A dyed in the wool Tandragee man with a passion for history has told how his community Facebook page has led to renewed interest in the antiquity of the area – including from some overseas.
Roy – who once upon a time took photographs for papers such as the Ulster Gazette and Portadown Times – set up Tandragee Community Photos in order to chronicle the photographic history of the village.
Speaking to Armagh I, Roy said that it is so important to preserve photographic history, and that this goal was his motivation behind starting his Facebook page.
“Between old photos, and ones I’ve took recently, I have thousands of photographs. I actually have two external hard drives, a two terabyte one and a half a gig unit sitting here, but I’ll never go through them all,” he laughed.
“Somebody could ask me for a photograph but by the time you would sort through all the photos you mightn’t find it at all, that’s the problem. Some of them are indexed this past ten years or more in different folders but before that, n0.”
Roy believes that preserving the history of the area is important, and is dismayed when so many disregard old photographs.
“A lot of people actually dump photographs,” he said. “I think that is terrible doing that, because that is actually history.”
With its huge collection of photographs of Tandragee in days gone by, Roy’s page has attracted visitors from not just County Armagh, or even just Northern Ireland, but people from all corners of the world, eager to rediscover old friends, family and ancestors.
“There were people contacting me from different parts of the world, asking if I had photographs of one thing or another,” Roy said.
“You get people from Australia, Canada and all different places. A lot of them are interested in family history and where they maybe used to live and things like that.”
Tandragee Community Photos is just one of the many nostalgic Facebook pages that have sprung up in recent years, and Roy says that his might have been the first.
The success of the page forms part of the surging interest in nostalgic posts and images on social media, with many keen to take a glimpse back into the past.
“Older people would remember a lot of the ones that I put on. Some of the younger ones are interested too and love to see them. They’ve seen their uncles or their grannies on it and were thrilled to see them.
“They ask me different questions, such as if I know someone or they’ll tell me they used to live in a certain place. I would put that onto the Facebook page and then other people would comment.
“There was one maybe a month ago and they put on that their family lived near Ballinabeck graveyard, and a lot of people replied,” Roy explained.
“A good historian about the town here was on to the lady and they found him to be very helpful. She found things that she didn’t know about her family through that page.”
Putting his photography expertise into practice, Roy is also expanding into modern photographs on the page as well.
Alongside old photographs, he has been showcasing Tandragee and the surrounding area as it stands today, and this venture has even led him to acquire a drone, for aerial imagery.
However, Roy says he still has plenty of old photos left to share, so those with a desire to continue exploring the Tandragee of yesteryear needn’t be disappointed.