Category Archives: Events

What’s happening

June Meeting

Our June meeting will take place on Wednesday, 14th June in the Irish and Local Studies Library at the usual time of 7:30 p.m.

Our speaker will be Dr. Pauline Prior who along with our January speaker, Dr Elaine Farrell contributed to the Mad or Bad exhibition held earlier in the year at Armagh County Museum. The exhibition explored mental health, crime and gender in Ireland during the last half of the nineteenth century. Her talk is titled “Gender, crime and mental disorder in 19th century Ireland”.

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).

May Meeting

Our May meeting will take place on Wednesday, 10th May in the Irish and Local Studies Library at the usual time of 7:30 p.m. This month instead of our usual talk we will be having a light-hearted, informal quiz on People, Places and Events pertaining to Armagh and District.

There will be no prizes and no one will be under any pressure as the idea is for an enjoyable evening.

To whet your appetite does anyone know where this object is situated?

“On a grassy verge”, while correct, is not an acceptable answer.

April Meeting

Our April meeting will take place on Wednesday, 12th April in the Irish and Local Studies Library at the usual time of 7:30 p.m.

The speaker is Keith Haines and his talk is entitled “The Macans of Armagh, at home and in India”.  The central focus of the talk will be on Turner Macan (1792-1836) of Carrive, (pictured opposite in a contemporary painting by George Chinnery) but will also include the full dynasty.  A memorial to Turner Macan was erected by his widow in the Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh.  The family connection to Armagh is maintained today through the Macan Trust for the Blind, whose purpose is to provide financial assistance to organisations in Armagh City and surrounding district who support the blind in their local communities. Some of you may remember the Macan Asylum for the Blind on Cathedral Road.

Keith was formerly Head of History at Campbell College (1977-2000) and then Archivist (2000-2015).
He also served on the management committee of, and as Hon Treasurer of, the Federation for Ulster Local Studies from c.1995-2007. He has written a number of books, including a biography of Turner Macan.

March Meeting

Our March meeting will take place on Wednesday, 8th March in the Irish and Local Studies Library at the usual time of 7:30 p.m.

The speaker will be Dr John Butler,  Emeritus Research Astronomer at Armagh Observatory and the title of his talk is “Armagh Observatory in Four Centuries”.

John has worked in the Observatory for four decades and among other projects has written a short history of the observatory.

AGM + February Meeting

Our February meeting will take place on Wednesday, 8th February in the Irish and Local Studies Library at the usual time of 7:30 p.m.

The meeting will begin with our Annual General Meeting followed by a talk by Gerry Oates entitled ‘The Corvans of Armagh’ – An illustrated talk on this family of Armagh origin beginning in the late medieval period and tracing the fortunes of various Corvans /Corvins and Corvens up to the early 20th century.  Including “Cat Gut Jim” pictured here.

January Meeting

Our January meeting will take place on Wednesday, 11th January in the Irish and Local Studies Library at the usual time of 7:30 p.m.

The speaker will be Dr Elaine Farrell from the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s University. The title of her talk is “‘She was large in the family way a week before the fair’: The infant murder mystery in Markethill”.

Elaine contributed to the Mad or Bad exhibition currently on show at Armagh County Museum which explores mental health, crime and gender in Ireland during the last half of the nineteenth century. The exhibition focuses on how and why women who had committed crimes were treated differently from men.

December Meeting

The December meeting of the Armagh & District History group will be held in the Irish and Local Studies Library on Wednesday, 14th at 7.30pm.

The Lord Mayor will be present to launch the latest edition of History Armagh at the meeting so please come along to collect your copy (free for members) and enjoy a light supper with tea, coffee or a glass of wine!

November Meeting

The Life and Times of Constable Charles (Charlie) McGee R.I.C.

charles-mcgee-ric Dr Méadhbha Ní Bhaoill is our speaker on 9th November, she is the grand-niece of Charlie McGee and is due to publish the story of his life and death as part of the 1916-2016 County Louth Commemorative Programme.

The following text sets the scene for her talk.

Many historical accounts have been written on the military aspects of the 1916 Rising in County Louth and on the participation of members of the Louth Volunteers in that event. However, there is a paucity of information on Constable Charles McGee who was fatally wounded in the village of Castlebellingham, County Louth on Easter Monday evening at approximately 7.30 p.m. It is somewhat ironic that a native Irish speaker from Donegal was to be the first member of the Royal Irish Constabulary to die in the Rising. The account reveals the complexities of Irish history and the network of relationships that linked counties Donegal, Louth and Antrim in 1916.

It is fortunate that Constable McGee’s story and the 100 years’ of society’s refusal to acknowledge the memory of members of the R.I.C., is finally being recognised in the inclusive 2016 Centenary Commemorative Programme.

October Meeting

Our next meeting will be held on 12th October in the Armagh County Museum at 7:30 p.m. As mentioned elsewhere on this site this new exhibition “Mad or Bad” is opening on October 4th at Armagh County Museum, and for our October meeting the history group will get a talk and guided tour of the exhibition by Sean Barden, the Curatorial Services Officer at the Museum.

The exhibition explores the history of crime, gender and mental illness in late nineteenth century Ireland, and will run until 18th February 2017.

joemckiernan_withtextThe topic is a difficult but fascinating one with a special relevance to Armagh because both the County Jail and District Lunatic Asylum (both now closed) were situated in the city.

Armagh Courthouse also played a part in this story because many of the decisions made at trials were influenced by the defendant’s sanity or gender. These life and death factors were always present but not always obvious.

The museum has used objects from its own collections as well as loans from other museums and archives to illustrate this challenging subject. Many of the items on display have poignant and often tragic stories to tell.

annebeech_withtextArmagh Jail was often the final destination for those that had broken the law and faced trial. Others less fortunate were sent to the gallows. However there was a third alternative; the Lunatic Asylum.

The exhibition addresses the question of why the accused’s gender and not just the nature of their crime often determined if they ended up in an asylum, prison or on the gallows.

The museum is working closely with staff and students from Queens University Belfast to research particular cases using original convict photos as a starting point. Each photograph is a tangible link to a lives lived in an era when law breaking often had life changing consequences.

The photos of the two above convicts appear by kind permission of Northern Ireland Prisons Museum, the copyright holders

September Meeting

Our monthly meeting took a different form in September with an outing on Friday 16th.
The outing was to Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin in the morning and to the Boyne Visitor Centre in the afternoon followed by an evening meal in the Lisdoo Arms, Dundalk

History Group and friends
History Group and friends

Photos from the trip, click on an icon to see the full picture