Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Linen Hall Library is currently closed to the public. However, we have a wealth of resources available in our collections and through our educational outreach programmes. On this page we will share a selection of our available resources/workshops and other information that you may find interesting and helpful during the current crisis.
Introduce Your Children to Yeats With Our Activity Workshop
William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939) was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of the Irish literary establishment, he helped to found the famous Dublin Abbey Theatre. Recently the Linen Hall’s education and outreach officer devised the activity plan below to introduce children to the resources held in the Linen Hall Library which include the works of this poetic genius.
A reference book called The Moon Spun Round W.B. Yeats for Children (this book can be purchased online) is a useful starting point for children to begin to visualise some of the imagery and meaning in Yeats’s poems.
‘He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’, ‘The Stolen Child’, ‘The Song of Wondering Aengus’ (these poems can be found on the internet if you don’t have access to a book)
Read one/all of the poems aloud to your child/children.
What was/were the poem/s about? What are myths, legends and folklore?
Do you know any myths or legends?
Additional activity 1: Actions to movements in the poems
Get your child/children to act out some of the lines from the poems. This will create a better understanding of what is happening in the poem. Ask the participants to listen carefully as you read out each of the lines below. Read them one after the other. Now read them one at a time, giving a few seconds for the participants to think about how they can act it out. Say ‘action’ when you think they are ready to show their moves!
Spread the cloths under your feet flapping herons wake, The drowsy water-rats
With a faery, hand in hand Weaving olden dances
whispering in their ears cut and peeled a hazel wand, And hooked
a berry to a thread caught a little silver trout
Additional activity 2: Creative writing
Select one of the lines in activity 1 to create two short stanzas (or more if you like) of poetry. If you are particularly inspired to write your own piece, amazing, do that too!
(Participant) task 2:
On a large sheet of paper (suitable for drawing on) copy down your chosen poem.
(Participant) task 3:
Illustrate the page with images from the poem. This can include nature, stars, fairies, children, but most importantly what you think the poem would look like if you were to illustrate it.
Linen Hall Library Northern Ireland Political Collection Workshop
The Linen Hall Library holds the internationally renowned Northern Ireland Political Collection which is the definitive archive of the Troubles. In 1968 the then Librarian Jimmy Vitty was handed a civil rights leaflet in the city centre. He kept it and brought it back to the Library. Since then the Linen Hall has sought to collect all printed material relating to the Troubles and peace process. More details about the collection can be found at the Divided Society website.
Let’s investigate the Troubles period, specifically the 1970s. This decade was extremely important to our history; it was the beginning of what we now know as the Troubles. Many lives were changed through this decade and the results can still be felt in physical, emotional and mental ways through our people and landscape. These years shaped and transformed local communities introducing peace walls, security gates and other divisions. People continued to live their daily lives; this is referred to by many as an ‘abnormal normality’. Children went to school, people went about their working lives, although they did this with the knowledge of bomb threats, shootings and other violence that could happen at any given time. Further study can be carried out at https://www.dividedsociety.org/ It is a free resource in the UK and Ireland, all you need to do is register with an email address.
Why do we use the word ‘Troubles’ to describe one of the most deeply affecting times in our recent history?
- What do you think of the term the Troubles ?
- Does it sum up what happened well?
- Is it positive or negative or neither?
- Does it make the events sound less important or more important?
- What were the Troubles about or for?
Read the timeline of events below. Make a timeline then search the internet for other key events to add:
- People’s Democracy March: 1 January 1969 The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) and some nationalists in Derry had advised against the march. The march was modelled on Martin Luther King’s Selma to Montgomery march. The march started in Belfast and travelled across Northern Ireland to Derry.
- 4th January 1969 (Burntollet Ambush) The march was ambushed on Burntollet Bridge. The Royal Ulster Constabulary broke up the rally that was held in the centre of the city as the march arrived. This action, and the subsequent entry of the RUC into the Bogside area of the city, led to serious rioting.
- Battle of the Bogside: August 1969. As the annual Apprentice Boys parade passed close to the Bogside area of Derry serious rioting erupted. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), using armoured cars and water cannons, entered the Bogside in an attempt to end the rioting. The RUC were closely followed and supported by a loyalist crowd. The residents of the Bogside forced the police and the loyalists back out of the area. The RUC used CS gas to again enter the Bogside area. This period of conflict between the RUC and Bogside (and Creggan) residents was to become known as the ‘Battle of the Bogside’ and lasted for two days. It also led to the erection of barricades with the area inside being called ‘Free Derry’.
- Serious rioting spread across Northern Ireland from Derry to other Catholic areas stretching the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The rioting deteriorated into sectarian conflict between Catholics and Protestants and many people were forced from their homes.
On the 9th of September 1969 a ‘Peace Line’ was Constructed.
Chichester-Clark, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, announced that the British Army would erect a temporary ‘peace-line’ between Catholic and Protestant areas of Belfast to try to prevent rioting. This temporary structure was replaced over the years by a more substantial ‘peace wall’ that still remains in place. Some parts soar up to 30 feet high, elaborate constructions of reinforced concrete, steel, heavy-duty mesh and razor-wire.
Q.1. Do you live near one/have you seen one? Describe what a peace wall looks like.
Q.2. What do you think of the term ‘Peace Wall’? Does it describe what they are well? Should they have been called something else?
‘The peace lines keep a lot of trouble out but they also have a confining, claustrophobic effect: some residents have not left their district in years’.
‘Walls keep people in as well as out’
What do you think of those statements? Write some paragraphs on your thoughts about peace walls.
Royal Avenue 1977. © Linen Hall Library Collection
Other physical barriers included security checks and searches. Large steel gates closed off city centres to limit access. These checkpoints saw hundreds of people pass through them every day. People queued and were split into male and female lines, children and prams were also searched. This was happening at a time when explosions were frequent and incendiary devices were placed in shops and venues.
Q.1 Describe how you think it would have felt to go through a security check. How long do you think it would take? How many times a day would you need to go through one? Would it make someone feel safe or unsafe?
Q.2. Research on the internet to see when the security gates were removed from your nearest city.
Q.3. You can see the words ‘Help us to help you’ on the side of the army vehicle in the picture. Why do you think that was there?
As we have investigated some of the events and happenings of the early ‘Troubles’, we will now think about the current day.
(‘The First Day of Stormont’ by Ian Knox. Copyright belongs to Ian Knox, the original cartoon is held in the Linen Hall Library archive.)
The above cartoon provides a depiction of what the cartoonist Ian Knox thought the first day of Stormont would be like. It was drawn for a local newspaper at the exact time of the first day of Stormont.
Q.1. What is happening in the cartoon? Are people happy? Do you think they want to work together?
Q.2. Do you think the cartoonist is portraying the feelings of the general public? What people thought was going to happen.
Q.3. Do you recognise the people in the cartoon? If you don’t know some of them, research on the internet to see who they are. Find out what political parties they represent.
Q.4. What are some of the issues being brought into the room?
‘To a Mouse’ by Robert Burns – An Activity Workshop for Young People
The Linen Hall Library holds the largest collection of Robert Burns’ material outside of Scotland. This museum accredited archive, the Gibson Collection, is world renowned.
The collection was amassed by Andrew Gibson, a former Governor of the Linen Hall. It was bought for the city of Belfast in 1901, and placed in the Library. The collection includes items donated by Burns’ grand daughter Eliza Everitt, and contains the first printing of Burns in Belfast (1787, James Magee) and copies of his own books
This is a poem which is meant to be read aloud. Burns’ aim is storytelling. Stories are very important in understanding all sorts of aspects in our life. You can find a copy of the poem online if you google To A Mouse by Robert Burns.
Liz Lochhead reading To A Mouse:
If you would like to hear the poem read aloud click the link below, it will take you to a BBC website. Liz Lochhead (Elizabeth Anne Lochhead) wrote poetry as a child and whilst studying at art school, Liz won a BBC Scotland Poetry Competition in 1971, and Gordon Wright published her first collection of poetry, Memo for Spring, in 1972 under his Reprographia imprint.
If you are leading the workshop these are things to think about:
- This poem can be read as a story about a farmer wrecking a mouse’s nest while he was ploughing the land – it wasn’t really his fault but he feels sympathy for the creature.
- We can also think about our own world. Poetry can make us reflect on lots of different ideas and themes.
Task 1: Collect sticks or twigs from the garden, or make long strips of paper from a page (make it look like straw). Good to get some garden time if you can!
Task 2: Everyone helps to build the nest. Build the nest, using what you have gathered – twigs, cardboard, paper, leaves – on a table.
Task 3: Read the poem (try to include some actions if you can, e.g. running, jumping)
Questions to ponder once you have read the poem.
-How do you think the mouse felt in the poem?
-What happened to his nest? Who knocked it down?
-How did the farmer feel? Was he happy?
-What does a mouse look like? Can you describe it?
Task 4: Role play– how could we act like a mouse?
Get the participants to act like a mouse – ears, squeak, small size (crouch down)
Task 5: Now we are going to act like the mouse in the poem.
-Lie on your side/crouch down and curl into a ball like a mouse
-Close your eyes, imagine what a mouse would dream about (food, eating grain, playing, jumping, escaping the neighbour’s cat)
-Use your hands as mouse ears, can you hear a noise?
-Open your eyes
-Stand up quickly
-Run on the spot
Task 6: Make a finger mouse.
- Cut a piece of paper into a small circle
- Cut the circle in half
- Put a line of glue (or just sellotape once rolled) along the straight edge
- Make either end of the straight line touch, you should have a cone shape
- Tadah! You have a mouse to decorate