International Women’s Day 2018

Today on International Women’s Day 2018 we are thinking about the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS)

The Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) performed countless welfare activities, from helping families who were the victims of the blitz, to the distribution of clothing and Red Cross parcels and vitamins to children.

The WVS in Northern Ireland held its first meeting on 30th January 1941. Belfast suffered two major air raids in April and May 1941, just a few months after the WVS had formed.

In the aftermath of the Belfast blitz, the WVS clothed 7,000 people.  After the Easter Tuesday attack, 40,000 people were accommodated in Belfast’s rest centres and 70,000 meals were served to them the following day.

Four mobile canteens attached to the AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) were manned by WVS in the weeks following the Belfast blitz.

By the end of May 1941 the WVS in Northern Ireland had 10,446 members.

WVS members also worked in ARP (Air Raid Precautions) and transport services, in rest centres, evacuation and information bureaux.

In January 1942, the one Belfast district of the WVS completed 96 camouflage nets for the army.

When the first American transport arrived in Northern Ireland in January 1942, a WVS Mobile Canteen was waiting, ready to serve hot drinks to the men. Shortly after then men had disembarked, a WVS salvage van appeared to collect any wastepaper which might have accumulated on the transports.

Call into the Museum to see our very own WVS woman.



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Drawing Day 2018

Drawing Day 2018

Saturday 19th May 2018 – @ 12- 4pm


Visit the War Memorial Museum on Drawing Day to take part in a day of creativity inspired by our Second World War collection. Discover more about the Belfast Blitz, the Home Front in Northern Ireland, American GIs, and the contemporary art in the Museum. Pick up a pencil and draw – and then share your art on our Facebook page.

Chalk and colouring pencils will be provided, with drawing activities to suit all ages. You can drop-in any time between 12 noon and 4pm.

People of all ages can join in listening to 1940s music and playing with 1940s toys and board games.

No experience or booking required

Free admission

For more information visit:



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Successful Selection Workshop

Successful Selection Workshop

Friday 20th April 2018

NI War Memorial- 21 Talbot Street, Belfast, BT1 2LD

This interactive workshop will provide a masterclass in CV development; whether you are a student at pre-entry, early career; someone transferring into the sector, ex-freelancers; or someone with a portfolio career.

We will share hints and tips for effective interviews, as well as exploring other selection techniques and how to nail them.

As part of the workshop we will focus on ‘gaps’ and we will discuss what you may need to develop and how to do so to be able to meet the requirements for both short-listing and successful appointment.

This workshop will have relevance for anyone working, volunteering or thinking about joining the sector. Existing Museums Association Members welcome as is anyone with an interest in the museums and galleries sector. Why not book on and begin your next career chapter.

Two separate workshops are being held on Friday 20th April 2018.

The Morning Session will run from 10:00am to 1:00pm.

Click this link to register for the morning workshop: 

The Afternoon session will run from 1:30pm to 4:30pm.

Click this link to register for the afternoon session:

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The end of the First World War and the New World Order

Join us for this History Ireland Hedge School, a round table discussion.

The seminar is titled, ‘The end of the First World War and the New World Order’.

The discussion will be moderated by HI editor, Tommy Graham, with contributions from leading historians Fearghal McGarry, Margaret O’Callaghan, Margaret Ward and John Horne.

Date and Time: Sunday 18th March 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Venue: Northern Ireland War Memorial,
             21 Talbot Street,
             BT1 2LD
Telephone: 028 9032 0392

Free Admission, with a valid ticket registered using the link below:

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RAF 100 – Early operations in Ireland

To mark the centenary of the creation of the Royal Air Force in 1918, PRONI in conjunction with the NI War Memorial and the RAF are hosting a one day conference exploring a hundred years of the RAF in Northern Ireland.

Speakers will include amongst others: Guy Warner, Ernie Cromie, Dr Pat McCarthy, Joe Gleeson, Nina Hadaway, Nigel Henderson and representatives from the RAF.

Topics to be covered include: Irish men who served in the RFC and RAF, RFC/RNAS/RAF memorials in Belfast, the Irish Training Depot Stations at Baldonnel, Collinstown and Tallaght, the aircraft built for the RFC and RAF at Harland & Wolff, and the formation of the WRAF.

Visit eventbrite to find out more and to register for this free event.

Visit the RAF 100 website to find out what else is happening in your local area to commemorate the centenary of the RAF.

This event is taking place on Wednesday 25th April 2018 at 10:00am- 15:30pm.

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
2 Titanic Boulevard
Titanic Quarter, Belfast BT3 9HQ

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Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 – Remembering the Jewish Refugee Farm in Millisle Co. Down.

This week we have been marking Holocaust Memorial Day by teaching primary school children about a Jewish Refugee Farm which opened in 1939 in Millisle Co.Down. 

Children visiting the museum this week were given the chance to read a letter which was written to them by Ruth, now aged 81, who came to live on the farm in 1939. In the letter Ruth outlines her journey to Northern Ireland, her experiences on the farm, and how thankful she is for the farm which save the lives of so many Jewish refugees.

You can read Ruth’s letter by clicking the link below:

Ruth’s letter about the Millisle farm









About the Jewish Refugee Farm in Millisle

Children began arriving at the farm in the summer of 1939. At the time there were just a few rundown barns, an old stone farmhouse which was called Ballyrolly House, a cowshed and an old stable.

The fields were cleared, grain and vegetables planted, Ballyrolly House was made habitable, wooden huts were built for use as dormitories, and eventually showers, flush toilets, a recreation room, offices, workshops, storage rooms and a small synagogue, constructed.

Up to 80 people, including the children, lived and worked on the farm at any one time. The day started with religious worship in the farm’s synagogue, then English lessons in the morning, followed by sports and games, and work on the farm in the afternoon.

In all, from the first arrivals up until its closure in 1948, over 300 adults and children are believed to have passed through it.  All, even the youngest, worked and received payment. Many of the children attended local schools and several local people were employed alongside the refugees, teaching them farming skills.

In Millisle and Donaghadee the local farmers, shop keepers, churches, police and schools were great friends to those living on the farm, providing help with whatever was needed. At Millisle Primary School, local pupils helped the refugees to learn English.

The refugees got on very well with the locals who accepted their invitations to evening concerts at the farm. Franz Kohner (the farm’s financial administrator) played the violin at Sunday evening concerts.

The farm thrived. By October 1940 it had two Clydesdale workhorses, seven cows, 2,000 chickens, and 16 acres of vegetables, with much of the remainder of the land in cereals. With government grants and money provided by the Dublin Jewish congregation, a Ferguson tractor was acquired in 1941.

The farm supplied local troops in the area with food. Adults and teenagers from the farm joined local Red Cross and ARP units. Several boys joined the Air Training Corps at Donaghadee.

The farm had outstanding harvests of vegetables, potatoes, wheat, oats and barley. It kept beef and milk cattle, chickens and bees. Local farmers were generous with advice and equipment.

The farm had its own laundry, tool shop, shoemaker, carpenter, brick mason and plumber. Three weddings and several bar mitzvahs were held in the farm synagogue during the war.

After the Belfast Blitz in 1941, several Belfast Jewish families came to stay at the farm in Millisle as their homes in Belfast had been destroyed. Later in the war, Jewish soldiers serving with American units joined the community for Passover.

At some time in mid 1945 those living on the farm learnt the fate of the families they had left behind in Nazi governed Europe; almost all of the children had become orphans. Most of them remained in Millisle until the end of the war in 1945, and a number stayed on until it finally closed in May 1948.

The children who passed through Millisle farm over 70 years ago are now grown up and are widely dispersed in Great Britain, the United States, Canada, etc., though a few of the former residents still live in Northern Ireland. Many of them still have warm memories of life on the farm. Although times were hard, especially as they waited for news from their families, they were grateful for the chance of life that it provided for them.

A plaque is displayed in the Belfast synagogue; it was erected by these former refugees, and it expresses their heartfelt thanks to the Belfast Jewish community for their help and support during the Second World War.

Millisle provides Northern Ireland with a link to the Holocaust. Throughout the war, a refugee community whose families were falling victim to the Holocaust contributed significantly to Northern Ireland’s war effort. On Holocaust Day, we think about those who farmed at Millisle and the support provided by Belfast’s Jewish community and by the refugees’ new neighbours in rural Co. Down.

If you’d like to find out more about the farm, there are some fantastic learning resources available on the Down County Museum website:

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Sing for Victory

The Northern Ireland War Memorial invite you to Sing for Victory at a Dementia friendly singing and reminiscence workshop. Join us for a sing-along with live keyboard performances of songs from the 1940s.

1 workshop is still available with spaces: Monday 29th January 2018.
Booking is essential as there are limited spaces.

Book by emailing: or telephoning 02890320392 option 3.

For more information visit our Facebook page.

Wheelchair accessible.
Tea and Coffee provided.

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The Long and the Short of it

BBC Radio Ulster visited the Northern Ireland War Memorial in October to record an episode of ‘The Long and the Short of It’ with Dr David Hume, Tim McGarry and Dr Marie Coleman discussing Irish neutrality during the Second World War. You can listen to this interesting episode on BBC iPlayer Radio.


Tim McGarry, Dr David Hume and Dr Marie Coleman


Radio Ulster recording an episode of “The Long and the Short of it” in the museum

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Christmas Closure 2017

The museum will be closed from Monday 25th December and will re-open on Tuesday 2nd January 2018.

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Museum closed on Monday 4th December

The Northern Ireland War Memorial will be closed to visitors on Monday 4th December as we are hosting the NIMC Museum Forum meeting and Accreditation Awards ceremony.

We will open as normal again on Tuesday 5th December 10.00am – 4.30pm.

We apologise for any inconvenience.

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