VR experiences will allow visitors to immerse themselves in history at the Foyle Maritime Festival

The North West’s special relationship with the sea and maritime culture is what makes the Foyle Maritime Festival a truly authentic experience and during this year’s celebrations, visitors will have the chance to find out more about some new and exciting opportunities to celebrate the fascinating history of the city and region.
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The Festival runs from July 20 to 24 and the City’s maritime heritage and the preservation of its rich marine environment are front and centre of the programme this year, with a range of activities and displays dedicated to capturing this unique story.

As plans progress for the much anticipated DNA (Derry on the North Atlantic) Museum in Ebrington Square, visitors can enjoy a sneak peak at some of the planned galleries, collections and interactive experiences planned for the state of the art new museum space.

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At the Maritime Festival Museum and Heritage Tent find out more about the hugely exciting project which showcases the history and heritage of the region, tracing a path through time since the first settlers travelled up the Foyle, thousands of years ago.

Immerse yourself in history at the Foyle Maritime FestivalImmerse yourself in history at the Foyle Maritime Festival
Immerse yourself in history at the Foyle Maritime Festival

The project has been years in the planning and DNA Programme Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Margaret Edwards, revealed that some of the new technologies to feature in the DNA museum will be showcased at the Festival.

“The DNA Museum captures the resilience of this special place over the centuries, our incredible industrial heritage and our shipping and emigration history, combined with the vital role the City played in global events such as the Second World War and the Civil Rights movement,” she explained.

“All of this has, over time, shaped the makeup of our people and established our strong sense of place and identity – which is what DNA is all about. We want to invite locals and diaspora alike to reconnect with these unique strands of our story and the impact it has had all around the world.

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“Visitors will also get a chance to experience some of the new technologies that will be on offer at DNA, including the new TIDE VR Experiences, funded by Interreg Atlantic Area. VR technology has given us a unique gift in that it allows us transport ourselves back to other eras, which we can recreate quite authentically using our archives and records, and in particular first accounts.”

The first experience visitors to the tent can immerse themselves in is ‘Afloat & Ashore’. It’s the name of one of many incredible accounts of transatlantic voyaging written by Patrick Maxwell, a solicitor who lived in the East Wall at the end of the 19th century, which were kindly loaned to the museum for digitisation by his family. The rich narration and descriptions of characters portrayed by local actors, along with detailed descriptions of Derry Quay, the journey on the steamship ‘The State of Nebraska’, and the amazing awe-inspiring account of viewing the Lights of New York, sum up the journeys of hundreds of thousands of emigrants who left these shores, never to return. Users can put on a VR headset and instantly transport themselves to a faithful recreation of the old port, right in the heart of the city, and take part in the virtual voyage of a lifetime.

The second VR experience captures the City’s naval story, taking a more ominous turn as it transports users back to the dangerous convoys bringing supplies to the Allies in 1918 at one of the most dangerous phases of the First World War. ‘Beware! Enemy Below!’ will instantly transport users into the shoes of a Royal Navy Lieutenant 1000 metres above sea level in a kite balloon, watching out for threats to the supply convoy from German U-boats and mines, as it nears the end of its long voyage from across the Atlantic around Malin Head into Lough Foyle.

There has been a lot of focus on the Second World War but the First World War convoys were also highly dangerous and the region played a major role in protecting them as they arrived in Lough Foyle - from airships from the North Coast to flying boats from Ture, to destroyers from Rathmullan in Lough Swilly. This experience promises to be action packed with a heightened sense of danger and was created in partnership with Donegal County Council and Devon County Council.

The Museum and Heritage Tent is open during the festival from 12pm to 7pm while the TIDE VR is open from 12pm to 6pm daily. Admission is free.

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