A TIME CAPSULE FOR MAGHERA
30th December 2015 – 30th December 2115
One of the first projects to take place in the Heritage & Culture Centre was the preparation and sealing of a Time Capsule. We thought that this was a good way to represent the aims of the Maghera Historical Society. The Capsule is not only a way to communicate with the generations to come, but also symbolises the whole town coming together to work towards a positive and peaceful future for our descendants.
Over the year everybody was invited to contribute messages, memorabilia, photographs, newspapers, information and messages to be sealed within the Capsule. The local schools all became involved with many pupils giving photographs and messages which will not be seen again until the Capsule is opened in 100 years-time.
The official sealing took place on the 30th December 2015 in the Centre. James Armour acted as Master of Ceremonies for the evening, and in this role explained that the idea behind the Capsule was to bring the town together and act as an expression of faith in the future of Maghera. He said that he believed that the way to understand the hearts and minds of a generation was through an appreciation of the memories, stories and songs of everyday life rather than the major political issues of the time. Through the personal information preserved in the Capsule people in Maghera, a hundred years into the future would get a real insight into life in the town in 2015.
Joseph McCoy, Chairperson of the MHS then spoke and drew an interesting comparison between the modern day capsule and the way in which an historical structure, such as St.Lurach’s, can function as a time capsule itself. As Joseph said, ‘Walking around the old church you are aware of the changes in the masonry and stone work from the early Christian beginnings of the site through to the 10th century walls, the magnificent, carved lintel dating from the medieval period and the tower added in the 17th century. The church stands as a built record of over a thousand years of history’.
Fergal Cudden, the youngest committee member of the MHS, represented the younger people of the town at the ceremony. He spoke of growing up in Maghera and how he enjoyed the peaceful friendly pace of life there. He referred to his deep connection with the town and how he saw this sense of belonging continuing down the years to future generations. He also spoke of his hope that the Maghera Historical Society would, ‘Shine a new light on the history of Maghera and make it something that the newer generation will be both interested in and proud of.’
Mrs.Elizabeth (Lizzie) Shiels, now in her ninety-first year, was next invited to speak. Lizzie shared memories of her life growing up in the area. She spoke of a different age, now gone forever and evoked images of a simpler, and perhaps happier, way of life. Remembrances of Christmases long ago were brought to life in a poem written by Lizzie. The verses highlighted the contrast between today’s consumerism and the values of earlier times, leading the audience to wonder what sort of life, hopes and aspirations our descendants would experience so many years into the future. Lizzie herself acted as an inspiration to everyone gathered at the ceremony as she brought such energy, goodwill and optimism to the idea of forging a link between ourselves and the unknown future inhabitants of the town.
James then invited contributions from the floor. The first to make a contribution was Cllr. Martin Kearney. He reminisced movingly about his childhood and the importance of memory and history for everybody. He dwelt on the importance of personal and local history in the life of a community. In this context he felt that the Time Capsule gave the people of Maghera a wonderful opportunity to come together, and by sharing their experiences give those in the 22nd century a picture of the town today.
Kevin Daly, a Committee member of the MHS, then spoke about well-known characters in the town in the past. In particular, he acknowledged the role played by Mr. Roy Shiels, Lizzie’s husband, who had devoted many years to helping the young people of the town and ran a football team known as ‘Roy’s Chicks’. Kevin’s emphasised how important it was for the identity and spirit of the town that the full time-line of its history be carried on, unbroken, into the future.
Cllr. Anne Forde gave us her memories of growing up outside the town on a farm in the Carrick. This gave us another perspective on a past way of life when Freddie Cauldwell and his threshing machine travelled from farm to farm and neighbours all worked together to bring the harvest in. Again Cllr. Forde dwelt on the importance of ensuring that a record of who we are and what we stand for is passed on to our descendants and she complimented the Society on the idea of the Time Capsule.
Tommy Collins agreed that the Society had given the people of Maghera a significant opportunity to keep history alive through the generations and Cllr. George Shiels made the final contribution of the evening with his usual wit and wisdom. Cllr Shiels also referred to his father, Roy Shiels, who, he said, had inspired him to make a contribution to society throughout his life.
The Time capsule itself was then locked by Lizzie and Fergal to begin its journey one hundred years into the future to be opened again on the 30th December 2115.
Putting together the capsule was a daunting task in itself, as a special container had to be constructed which could be filled with nitrogen before being hermetically sealed to preserve the contents intact. Within the Capsule special paper, ink and packaging had to be sourced and used to protect against deterioration over the next hundred years. Pat Rafferty and John Marquess, both members of the MHS committee worked behind the scenes to make it all happen.
The celebrations continued in the Centre until late at night with everybody enjoying the music provided by Alan Hutchinson and Friends with vocalist Alice McMurray.