A County Armagh soldier, one of the first to die at the Battle of the Somme, will feature alongside a key figure in the Easter Rising in a project to educate young people of key historic events 100 years ago.
Graphic short stories on the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme are being delivered to every primary and secondary school across Northern Ireland thanks to the Nerve Centre’s Creative Centenaries project.
The graphic stories, which are just one of a range of educational resources being developed to assist learning around events within the Decade of Centenaries, explore the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, two key moments of 1916, through the experiences of real life characters.
The Easter Rising is told through the actions of Winifred Carney, James Connolly’s personal secretary and one of the last people to leave the GPO during Easter week.
The Battle of the Somme is brought to life through Victoria Cross winner William McFadzean, from Lurgan, one of the first men from Ulster to die at the Battle of the Somme.
On the morning of July 1st, 1916, Lurgan man Billy McFadzean was distributing bombs in preparation for the attack. The box slipped and two of the safety pins fell out as a result. Sensing the carnage it would cause his fellow comrades, McFadzean sacrificed his life and dived on the grenades. Only one other person was injured due to the action taken by McFadzean, who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.
The 36th (Ulster) Division were able to capture their objective on the first day of the Somme, while suffering great casualties. The failure of other divisions of the British Army to be similarly successful left the 36th isolated and forced to retreat from their captured objective. They were eventually relieved from the front line on July 5th, 1916.
Printed back to back, the visual stories being distributed to schools also feature an education pack with detailed maps, background information and curriculum mapped digital tasks for use in the classroom.
The initiative, which is being supported by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), will also see the resources delivered to libraries and museums across Northern Ireland.
The Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín MLA, said: “Significant anniversaries from the 1912-22 period provide all of us on this island with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of our shared past and how it shapes our identities and relationships today.
“These graphic short stories are innovative and engaging ways to approach historical information and tell the stories and different interpretations of this period to a younger audience.
“The Creative Centenaries project is playing a key role in developing inclusive approaches to remembering our shared past and supporting the aims of the Executive’s Together: Building a United Community Strategy.”
Education Minister, John O’Dowd MLA, said: “This resource provides a new way for teachers to engage with pupils should they wish to use it. The short stories can help in exploring key anniversaries and the life and times of people who shaped events in 1916.
“Helping our young people to understand our shared history and explore different viewpoints reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and building a united and shared society.”
David Lewis, Director of Communications and Digital Content at the Nerve Centre, said the graphic short stories allowed young people a chance to engage with events from 100 years ago.
He explained: “Some schools have had the chance to pilot work around the graphic stories through Nerve Centre engagement programmes and the response has been really positive.
“They allow for history to be explored in a new and engaging format, particularly for children and young people.
“The Decade of Centenaries provides a chance to look back, to remember and to commemorate some of the key events from 100 years ago and Creative Centenaries aims to make learning and understanding of the period more accessible to all ages.”
The Creative Centenaries project has also spearheaded the development of a range of innovative resources around the Decade of Centenaries including cutting edge animations and a suite of iBooks on the events of 1916.
Developed for use on the iPad, the innovative digital book repurposes content originally developed by the Nerve Centre for an interactive CD-ROM to create a multi-sensory experience combining video footage, audio interviews with historians and academics and interactive quizzes.
All of these resources and more are available for free download from the Creative Centenaries website (www.creativecentenaries.org) which serves as the hub platform for all Decade of Centenaries news, activity and resources.
See more at: http://www.creativecentenaries.org/post/graphic-short-stories-delivered-all-schools-northern-ireland#sthash.m7RATyZO.dpuf
Easter Rising Picture: Linen Hall Library
Somme pictures from the Imperial War Museum
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