As part of the ongoing and continuous work already undertaken within the Community Relations Programme between Clann Eireann YC (North Lurgan) and Lurgan Youth Annexe (Mourneview) young people from both clubs undertook a Residential Weekend staying at Downhill Youth Hostel just outside Coleraine.
Departing Lurgan on the Friday evening both groups travelled by minibus to this idyllic location which was right on the coast literally a stones throw from Downhill Beach. The main purpose of this residential was to further build on the extensive work already done in workshops over the past months. This gave the young people both boys and girls aged between 15-18yrs and staff alike an opportunity to further explore each others traditions and culture thus creating greater understanding and trust .
With this in mind both groups travelled into Derry-Londonderry taking in a Visit to The Apprentice Boys Hall were we where given a guided tour of The Apprentice Boys Museum which tells the story of The Siege of the City, this coupled with a guided tour of Derry’s-Londonderrys Walls gave all of those there a more comprehensive understanding of the complex history of the Maiden City. Partaking of lunch in a city cafe the entire group of staff and young people alike were glad to get indoors for a while “the famous Derry air being somewhat cold and indeed wet” Lunch over the group travelled to the Bogside to visit the Free Derry/Londonderry Museum and have a guided tour of the Murals and the story they told. During this visit the group heard a first hand account of the events of Bloody Sunday from John Kelly whose brother was shot dead on that terrible day. This was particularly apt as that weekend was the 40th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday. The group upon returning to Downhill enjoyed each others company with a meal in a local restaurant and then a visit to the cinema.
Both groups informed staff of how much they had enjoyed the day and both groups felt that they had gained a greater respect and understanding of the cultural issues of each others respective tradition and history both social and political. Sunday morning we departed Downhill for home visiting Derry-Londonderry City Centre to view and indeed cross the new “Peace Bridge”, travelling homeward via Omagh the young people had a chance to visit and indeed reflect at The Omagh Bomb Memorial.
This residential is just one of a number the two clubs working together will undertake in the months that lie ahead. None of this would have been possible without the support of each clubs respective Management Committees, the young people’s respective parents and The Dept of Foreign Affairs in Dublin for providing financial assistance for this programme. We are indebted to those mentioned for the support and confidence they place in us to promote and deliver this most important aspect of the Youth Service Curriculum.”