Look out Indiana Jones, because there is a team of young, adventurous would-be archaeologists from Strathfoyle just waiting to take your place.
Hollywood reference aside, on Tuesday morning in the Strathfoyle library the young people of Enagh Youth Forum (E.N.Y.) launched a project focused on celebrating the heritage and history of the area.
The programme is called ‘Enagh Young Roots Project’ and will cover a wide variety of history including the Ice Age, early monastic settlements, the O’Cahans and right through to World War II.
The event was attended by Foyle M.P. Mark Durkan, the Mayor of Derry, councillor Kevin Campbell and members of the Templemore Archaeological Society who carried out the re-enactment of a Bronze Age burial.
“It’s an amazing project for the young people of this area to be involved with,” said Shauna Baldrick from E.N.Y.
E.N.Y. wrote to Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ show to invite them to excavate the area and to help local people to discover the true extent of their past.
Unfortunately, due to budget constraints the television programme was unable to accept E.N.Y.’s invitation.
“This just made us even more determined to come up with something that focused on the history of the greater Enagh area,” said E.N.Y. member Holly Collins.
Faced with the fact that ‘Time Team’ could not commit to a project near Enagh Lough, the young people of E.N.Y. set about seeking the support of Derry City Council, the Beam Centre, Maydown Community Centre and the local primary school, St. Oliver Plunkett’s P.S.
E.N.Y also teamed up with the Templemore Archaeological Society and worked with young people aged between 18 and 21.
“This was really how it all started,” explained Holly.
“After a while we started involving school children from St. Oliver Plunkett’s P.S. and the reception the project got was exceptional.”
Initially, E.N.Y. ran the project as a pilot but soon after it started to gather momentum they received news that the Heritage Lottery Fund had decided to award them funding to the tune of £32,000.
“It means that we will be able to deliver the Enagh Young Roots Project over a year,” said Shauna.
“There’s literally history on our doorstep and it’s also a project that everyone, no matter their age or background, can get involved in,” she said.
Martin McDonald, Heritage Lottery Fund - Northern Ireland committee, said he was impressed with the enthusiasm of the young people for the project and added that the Heritage Lottery Fund was delighted to have been able to give the group the funds they needed.
“Perhaps the most important aspect of the Enagh Young Roots Project is that it’s led by the youth of Enagh Youth Forum.
“Many people have the misconception that all the Heritage Lottery Fund does is give money to help redevelop old buildings or museums - this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We are interested in all kinds of heritage projects - especially ones where young people are taking such a passionate interest in the history and heritage of their area.”
The vice-principal of St. Oliver Plunkett’ P.S. Peter Monaghan said he was proud of school’s involvement with the project and added that it had created a “history buzz’.
“A number of our pupils went on the Enagh Young Roots Project field trips. They were able to excavate around the banks of Enagh Lough.
“One of our pupils, a little girl called Evelina, found what we think was a Mesolithic stone - we think it was 6,000 or 7,000 years old.
“It was remarkable to think that a man or woman could have had the stone in their hand in the exact same spot thousands of years ago and then in 2012 a little girl picks it up on the banks of Enagh Lough - it literally was history in our hands,” he said.
Martin McCartney, chairperson of Maydown Community Association (M.C.A.) said that ‘Enagh Young Roots Project’ was an example of different age groups can work together towards a shared goal.
“It’s projects like this that can link generations and it’s great to be involved in this partnership project; it dovetails neatly into the ongoing work of M.C.A. which to date has produced two living history book publications working in partnership with local groups in Strathfoyle, Yesteryears and Maydown Memories.
“The Enagh Young Roots Project is a unique project involving young people exploring the history and archaeology of Enagh and we are all really looking forward to what we know will be a very exciting 12 months.”
Hayley McAdams, (Business in the Community) BEAM Centre Maydown said it is their intention to offer the use of their building as exhibition space once the project is properly up and running.
“On behalf of all of us at the Beam Centre we wish the Enagh Young Roots Project every success over the next 12 months and we will be on board to lend our support throughout the life of the project as well as providing gallery and exhibition space in our new BEAM Centre at Maydown.”
For more information on the ‘Enagh Young Roots Project’ contact the group on 02871 860 377.