I was the project manager of the ‘The Men Behind the Glass’ project. This collective title given to the photographs of many of the 127 pupils and one staff member killed in the Great War that sit in the grand Central Hall at Campbell College Belfast (CCB). These images are embedded in glass-fronted frames in the recesses of the Edwardian wood panelling in the Hall.
The Men Behind the Glass Project was a restoration, education and community engagement initiative, centered on the archives of CCB and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It ran from June 2017 to November 2018.
It had two elements: firstly, working with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), to preserve and digitally restore the photographs; and secondly, to conduct research and community engagement around the ‘real life stories’ of these men, focusing on their personal, family and community roles, as well as their military service.
This engagement included also making the college archives accessible to the wider community, academics and historians to contribute to discussion and research into the shared, and often contested, histories of Ireland during the Decade of Centenaries (2012-2022).
The project worked in close co-operation with a range of statutory, voluntary and community stakeholders such as PRONI, the East Belfast in the Great War project, the Western Front Association and local historical societies.