Mill Strand explore and share heritage with Argyll

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Thanks to the National Lottery’s Heritage Fund, Mill Strand Integrated Primary School is at the forefront of developing an exciting new resource, promoting our shared heritage with the Western Isles of Scotland, centred on Dunluce Castle.

The project explores shared cultural and historic identities with a particular focus on the Late Medieval period and 1500 to 1641 when Dunluce was in its prime. The project also looks at the centuries leading up to this period, with the Kingdom of Dalriada being central to the connection between the Western Isles and County Antrim. This has enhanced links with our local community ie, University of Ulster’s Colin Breen. It has inspired childrens learning.

Mill Strand’s partner school from Tayvallich are also undertaking this creative and innovative project to discover about their own history and how this has been linked with Ireland throughout the ages which was shared with us on our visit.

From April 22nd to 24th, 24 pupils from Year 6 and five staff and parents from Mill Strand Integrated Primary visited Tayvallich and the surrounding area of Argyll to explore historic sites, museums and worked with officials from the local community to help us explore our shared heritage. The visit gave the pupils the opportunity to learn how people lived, worked, survived and thrived in an ever changing political landscape and how the movement of people and shifts in power tied our regions together in a shared heritage that has helped form the world we live in today.

The project will culminate with an event at Dunluce Castle in early June, where other schools in the local area will be invited to share in the experience. It is hoped that the legacy of the work will be a learning resource that will enable others to share in the understanding of our shared heritage with the Scottish Isles and its West Coast. The Year 6 pupils from Mill Strand Integrated Primary in Portrush will host the event, working as story telling tour guides and helping facilitate a range of activities for visiting schools, including the partner school from Tayvillich in Scotland.

The National Lottery’s Heritage Fund has not only provided pupils from Mill Strand Integrated with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of their heritage, it has opened a window of opportunity for that shared heritage to be communicated and shared with the wider community. The lessons learned shed a new light on how we live today.

“I will never look at my local landscape in the same way, I will see a story behind the ruins of Dunluce and I love to share my experience with friends from other schools,” said one Year 6 pupil from Mill Strand Integrated Primary School.

Philip Reid, Principal of Mill Strand Integrated School, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, said: “We live in a society divided by religion and politics....we have learned this week that we have a greater shared heritage with the Scottish Isles and west coast than south of the lower Bann. The struggles for power have run through generations and once powerful castles, forts and seats of power now lie in ruins, overgrown by nature. We do not own the land we live on... we are a tiny dot in history and guardians of the land for a short time. Rather than fight over it we should look after it for the generations to follow.

“This project was a great way to celebrate our 25th anniversary as a fantastic oppurtunity to integrate with another school to find out a connection of history between Ireland and Scotland.

“A big thank you to the year 6 teacher Miss Helen McCambridge and the teaching staff at Tayvallich for all the hard work in delivering the project.”

‘All Our Stories’, is a brand new small grant programme, launched earlier this year in support of BBC Two’s The Great British Story - has been designed as an oppurtunity for everyone to get involved in their heritage. With HLF funding and support, community groups will carry out activities that help people explore, share and celebrate their local heritage.