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European Heritage Open Days take place on the 13th and 14th of September and Newry and Mourne Museum (Bagenal’s Castle) will be joining with many historic properties that will be opening their doors and revealing their fabulous interiors for the public to enjoy.

 With the centenary of the First World War now upon us the Open Day at Newry and Mourne Museum on Saturday 13th September will focus on historical artefacts connected with the First World War and how to care for them.

Crimean veteran, Thomas Hanna and Lieut. Robert H. Hanna, V.C. pictured at Kilkeel in February 1918 (Courtesy of Kilkeel Branch of the British Legion).
Crimean veteran, Thomas Hanna and Lieut. Robert H. Hanna, V.C. pictured at Kilkeel in February 1918 (Courtesy of Kilkeel Branch of the British Legion).

Many individuals and families possess family documents and items of sentimental value which have been handed down through generations. 

Those with documents and items relating to the First World War and Irish history between 1912 and 1922 are asked to bring these along to the Conservation Day. They could relate, for instance, to the Home Rule crisis, the Ulster Volunteers and Irish Volunteers, the Easter Rising, the First World War, or the local impacts of the War of Independence, Irish Civil War, partition and the creation of Northern Ireland.

Staff from the Museum, National Museums Northern Ireland and Queen’s University, Belfast, will be on hand to provide guidance on the historical significance of items and how best to care for them. There will also be the opportunity to have items scanned or photographed so that they can be used in the Museum’s exhibitions and forthcoming online education resource on the First World War. 

There will be tours of the Museum building by a costumed guide (in First World War uniform) at 10:30am and 12 noon. The 10:30 a.m. tour will be taken by “Queenie McCann”, from Newry, who was a nurse and ambulance driver in the First World War and the 12 noon tour will be by “Robert Hill Hanna”, a Victoria Cross recipient born near Kilkeel.

A guided tour of the temporary exhibition on the “Local Impacts of the First World War” will be given at 2pm. This will give an insight into the themes explored and objects on display, as well as outlining how material is conserved and mounted before being exhibited.

The Conservation Day will close with a talk from 3pm–4pm by one of Ireland’s leading conservators, Sean Madden. Sean will explain the best methods of caring for historic items. He will explain how to protect them from the damage that heat, light, dust and insects can cause, as well as discussing how to handle them properly, and how to store and display them in a conservation-friendly manner.

Some of the most poignant pieces of memorabilia from the War are embroidered silk postcards sent home by serving soldiers to their families and sweethearts. In reflection of this, on Sunday 14th September the Museum has organised a free felt and silk workshop for adults, from 1:30pm – 5 pm, when local designer Sharyn Sloan will be on hand to help attendees design and make their own fantastic funky felt creations, incorporating hand painted silk to create a totally unique piece of art.

There is no cost to attend any of the activities and you can drop in any anytime during the Open Day. As numbers for the talks, tours and art workshop are limited, though, it is recommended that you book in advance to secure a place at one or more of these (T: 028 3031 3173 / 3178; Email: robert.whan@newryandmourne.gov.uk)

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