A cross-community partnership between Clann Eireann Youth Club (North Lurgan) and Lurgan Youth Annexe (South Lurgan) facilitated an educational study visit to Dublin for 20 young people from the 4th-6th May. This visit was a follow from a previous residential weekend to Derry/Londonderry which provided both groups of young people with opportunities to explore culture, history and traditions of Protestant and Catholic communities. Young people participating in the programme have completed an OCN in Shared History facilitated by youth workers and volunteers from both youth centres.
The residential was a great success and proved very informative and challenging. Young people then visited Kilmainham Jail on the Saturday for a guided tour which highlighted the history of the jail from 1916-1922 at the time of the Easter Rising. During the tour of Kilmainham Jail the young people explored a very turbulent period in Irish/British history which was presented by the tour guide. Objectively, the study visit was planned to highlight connections between British and Irish politics and allow the young people to reflect on the recent visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland. During Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s time in Ireland she visited many historical sites, such as, Grangegorman British Military Cemetery accompanied by President McAleese. Within the cemetery are the remains of Irishmen and women who fought in the British Armed Forces during the First and Second World wars. Many of the young people seemed surprised that this cemetery existed and is held in such high regard and respect within the Republic of Ireland. This particular site visit was a very evident and visible example of the complex relationships and allegiances existing between Britain and Ireland as part of our “shared history”.
Other places of interest visited included the Seat of the British Administration in Ireland (1920-22) in Dublin Castle. Young people were given the opportunity to undertake viewings of the Dublin Castles state apartments which included the Throne Room and famous St Patrick’s Hall where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II addressed a large number of invited guests at a state dinner and even spoke a few words in the Irish language (Gaelic). St Patrick’s Hall is also used for the inauguration of all Presidents of Ireland. This ended a busy and informative day with the young people visiting The Abbey Theatre to see a very entertaining show.
On the Sunday they visited Arbour Hill Cemetery to view the national monument and burial place of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation who were executed in The Stone breakers yard at Kilmainham Jail. Moving on from Arbour Hill the young people went to the Garden of Remembrance where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and President McAleese laid wreaths in memory of those who fought for Irish freedom. Next stop was to the home of Gaelic games, Croke Park, which proved a thoroughly enjoyable tour for all the young people especially those from Lurgan Youth Annexe many of whom was their first visit to this very impressive stadium. This visit again allowed the group to learn about the Gaelic tradition in a respectful and educational way.
On the journey back to Lurgan they stopped to visit the site of the largest battle site in Ireland, the Boyne Valley. The Exhibition museum at the Boyne included old battle uniforms, guns and excellent audio visual presentations allowed tour guides to set the context of the Battle of the Boyne highlighting the outcomes which remain to influence society today. Staff and young people then enjoyed a meal together in The Canal Court Hotel before arriving home at their respective clubs in Lurgan.
All young people who participated have shown leadership and respect throughout the programme. Consistent attendance demonstrated evidence of their motivation to work towards developing a shared future for everyone in Lurgan through community engagement. Thanks must be given to Department of Foreign Affairs (ROI), SELB Youth Service for their continued support and to respective parents/guardians of the young people who participated.