Home rule book is launched at Braid

Author Philip Orr at the launch of his new book on the home rule era in Ballymena. Included are Jayne Olphert, Mid-Antrim Museum, Mayor Hubert Nicholl, Ballymena Times editor, Des Blackadder, introductory speaker, Shirin Murphy, Mid-Antrim Museum, and other guests.
Author Philip Orr at the launch of his new book on the home rule era in Ballymena. Included are Jayne Olphert, Mid-Antrim Museum, Mayor Hubert Nicholl, Ballymena Times editor, Des Blackadder, introductory speaker, Shirin Murphy, Mid-Antrim Museum, and other guests.

A new publication on the Home Rule Crisis as it played out in Ballymena was launched on Tuesday night at the Braid Museum & Arts Centre.

Published by Mid-Antrim Museum, New Perspectives: Politics, Religion and Conflict in Mid-Antrim 1911-1914 tells the story of Ballymena and its hinterland during a tense and troubled period.

The research for the publication was undertaken by author and historian Philip Orr who was commissioned by the Museum Service to explore this key period in our history through the use of unpublished source material from the museum’s collection, including a significant Ulster Volunteer Force Archive that was recovered from The Braid Water Spinning Mill.

The publication reveals the complexity of local politics, events and driving personalities; inter community and class relations, and attitudes to wider events including the build up to the Great War and the labour movement. Nationalist and pro- Home Rule aspirations expressed by local people living and working in Ballymena at the time are also highlighted. The text strives to show the way that both Unionism and Nationalism grew in self-confidence but also became increasingly militarised and the roots of contemporary polarisation brought to light.

It is with the potentially divisive coming years of political anniversaries in mind that this book has been written and it strives to be both honest and balanced as well as very readable.

Acting Curator of Mid-Antrim Museums Service Shirin Murphy said, ‘Mid-Antrim Museum seeks to explore contemporary issues of cultural and political identity through the creative use of the collections in its care. Working with Philip Orr provides a way for us to use the museum’s collection to make tangible connections with our past. It is hoped that this present study can encourage mutual understanding of our history and cultural heritage.’

In conjunction with the publication, the museum is also developing a new curriculum linked interactive e-learning website with reciprocal links to local school websites and the NEELB website. The website is due to launch in September 2012, allowing time to develop and market a planned seminar for local secondary schools. This will be the first of its kind to take an analytical approach to the contemporary relevance of local events 1911 -1914 in the centennial year of the signing of the Ulster Covenant in September 1912.

The book will be available for sale in The Braid Museum & Arts Centre Ballymena, Camerons, Ballymena and Carrickfergus Museum & Civic Centre. For further info please phone 028 25635977