Omagh group step back in time on study visit
A one hundred-strong group from Omagh have enjoyed a fact-finding visit to the Battle of the Boyne site and museum in Drogheda.
The members of Hospital Road Community Group and Blair Memorial Band travelled to the historic location on a trip facilitated by the EU Peace III funded Building Relationships in Communities (bric) Programme, a unique partnership between the Rural Development Council, Housing Executive and Tides Training.
The day-long visit brought the group up close and personal to the sights and sounds of one of the pivotal events in Northern Ireland history and gave the participants a valuable insight into the facts and personalities at the heart of it all.
As well as the information imparted by the tour guides, the group were also kept informed by Hospital Road resident John Hall who explained the significance of the 26 acre field on the Co. Louth side of the River Boyne. Mr Hall related how the field is known as the crossing field and in it King William's troops had erected an obelisk to celebrate participating in the battle. Although the obelisk itself was blown up in 1922, the group made a short detour to visit the site of the obelisk.
The group also enjoyed participating in a ‘Flags Quiz’ activity that not only tested their knowledge but also helped demonstrate the changing face of loyalist and republican communities.
Gordon Spratt, Chairperson of Hospital Road Community Association, said:
“Our trip to the Boyne Museum has been fascinating and helped give many of us a much better understanding of just what took place here.
“On behalf of the group I would like to thank the bric Programme and Housing Executive for making this visit possible and we look forward to working further with them and developing this relationship in the coming weeks and months.”
Hospital Road Community Group is just one of almost 90 groups currently participating in the bric Programme across Northern Ireland. The initiative aims to cultivate and improve good relations in social housing areas and provides a range of services including mediation, training, social events and re-imaging projects.
Kerry McIvor, bric Programme Manager, said:
“Study visits like this help give communities a greater insight into our shared history and are crucial in improving social cohesion at grassroots levels.
“Improving and maintaining Good Relations is an integral component of the bric Programme and we are very excited to be able to support Hospital Road Community Group and the people it serves.
“Through our working partnership with the Housing Executive and Tides Training, the bric Programme is currently active across Northern Ireland and strives to enhance community relations, improve the environment of local areas, and benefit local residents.
Marilyn Giboney, Housing Executive Good Relations Officer, said:
“The Housing Executive is delighted to be associated with the bric Programme and welcome visits like this as they provide residents with real insights into historical events and personalities which have had major impacts on history.
“The bric Programme strives to improve community spirit by creating neighbourliness and inclusiveness in all aspects of community life. This is achieved by building relationships and understanding through packages specifically tailored to suit each group involved.”