One of 2013’s more innovative projects, the ‘History of Derry in 100 Objects’ exhibition, was launched this week by TV ‘s Lesser Spotted Culture presenter Joe Mahon and Mayor Martin Reilly at the newly restored Guildhall.
Organised by Derry City Council Heritage and Museum Service, the project sought to mark the City of Culture year with a selection of the most significant 100 objects submitted by members of the public - and the results are tremendous!
The ‘Derry Journal’ will feature some of the chosen 100 objects in both today’s and Tuesday’s editions - but ultimately, organisers hope that people will take the time to visit the exhibition sites and see the objects for themselves in places like Tower Museum, St Augustine’s Church, Museum of Free Derry, Derry Visitors Convention Bureau and even Austin’s Department Store.
Among the fascinating items nominated by local people are album covers, a chalice which is one of the oldest objects recorded, an old Spitfire engine and even a pair of roller-skates!
For more information please contact Bernadette Walsh on: 71 365151, extension 8251 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A limited edition catalogue that includes all objects and a map trail is available from the Guildhall, Tower Museum, Foyle Valley Museum and Workhouse Museum for just £1.
So here goes.. let us know what you think of the selection through our Derry Journal Facebook or Twitter: @derryjournal. Enjoy!
No. 1: A model ship made of bone
This beautiful, intricate model of a tall sailing ship made from whale bones is No.1 in the list of 100 Objects and was created by French prisoners interned in Derry during the Napoleonic Wars. Bernadette Walsh, who proposed it, says: “It is an object of quite remarkable beauty, and its story links the city with the Napoleonic Wars and the United Irishmen. It is incredible to think that this was made by French prisoners.”
No. 3: Civil Rights badge
The iconic Derry civil rights emblem was designed back in 1968 by local artist Sheila McClean. The oakleaf recognises the ancient origins of the city’s name Doire, an oakgrove, and black and white were used to represent all persuasions.
“This was a significant time for the city when people from different backgrounds came together to campaign for better housing, more jobs and the right to vote in local elections,” said Margaret Edwards in proposing it.
No. 7: Original locks and keys of the City Gates
Huge and impressive, these were used to lock the four entrances to the City in the 17th century, including the Shutting of the Gates by the Apprentice Boys in December 1688. “As a walled city the gates and locks are synonymous with the history of the city,” said Ian Bartlett who proposed it.
No. 10: Passenger List from Derry to Philadelphia
This old passenger list shows a James Mullan of Plumbridge, sailing on the ‘Superior’ from Derry to Philadelphia in 1853.
Local genealogist and regular ‘Journal’ contributor Brian Mitchell proposed this object for the list, explaining: “A passenger list is often a vital clue when researching family history, evidence of an ancestor leaving these lands.”
No. 15: Hand built model of an armoured RUC Landrover.
The model depicts a riot damaged vehicle attached to RUC Londonderry, mid 1990’s. Armoured Land Rovers have been used in NI since the mid 1970’s. They are uniquely Northern Irish and have evolved to become highly sophisticated machines. Tony Boyle, who both built this and proposed it, says: “I have an interest in armoured vehicles that have served in the NI conflict, I also scratch build models. These old grey ‘landys’ are synonymous with Derry’s troubled past.”
No. 18: Fr Edward Daly’s handkerchief
The bloodstained handkerchief which Fr Daly waved as he led the group carrying the dying Jackie Duddy out of the Bogside has become one of the most iconic images of the conflict and was listed in the ‘History of Ireland in 100 Objects’ a few years back. The hankie was proposed by both myself, ‘Journal’ reporter Julieann Campbell, and the Museum of Free Derry. “The handkerchief remained in the Duddy family, and Jackie’s sister Kay kept it with her during the campaign for justice. It was donated to the collection. She took it back for one day on 15 June 2010 as she read the report of the second Bloody Sunday Inquiry,” the Museum of Free Derry explained.
No. 22: Poster of Amelia Earhart’s journey
Aviation heroine Amelia Earhart was the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. She set off from Newfoundland on 20 May 1932, aiming her plane for Paris, and instead hit a field in Derry, known as Ballyarnett. This surprise landing broke world records and is still commemorated locally today. “She was one of the most significant women of the last century, and she has a link with the city that should be celebrated. She mysteriously disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean,” said Roisin Doherty who proposed the poster.
No. 26. Derry Journal poster from 1890
As Ireland’s second-oldest newspaper, the Derry Journal has, over the centuries, become a local institution. It was founded in 1772 as the ‘London-Derry Journal and General Advertiser’ - a four page paper costing one penny and reporting local and international news. Terence Peoples, who proposed this item, explained further: “Initially the paper adopted a Protestant editorial policy. However in 1829 the paper endorsed Catholic Emancipation leading to the then editor, William Wallen, resigning in protest to form the ‘Londonderry Sentinel and North West Advertiser’. The paper was renamed the ‘Derry Journal’ in 1880.”
No. 86. Sir Cahir O’Doherty’s sword
A magnificent sword currently on display at the Guildhall. O’Doherty became the Lord of Inishowen at the age of 13 and an ally to the British crown. However, the situation changed and he burned Derry to the ground in 1608. “This sword is the last physical representation of O’Doherty, the consequences of his rebellion had repercussions on the city we see today,” says Heather Taylor who proposed it.