Past Exhibition: Hidden Treasures
The Hidden Treasures exhibition was on display at the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre/Ionad Ealaíon agus Cultúir Ghleann na Ró in Limavady from 11th March - 23rd April 2011.
From gas masks to estate maps, rent books to sheet music, Limavady’s museum collection contains a wealth of invaluable material. Consisting of hundreds of objects in total, the collection is both sizeable and varied. Given the scale of the collection, this exhibition displayed key highlights to demonstrate the variery of items that have been collected over the years. The objects featured in the exhibition will form the basis of exhibitions to come in the future which will focus on various aspects of Limavady’s past. Below is an overview of some of the objects which were featured in the exhibition.
First and Second World War Objects
The First and Second World Wars were two of the most significant events of the 20th century. The scale of the wars was unparalleled in history. Military, industrial and human resources were used on a scale never before thought possible; leaving the worldwide landscape notably transformed. Limavady’s museum collections contain a range of First and Second World War objects. These items give us an invaluable insight into people’s lives and experiences during wartime.
- Clothing Book, 1946-1947: Food was not the only thing to be rationed during wartime. Clothes rationing was introduced in May 1941 and continued until 1949.
- Personal message from King George VI to school children, 1946: This message was sent to all school children by King George VI on 8th June 1946. It was printed on card with the Royal Coat of Arms. On the back was a timeline of important war dates. A space was also included for children to include their own family’s war record.
- Women’s Land Army uniform, c.1940s: The Women’s Land Army was set up in June 1939. Those who joined became known as Land Girls. They worked on the land during WW2; carrying out such tasks as planting and harvesting wheat, milking cows and digging potatoes.
The Sloan Collection
Drumcovitt House and Farm were built 300 years ago on land owned by the Fishmongers Company. The Sloan Collection was donated by Mrs. Florence Sloan in 2007. The collection contains some 283 items dating from the 1800s to the late 1900s. Hand coloured maps, letters, rates books and various other social history items are all included in the collection. They principally relate to Mr. S.G.M. Craig and his relatives who lived at Drumcovitt House and various locations throughout Limavady.
- Letter from the Fishmongers Hall, 1873: To the Craig family, expressing their condolences upon hearing of George Craig’s death. Certificate, 1946: Confirming Samuel George Mervyn Craig’s appointment as a Justice of the Peace for the County of Londonderry.
- Derry and Antrim Yearbooks, various dates: Containing lists of all the local towns and villages, office holders and clergy; as well as information about marriages and deaths in the area.
These items, donated by Mrs. A. Witherspoon and Mrs. M. Buchanan, all relate to local schools in Limavady. The objects give an insight into the types of subjects pupils studied as well as an understanding of how the school was run and organised around the early - mid 1900s. These items as well as many others from the schools collection were displayed in the RVACC in October 2011 as part of our School Days exhibition.
Limavady General Post Office Material
- Needlework exercise book: Girls in Dungiven Primary School were taught a range of tasks including darning, hemming, knitting and stitching.
- School slates: These slates were used by school children in Market Street National School in the late 19th century.
- Corporal Punishment book, Main Street National School, 1906-1922: Offences which resulted in a slap or two with the cane included fighting and disobedience to the principal.
This material from the General Post Office in Limavady dates from the 1920s to the 1960s. The General Post Office (GPO) was established by Oliver Cromwell in 1657. A network of nationwide offices was established throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Although the General Post Office’s original focus was the postal service, it gradually moved into telecommunications and banking as the years progressed. In 1969 the GPO was abolished and the assets transferred to The Post Office.
Bunting’s Ancient Music of Ireland
- Limavady post bags: These post bags were used to collect letters from post boxes in and around Limavady. They would then have been brought to the Post Office where they were sent on trains to Derry or Belfast or divided out between local Postmen to deliver.
- Limavady Post Office ledger: This ledger was used in Limavady Post Office from 1926 to 1950.
Edward Bunting (1773-1843) was a passionate collector of traditional Irish music. He transcribed the music of the last of the Old Irish harpers at the Belfast Harpers’ Meeting in 1792 and spent the next number of years touring the length and breadth of Ireland; collecting traditional Irish folksongs and tunes of such musical luminaries as Denis O'Hampsey from Magilligan. Bunting published a total of three volumes dedicated to the Ancient Music of Ireland - A General Collection of the Ancient Irish Music (1796), A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland (1809) and The Ancient Music of Ireland (1840).
Objects from Green Lane Museum
- A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland, 1809: Bunting's second published book contains a long preface and 77 tunes. The tunes are in romantic piano arrangements, some with specially written songs in English as was the fashion of the time. The preface includes a historical overview of the evolution of the harp.
- The Ancient Music of Ireland, 1840: This was the third and last of Bunting's publications. The introduction includes a history of the harp, biographies of important harpers, tables of various fingering and damping techniques used by each hand, tuning and nomenclature, and also a commentary on some of the tunes with attempts to date them. The book contains many tunes arranged for the pianoforte.
The artefacts in Green Lane Museum relate to industry (linen), trades (blacksmiths, carpenters) and farming around the Roe River. The collection includes Hunter's Bakers Cart, the Mobillette Milking machine, the Tumbling Body Plough and a fine flax breaker produced by Kennedy’s foundry in Coleraine. The museum is open from Easter to September, where you can see the items in this case on display as well as many other related objects.
Objects from the Limavady Area
- Box iron: Box irons had a contained at the base for glowing coals. As the handle was made of metal, it had to be gripped using a pad or thick rag to prevent burning.
- Butter pats: Used to shape butter into blocks, making it ready for sale.
The Limavady Museum Collection contains a wealth of material from the local area. The items on display in this case give an insight into the various types of objects that the museum holds in relation to the borough. Many of these items were donated by local people or people whose ancestors lived in the local area.
- Young Farmers’ Club Booklets, 1940s: Young Farmers’ Clubs originated in the 1920s. Booklets such as these where produced by the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs. They informed young people about the keeping of growing and living things including calves, pigs, poultry, bees and gardens.
- Letter from W.F. Massey to Mr. J.D. Boyd, 17th December 1923: Born on the 26th March 1856 in Limavady, William Ferguson Massey emigrated to New Zealand with his family at the age of 14. Originally from a poor background, Massey worked his way up to become Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1912.
- Danny Boy sheet music, Boosey & Co Ltd, 1918: Fred Weatherly was an English lawyer and songwriter. He wrote Danny Boy to the melody known as the ‘Londonderry Air’ in 1913. The origins of the melody have been linked to Jane Ross from Limavady who is said to have heard the tune being played by a blind fiddler on Market Day.
- Framed embroidery: This embroidery was made by Dr. Muriel Robertson between 1911 and 1914 whilst she was undertaking scientific work in Uganda. Dr. Robertson gave it to the Roe Valley Hospital in memory of her sister.