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Northern Ireland's 1968 and Beyond

As part of an ongoing collaboration between Chris Reynolds and National Museum’s Northern Ireland, a three-day event was held at Belfast’s Ulster Museum.

Chris Reynolds Belfast Voices of 68 Exhibition
NTU's Chris Reynolds at the 'Voices of 68' Ulster Museum Exhibition

On 11-13th October 2018, as part of an ongoing collaboration between NTU’s Chris Reynolds and National Museum’s Northern Ireland, a three-day event was held at Belfast’s Ulster Museum entitled ‘Northern Ireland’s 1968 and Beyond’.

Reynolds’ project with National Museum's Northern Ireland has evolved in three stages from an initial consultation on how this period is handled in the Ulster Museum’s permanent galleries, to the curation of an extended exhibition entitled ‘Voices of 68’ hosted at the Ulster Museum between 5th September - 15th October 2018. Two travelling versions of the exhibition have also been created and are currently touring to in excess of 25 destinations in the UK and Ireland, including, Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, London, Dublin, Cork, Manchester and Liverpool. Furthermore, a digital version of the exhibition is to be displayed at a number of events in the USA.

The event marked a high point for this project and would see the participation of 22 speakers across the three days. Day 1 was the fourth in a series of GCSE study days and saw the attendance of almost 200 local school pupils who were given a series of talks, a tour of the exhibition and galleries, as well as a discussion led by four protagonists from the period (speakers included Mike Nesbitt, Judith Jennings, Carole Tweedale and Mervyn Gibson).

A set of bespoke GCSE resources have been created in collaboration with the local curriculum that have been made available online to all schools covering this period. Day 2 saw two excellent sessions with 10 interviewees from right across the political and social spectrum discussing both their experiences and reflections on Northern Ireland’s 1968 (speakers included, Maurice Mills, Lord Paul Bew, Henry Patterson, Brid Rodgers, Anne Devlin, Erskine Holmes, Chris McGimpsey, Aidan McKinney, Fergus Woods and Nelson McCausland).

The day was opened with a talk on the global perspective of 1968 by Professor Robert Gildea from Oxford University and both sessions were chaired by Dr Nina Parish from the University of Bath. The event ended on Day 3 with two sessions dedicated to the significant – and all-too-often marginalised – role of Women in 1968 and beyond. These sessions, expertly compered by Susan McKay, brought together female activists from 1968 and from today and led to an excellent day of debate and discussion (speakers included, Margaret Ward, Anne Smyth, Brid Ruddy, Bernadette McAliskey (Devlin), Kellie Turtle, Bronagh Hinds, Marie Quiery and Eileen Weir).

Whilst this very successful event marked a culmination point, it is by no means the end of the road for the project. The exhibition tour continues with one version leaving the Irish Cultural Centre in London for the Luton Irish Forum, and the other version to be hosted at Belfast’s City Hall between 22nd - 26th October with accompanying events. Chris will continue his work on this project and notably has been invited to Harvard to speak about one particular element in November. In the long-term, Chris has laid the foundations for a sustainable, collaborative relationship with NMNI.

Published on 23 October 2018
  • Subject area: English, history and philosophy
  • Category: Research; School of Arts and Humanities