Last week over 70 people attended an event in Enniskillen, organised by Co Fermanagh Grand Orange Lodge as well as Churches in Fermanagh. Making History Talk – Understanding World War I was designed to help people listen to different viewpoints on historical events that affected life on this island, namely World War I.
The success of the event lay in asking two speakers to help understanding of what may have been going on the minds of both the Protestant/Unionist and Catholic/Nationalist at the time of World War I, and how those communities now view these events. People from every part of the community in Fermanagh listened to speakers describe the significance of that crucial time in history from very different perspectives.
Describing himself as a ‘Bogside Catholic’, former BBC journalist Paul McFadden reflected on some of the competing emotions that marked how the nationalist community reflected on World War I, both then and now.
Prof Roddy, a retired Professor of Psychology (QUB), set the events of World War I in historical context to shed light on what was going on in the mind of the Protestant community at the time. He also helped the audience understand the enduring significance of World War 1 in the Protestant psyche.
Following the presentations there was an opportunity for discussion and questions. This was facilitated by Rev Doug Baker, originally from the USA but now living in Belfast.
The public event is part of a Making History Talk series planned to reflect on key historical events from 1912 to 1922. The initiative grew out of a desire among the organizers to do something for the whole community. They came up with the idea of holding public events where people could reflect on key events during the deacde of historic commemorations, trying to understand how members of other communities might see them.
Bishop John McDowell, Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, describes the Making History Talk events as being about “helping each of us to try and understand what was going on in the mind not only of our own community but in the minds of the ‘other’ during key moments of our history – an attempt for each of us to walk in the other person’s shoes for a moment”.
Grand Master of County Fermanagh Grand Orange Lodge Stuart Brooker said, “It is a mark of confidence to voice our own views of history. It is an even bigger mark of confidence to take time to hear another person’s viewpoint on the same events. It is not about agreeing or disagreeing but about increasing understanding – this is the pathway to good neighbourliness”.
Making History Talk – Understanding World War I arose out of dialogue that has taken place between County Fermanagh Grand Orange Lodge, the Church of Ireland diocese of Clogher, as well as Enniskillen Methodists and Presbyterians. The event took place on 30th September in the Westville Hotel, Enniskillen.
Photo (L to R): Mr Stuart Brooker (Grand Master of Co Fermanagh Grand Orange Lodge), Rev Doug Baker, Mr Paul McFadden, Bishop John McDowell, Prof Roddy Cowie)