Schools echo to sound of ‘lost voices’

A Dromore charity is getting out into the town’s schools as it presses ahead with a project to preserve local

history and the personal tales of older residents.

‘Dromore Lost Voices’ is a Heritage Lottery and Arts Council funded community history project lanched by Via Wings, who will this week kick off a two-part schools programme at Dromore Central Primary School.

“The project aims to collect and preserve Dromore’s history by recording the personal stories of the people of Dromore,” said the project’s Mary McKee. ”We aim to increase accessibility to local history through creating an interactive website dedicated to the town.

“Finally, we are using all the information we collect to create a unique and creative experience for students to engage with local history.

This week’s launch of the schools programme will see two representatives of Dromore Lost Voices, trained educators Mary McKee and Seaneen Bell, both of whom have worked within the heritage sector, work on four short plays with the P7 class at Dromore Central.

Said Mary, “We have used the oral history testimonies, local history records and old copies of The Leader to create four short plays focusing on Dromore and the First World War,Dromore and the Banbridge Workhouse, Dromore and the Second World War and the Linen Industry in the town. “Each class will be tasked with bringing our scripts to life from creating the set designs to encouraging their fellow students as actors.”

The second part of the programme will take the project to P6 and P7 pupils at St Colman’s Primary School.

“Over the course of three days we will create mosaic artworks reflecting the town’s history,” said Mary. “During this project I will teach the students local history while local artist Karen Ogle will be assisting the students with creating the displays.

“We hope to use this opportunity as a unique way to provide a positive contact between the school and the community.

Anyone interested in the project is asked to contact Via Wings.

“We are asking for more volunteers to assist with the collection of oral histories,” said Mary. “The stories of the older residents are valuable and need to be preserved for future generations.

“We are also seeking photographs or memorabilia about the town which we can use on the new public website. Later this year, on Saturday 3 May, Via Wings’ Olive Branch cafe in the square will host a Dromore Lost Voices open day to exhibit some of the found photographs, created artwork and demonstrate the new Dromore history website.”