As the Robinson Library is hosting a talk on the evening the History Group normally meets we have decided to forego organising a meeting this month and accept the Robinson Library’s kind invitation to join them.
The talk is by Professor Michael Burton, Director of Armagh Observatory and Planetarium and is part of the celebration of 50 years since the Planetarium was first opened.
The May meeting will be held on 9th May at 7:00 p.m. in the Irish and Local Studies Library.
Our speaker will be one of our own members Gerry Oates, his topic is ‘The Brehon Laws: Women and Marriage’.
Apparently under Brehon Law, there were between three and ten forms of marriage, each diminishing in importance, legal rights and desirability and sorted by degrees.
A first degree union takes place between partners of equal rank and property.
A second degree union in which a woman has less property than the man and is supported by him.
A third degree union in which a man has less property than the woman and has to agree to management of the woman’s cattle and fields by someone from her family.
A fourth degree union is the marriage of the loved one in which no property rights changed hands, though children’s rights are safeguarded.
A fifth degree union is the mutual consent of the man and woman to share their bodies, but live under separate roofs.
A sixth degree union in which a defeated enemy’s wife is abducted. This marriage was valid only as long as the man could keep the woman with him.
A seventh degree union is called a soldier’s marriage and is a temporary, primarily sexual union.
An eighth degree union occurs when a man seduces a woman through lying, deception or taking advantage of her intoxication.
A ninth degree union is a union by rape.
A tenth degree union occurs between feeble-minded or insane people.
Our April meeting will be on 11th April at 7:00 p.m. in the Irish and Local Studies Library.
The speaker will be Dr Myrtle Hill and the title of her talk will be ‘Seeking justice in a changing world: the life, times and example of Mary Ann McCracken’.
Born in Belfast in 1770, her father was Captain John McCracken, a Ulster Scot Presbyterian and a prominent shipowner; her mother Ann Joy, came from a French Protestant Huguenot family, which made its money in the linen trade and founded the Belfast News Letter. Mary Ann’s liberal and far-sighted parents sent her to David Manson’s progressive co-educational school, where ‘young ladies’ received the same education as the boys.
She was the sister of Henry Joy McCracken one of the founding members of the United Irishmen Society who was executed in Belfast in 1798. After Henry’s execution in 1798, she and her sister Margaret opened a muslin manufacturing business at 27 Waring Street, Belfast.
She died in 1866 at the age of 96 years, and is buried in Clifton Street cemetery
Our February Meeting will be on Wednesday, 14th March at 7:00 p.m.
The speaker this month will be Roddy Hegarty, Director of the Cardinal O’Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive, and his topic will be Irish Postal History.
Like many aspects of our everyday life the Post Office and the delivery of mail is something that almost occurs unnoticed, so seldom do we give it a thought. However, this sophisticated system of collections and deliveries ensures that life for many people and businesses goes on uninterrupted. We often only miss the service when it is suspended. This talk retraces the stages through which the modern postal system has evolved and will seek to explain the various contributions that were made throughout its history that brought us to where we are today.
The post box used to illustrate this page is a cast-iron wall box of the V R Type, located at Dromod Station, Co Leitrim.
Our February Meeting will be on Wednesday, 14th February at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will start with the AGM followed by a talk by Tom Duncan and his topic is “The Earls of Leitrim”.
Earl of Leitrim was a title created in 1795 for Robert Clements, 1st Viscount Leitrim in the Irish peerage.
His father Nathaniel Clements acquired the lease of the lands in Kilmacrenan in 1748 from the Hamilton family who held the lease from the turn of the plantation of Ulster. The lands were owed by Trinity College Dublin and covered most of north east Donegal, from Fanad to Glenveagh. Nathaniel Clements built his home in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, which was later purchased by the Irish Government and is the home of the president of Ireland.
His descendants were involved, once fatally, in many of the major issues of their times, notably the famine and the Land Act.
There were five Earls in all, the 5th Earl died without issue in 1952 and the Earldom of Leitrim died with him.
Our January meeting will be held on Wednesday, 10th January at 7:00 pm in the Irish and Local Studies Library. The speaker will be Megan Henvey and her topic is The High Cross of Armagh.
Megan is a graduate teaching assistant at the University of York, she is currently researching the high crosses in the North of Ireland for her PhD. Her research examines the iconography, history and theological import of these monumental early medieval stone sculptured crosses within their wider cultural contexts.
There will be no December meeting this year. We usually launch the magazine on the second Wednesday in December but this year the magazine was launched in the Palace by the Lord Mayor, Gareth Wilson on 4th December. Our next meeting will be on Wednesday, 10th January 2018.
The November meeting of Armagh & District History Group will be held on Wednesday, 8th November in the Irish and Local Studies Library at 7:00 p.m.
The speaker will be one of our members, Tom Duncan and his topic: ‘The man from God knows where.’ A poem that tells some of the story of Thomas Russell, who organised in County Down for the United Irishmen in 1795. Thomas Russell was later hanged at Downpatrick Jail on 21st October 1803.
The October meeting of Armagh & District History Group will be held on Wednesday, 11th October in the Irish and Local Studies Library at 7:00 p.m.
The speaker this month is Chris Hamill, a researcher at the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge who is currently investigating the issue of contested architectural heritage in contemporary Northern Ireland. His subject of research is Armagh Gaol and the title of his talk is ‘Troubled Legacy: the difficult history of the prison and its impact on re-use’.
The talk will centre around his research into the history of the former HM Prison Armagh, situating it in the relevant contexts; primarily the architectural and cultural evolution of prisons generally, the development of the urban fabric of Armagh itself and the political contexts which make this building perhaps more interesting as a heritage asset than simply its architectural merits would imply.
This would then segue into a discussion on the issue of ‘contested heritage’ that is; issues surrounding the re-use of buildings such as this which have difficult and troubled pasts. This would be in conjunction with the architectural difficulties which arise from trying to find alternate uses for a building form as specialised as a prison.
It is hoped that there might be a bit of a question and answer / debate session after this, as with this sort of work, it is always extremely useful to get feedback, especially from local experts.
The monthly meetings of Armagh & District History Group will resume on Wednesday, 13th September in the Irish and Local Studies Library at the earlier time of 7:00 p.m.
Those who attended the June meeting will recall that we had a very interesting talk by Dr Pauline Prior on ‘Gender, crime and mental disorder in 19th century Ireland’.
Dr Prior has kindly agreed to return to deliver the September talk on the same theme, ‘Guilty but insane: the cases of Mary Reilly 1887 and Dr Terence Brodie 1886’.
Dr Pauline Prior, BSocSc, MSc (Econ), DPhil, CQSW, taught Social Policy at Queens University Belfast for twenty years. Her first degree, in Sociology and Social Policy, was gained at University College Cork. Before joining academia, she worked as a community development worker in Zambia and Ethiopia, and as a social worker in Northern Ireland. She holds an MSc (Econ) and a social work qualification from the London School of Economics and a DPhil (on mental health policy in Northern Ireland) from York University, England.
Her research covers different aspects of mental health policy, including gender, law, and historical trends in mental health services in Ireland. She has published six books – Mental Health and Politics in Northern Ireland (Avebury, 1993); Gender and Health Care in the UK: Exploring the Stereotypes (with B. Hayes) (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2003); Globalisation and European Welfare States: Challenges and Change (edited with R. Sykes and B. Palier) (Palgrave, 2001); Gender and Mental Health (Macmillan Press, 1999); Madness and Murder: Gender, Crime and Mental Disorder in nineteenth century Ireland (Irish Academic Press, 2008); Asylums Mental Health Care and the Irish: Historical Studies 1800-2010 (edited collection, Irish Academic Press, 2012).