Every young warrior must know how to use a sword and shield – and be able to dance! Warrior School, a week long programme of heritage education activities, organised by Mid Ulster District Council, took place at The Hill of The O’Neill & Ranfurly House Arts & Visitor Centre this summer as part of The Gathering of the Clans. It allowed almost 300 pupils from ten local schools to take a step back in time to a day in 1595, and learn in a fun and interactive way about daily life in the castle of Hugh O’Neill in Dungannon, the ancient capital of Ulster.
Groups of children were welcomed by Master Finbarr O’Hagan, the Guardian of Tullahoge Fort, and Mistress Sarah Parsons, Companion to the Countess of Tyrone. These two important characters informed children of the Midsummer customs of the late 16th century, including matchmaking, while making them aware of the importance of the inhabitants of the castle in Dungannon.
The children were taken on a tour of the castle site before participating in games and pastimes from this era, including dancing and fencing. During the second part of the day, the young warriors designed their own shields from recycled materials, which they then painted in modern designs based on ancient Celtic patterns.
The living history in “Warrior School!” was facilitated by Stephanie Lavery and Tony Girvan from Time Steps, while Hazel Boland provided the tuition in the shield-making art workshops.
“Warrior School!” was the culmination of this school year’s successful programme of heritage education programmes at The Hill of The O’Neill & Ranfurly House Arts & Visitor Centre. The new term of events begins on Friday 9th September with a European Heritage Open Day free event for schools, “A Guided Tour with the Victorian Bank Manager”.
For further information go to www.midulsterdistrictcouncil.org or contact the Ranfurly House Arts and Visitor Centre on 028 8772 8600.