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Living Legacies

Date: 19/05/2014

A new play about the Belfast men who fought at the Somme and Passchendale opens to the public later this week to mark the launch of the 'Living Legacies' World War One Engagement Centre.

The 'Living Legacies' Engagement Centre is one of five centres in the UK. Its aim is to support community, academic and public research into the Great War as part of the upcoming centenary commemorations. A key focus of the new centre at Queen's will be to provide advice and support for community research projects on the war, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and through a range of Heritage Lottery Fund programmes, as part of its 'First World War: Then and Now' scheme. The centres form part of the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by Imperial War Museum.

Entitled 'Living Legacies 1914-1918: From Past Conflict to Shared Future', the new research centre based at Queen's will be hosted at the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities (ICRH) and with the University of Ulster and National Museums Northern Ireland. The centre is headed up by Dr Keith Lilley of the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen's.

The public launch of the centre takes place at 6pm on Monday, May 19 at the Conor Lecture Theatre, in the University of Ulster's Belfast campus at York Street. The launch will include a lecture by Professor Richard Grayson, the author of Belfast Boys: How Unionists and Nationalists Fought and Died Together in the First World War, as well as a short performance from The Medal In The Drawer.

The play about the Belfast men, The Medal In The Drawer, by Brenda Winter-Palmer, a lecturer in Drama Studies at Queen's, tells the story of her great-uncle, William Kerr and his neighbours from the Springfield Road area of Belfast, who volunteered with the 36th Ulster Division back in 1914. It also charts the experience of Nationalists from that area who joined the Connaught Rangers.

The play, which is performed and produced by students at the School of Creative Arts at Queen's, is set against the larger context of threatened civil war in Ireland as nationalists and unionists come head to head over the proposed introduction of Home Rule- a crisis that is averted by the outbreak of war in Europe.

The Medal In The Drawer runs from Friday, May 16 to Sunday, May 18 at the Brian Friel Theatre at Queen's. There is a further performance of part of the play at the official launch of the 'Living Legacies' Engagement Centre on Monday, May 19.

Playwright Brenda Winter-Palmer, who is the Community Outreach Officer for the new centre, said her drama tied in with many of its themes, including the long shadow cast by the First World War once Irish soldiers returned home. She said: My play is not only an act of commemoration for all those Belfast men who died in the First World War. It is also a reflection on which parts of history a divided society chooses to remember and which parts it chooses to forget.

Dr Keith Lilley said: Connecting academic and public histories, the 'Living Legacies 1914-18' Engagement Centre will explore the enduring cultural impacts of the conflict and First World War heritage. Exploring the complex and sometimes divided loyalties of Irish men and women at the time, The Medal In The Drawer is a dramatic and moving way to mark the launch of our centre here in Belfast.

For further information on the Living Legacies 1914-18 Engagement Centre, see the Living Legacies website.

For further information contact Queen's University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3087 email: comms.office@qub.ac.uk


Notes to editors

  • Dr Keith Lilley and Brenda Winter-Palmer are both available for interview. Interview bids to theQueen's University Communications Office, Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 3087 email: comms.office@qub.ac.uk
  • For further information from the AHRC, please contact Danielle Moore-Chick on 01793 41 6021 or d.moore-chick@ahrc.ac.uk
  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. www.ahrc.ac.uk
  • Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has already supported £46million of First World War projects from across the United Kingdom and will continue to support as many applications as we can afford that want to commemorate the centenary.
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