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Review of the year, 2016-2017

Another successful year for the Lecale & Downe Historical Society and we are delighted to report a healthy membership base and well attended lectures. The Society is established to assist the community by promoting the study of history and environment and in particular the barony of Lecale and adjacent areas in Co Down. This is done by hosting an annual series of lectures, outings and publishing our annual journal and occasional monographs.

We started our programme of lectures in September with the launch of a new publication - Pilson's Notable Inhabitants of Dozonpatrick. This publication had been an aspiration of the Society for many years. We are indebted to Society members Gordon Wheeler and Colm Rooney for their diligent work on transcribing and putting together the content, and to Philip Blair for design and sourcing illustrations. All was brought together with the oversight of the Society's Editorial Committee and we once more thank those involved for their time and expertise. Colm was interviewed about the book on the BBC Radio Ulster programme 'Your Place or Mine'. On the launch evening Colm highlighted the interesting insights provided by Aynsworth Pilson giving us a glimpse into life in the 17th and 18th centuries, a rare treat.

In October we were joined by Professor Fearghal McGarry from Queens University to talk about the Legacy of 1916 - a Century of Consequences. Professor McGarry specialises in modern Irish history and has published several books on the Easter Rising. It was an informative talk as we looked back over the past 100 years to a pivotal moment that continues to resonate within the history of our current time. November is accepted as the Review month when we launch the latest annual volume of the Lecale Review. This year's special guest was Dr William Roulston of the Ulster Historical Foundation. Volume 14 is another informative read with many interesting articles on items of local history that without the journal would not get published. The Review continues to be a flagship publication with copies going across the world to delight and inform those who have an interest in Lecale.

In December we had a seasonal lecture on Folk and Fairy Tales of County Down - Local Myths and Legends. Perfect for a winter evening, artist and storyteller Steve Lally, informed and entertained with tales of fairy trees and local heroes. Also in December, Committee members Berkley Farr and Philip Blair attended the official opening of the Ulster Historical Foundation's new premises at The Corn Exchange in Belfast. The Society had made a donation to their 'Buy a Brick' campaign, which went towards new equipment for research purposes.

January took us down the annals of our local newspaper, the Down Recorder. Marcus Crichton provided a wealth of information from the archives of what is a community institution that has been reporting local news since 1836. In February one of our own members, Dr Finbar McCormick, gave an interesting lecture on Meeting House and Chapel - the Evolution of Presbyterian and Catholic Churches, telling us about pre and post reformation styles and documenting the change in layout and configuration. ,

Maritime historian and author Ian Wilson gave the March Lecture on Shipwrecks of Co Down. Ian Wilson has had a lifetime interest in Ulster's maritime history. His wealth of knowledge was evident and we learned of the many craft from schooners to steam coasters that had floundered in what were often notorious coastal waters. In April we were hosted by Peter and Sian Maxwell at Old Court in Strangford for an interesting and highly entertaining lecture recalling the life and loves of Lady Georgiana Lennox who had been a dear friend of the Duke of Wellington. We were transported back to the era of the Napoleonic war and that famous ball in Brussels the night before the Battle of Waterloo which both Georgy and Wellington attended. A highly atmospheric lecture as we were hosted by the current Baron de Ros in his Strangford home and were hearing of the life of his ancestor Georgiana who became Lady de Ros. The lecture was given by Alice Marie Crossland who also signed copies of her book Wellington's Dearest Georgy. A most enjoyable evening.

In May we held our AGM followed by members items of interest and in June we had a very successful and interesting outing to Finnebrogue House. Thanks to Noel Lamb for hosting us at Finnebrogue and showcasing the renovations he has made to this very fine 17th century house. Ticket sales for the outing raised 420 for Mr Lamb's charity, Hope for Youth NI.

The regular meetings of the Society are held in Down County Museum and the Society would wish to thank the Curator and staff of the Museum for their help and assistance in the smooth organisation of our events.

This was another busy year for the Lecale & Downe Historical Society and we would wish to acknowledge all those who contributed to making our activities and events so informative and enjoyable. The Society is also indebted to the volunteers who help out throughout the year in a variety of roles, their time and support is greatly appreciated.



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