A new exhibition which has captured testimonies from residents of a number of Belfast interface communities, separated by security barriers or “peace walls” was launched today at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).
The exhibition, 'Reflected Lives: Intergenerational Oral Histories of Belfast’s Peace Wall Communities' has been developed by the Belfast Interface Project and funded by a Heritage Lottery grant.
‘Reflected Lives’ is a unique oral history project that explores the everyday experiences of people living either side of interface barriers in Short Strand/ Inner East Belfast. Notably, the project is not just cross-community but inter-generational and uncovers stories of those who lived in a shared community before the peace walls were erected, those who were segregated as the walls were built and those who have never experienced life without them.
Stephen Scarth, Head of Public Services at PRONI said: “PRONI is delighted to launch and host the ‘Reflected Lives’ exhibition at PRONI. It is fitting that PRONI is the venue for this launch given our physical location in East Belfast, and the role we have in safeguarding and making accessible many historic documents and artefacts relating to the east Belfast community. We hold a number of collections of records which tell the social and industrial story of this community including Harland & Wolff, Sirocco and Bombardier (Short’s Brothers) in addition to papers relating to significant East Belfast families such as the father of CS Lewis and the Greaves family of Glenmachan House.
“I would encourage as many people as possible, particularly those from East Belfast and other interface areas, to visit us and view ‘Reflected Lives’. This is also a good opportunity to register as a PRONI visitor, and explore the archival heritage of the local area through the records we hold."
The exhibition highlights some of the key findings of the project and incorporates quotations from the oral history participants, a range of fascinating archival images, and a project ‘making of’ video. The exhibition also features an audio documentary about the interface area made by young people from Short Strand/ Inner East Belfast during media and journalism skills training at Bauer Academy at Cool FM.
The exhibition was launched by Joe O’ Donnell (Strategic Director, Belfast Interface Project), Tony McCusker (Heritage Lottery Fund) and Dr Anna Bryson (Oral History Consultant).
‘Reflected Lives’ will be available to view in the PRONI atrium from 11 - 17 April 2018