About the Project

The 3 Villages Living Memories Project was officially begun on 28 October 2013. This followed confirmation of a successful application to GROW South Antrim for funding under Axis 3 of the current Rural Development Programme. Additional match funding was generously provided by Newtownabbey Borough Council, Antrim Borough Council and Carrickfergus Borough Council.

The project has involved the communities of Doagh, Toome and Whitehead and the areas immediately surrounding these three villages. It has also been dependant on a huge voluntary commitment from the organisations responsible for the management, administration and delivery of the project, namely Doagh Ancestry Group, TIDAL (Toome Industrial Development, Amenities and Leisure Group) and Whitehead Community Centre.

The 3 Villages Living Memories Project has proved to be an exciting, challenging and worthwhile initiative which, we believe, has been of great benefit to those communities involved. It has provided an invaluable resource for those wishing to learn more about the social and economic conditions of life within their communities during the early and mid twentieth century.

The initial aims of the project were straightforward:

  • To build better links and understanding between people from different generations and the three village communities here in South Antrim
  • To develop new contacts and friendships
  • To investigate similarities and differences in experience
  • To record and archive the personal memories and experiences of some of the more senior members of the three communities who are representative of a variety of social and cultural backgrounds
  • To make freely available this knowledge and experience, through print, digital format and on the internet. This will enable as wide a cross-section of people as possible to learn from the great wealth of knowledge which has been recorded and presented.
  • To establish a model which would better enable the practice of listening to, recording and collecting people’s stories and experiences for future use as a community, inter-generational resource.
Although the project was hugely dependant on an extensive voluntary commitment, the funding did enable the employment of a researcher, writer and co-ordinator, Dr William Roulston of the Ulster Historical Foundation. This facilitated the local volunteers to increase and develop the necessary capacity which is so essential in collecting, collating and presenting local research material. Specialist training in oral history techniques was provided by Dr Jonathan Hamill. The book, website and exhibition designers, Glen Rodgers and Mark Thompson taught us much about the necessity for clear, concise, visually attractive and easily accessible presentation of written and visual material and finally, Chris Nelson who, in compiling and editing such stunning and effective video presentations, demonstrated the great effectiveness of this medium.

Hopefully the project will indeed continue into the future. Those volunteers who were privileged enough to meet with, share and to record the interviewees’ stories and experiences were deeply moved and are determined to continue to build the wonderful resource so far created.

We believe that there is an urgent need for the collection and preservation of these memories for future generations. We will be forever grateful to those who were prepared to share with us such personal aspects of their lives and the lives of their past generations. Time passes so quickly and we have reflected, with regret, that many of us did not avail of the opportunity to ask our own parents to share their memories; memories that may have perhaps been lost forever with the passage of time.

Unfortunately three of the people who were gracious enough to allow us to interview them and to record their memories have since passed away, Mr Robert McConnell of Doagh, Mr Cahal Boyd of Toome, and Mr P. J. (Paddy) O'Donnell of Whitehead. The 3 Villages Living Memories Project has at least enabled some of their past experiences to be placed on record and their voices, personally recalling these, can now be permanently available to their families and friends. For those of us involved in the project, this poignant fact alone has made the initiative so worthwhile.

Bob Adams
Chair, Doagh Ancestry Group

South Antrim Living Memories Project wishes to acknowledge the assistance of: