Lough Neagh Eel.
1. Increase our understanding of Lough Neagh’s unique built and cultural heritage through new research;
2. Repair and consolidate archaeological monuments or historic sites and enhance public access;
3. Connect local people to the heritage of the lough and increase understanding of past ways of life
4. Develop associated heritage skill-sets for local people.
These goals will be delivered through a series of nine projects: Archaeological Site Investigations; Exhibitions; Experimental Archaeology; Heritage Skills; Cultural Heritage; Schools; Publications and Media and Conservation and Access. Partnerships are being built with local councils, Department of Communities, Queens University and local communities.
The range of projects involve many elements that make up our understanding of heritage – some of our projects, whether they be in the form of skills learning, access, cultural education, restoration, conservation, conferences or publications will work on subjects as diverse as river gods, traditional boat building, crannog culture, WWII, Songs form the Lough shore, placenames, language, basket, line and rope making, graveyard surveys and the conservation of our iconic archaeological sites such as Ardboe and the mud walled houses of the lough shore and many more.
The scheme is also about the unique stories of the place and communities. One story to illustrate this is Mountjoy Castle, a community archaeological project involving the making of brick to be used in its conservation, the last master brick maker on these islands; Tony Mugridge visited recently to source local red clay to make and fire these bricks on site. With the help of the local community development group, Liam visited a few sites to source clay, interestingly, the name of the townland was Aughrimderg, meaning ‘field of red ridge’. Such a rich connection of built, natural and cultural heritage, the local knowledge, the local soil and local name.
There will be ample opportunities for people, young and old to get involved in these projects, it is crucial a have a two-way learning process for everyone involved. Participation can be in small ways such as attending one off courses, or larger volunteering opportunities such as archaeological investigations. The aim is to learn from each other, local knowledge is still the best, we have a great opportunity with this project to create a lasting legacy and to help us all work in, live in and appreciate this wonderful heritage rich landscape that is Lough Neagh.
If you have any ideas or knowledge that you want to share or get involved in any way, please get in contact with Liam Campbell
Tel: 028 7941 7941