Celebrating Classics in Belfast

Celebrating Classics in Belfast

By Dr. Arlene Holmes-Henderson

On Friday 9th February 2018, Legion XX pitched camp at the Ulster Museum where a whole day of activities was planned for young people aged 6-18. The day started very early (8am!) when BBC Radio Ulster Breakfast did a live broadcast from the venue. Dr John Curran and Helen McVeigh our ACE partners at Queens University Belfast (QUB) arranged a morning for primary school children of handling sessions, Classical drama in translation and mask-making, helped by volunteer student teachers from Stranmillis University College.

The afternoon session was aimed at pupils from secondary schools and included a performance of Classical drama from QUB English and Drama undergraduate students, a talk on the Aeneid by Dr John Curran and a hilarious comparison of Ancient and Modern life by Natalie Haynes, ACE patron. Buses brought students and teachers to the event from all over Ireland, demonstrating the demand for Classics education on the island.

This event was a spectacular example of partnership working. The Ulster Museum provided exceptional facilities, QUB staff organised the event, colleagues at Stranmillis University College contributed materials and teachers, the Classical Association of Northern Ireland led handling sessions (including artefacts borrowed from Trinity College Dublin) and Legion XX travelled for more than 7 hours each way to bring the Classical world to life for participants. They transported twenty large crates of armour, weapons, equipment and replica items.

With more than 250 attendees, this was the biggest and most successful ACE event to date. Well done, Belfast!

It is hoped that a member of the ACE project team will attend the Classical Association of Ireland Teachers’ Conference in October, to extend the project’s reach and to share strategies which have been successful in the UK.