Join The Lecale History Sessions In Downpatrick


Understanding ‘The Bigger Picture’ in the History of Lecale.

A programme to look at the life and work of local Protestant scholar, Francis Joseph Bigger, a leading figure in rescuing early Christian medieval buildings and artefacts in the Lecale area during 1890-1920, is beginning on Saturday 2 March in Down County Museum at 10.15am.

Led by Newry Mourne and Down District Council, through the Down County Museum and Green Pine Consultants, the programme is part of the Shared History and Cultural Programme under the Building Positive Relations theme.

The project is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The project’s primary objective is promoting positive relations characterised by respect, where cultural diversity is celebrated, and people can live, learn and socialise together, free from prejudice, hate and intolerance.

Francis Bigger entertained dignitaries and celebrities in Jordan’s Castle in Ardglass a hundred years ago. 

Newry Mourne and Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Mark Murnin said: “This programme is a wonderful opportunity to find out more about our area and the people who lived here through the ages. It also gives us an opportunity to learn about an important local historian and scholar who did so much to ensure that important building and artefacts would be preserved for future generations.”

The programme brings together some of the country’s top archaeologists including Dr Colm Donnelly and Dr Finbar McCormick from Queen’s University Belfast with the foremost experts on the life of Francis Joseph Bigger, such as Roland Spottiswoode, Roger Dixon and local guide Duane Fitzsimons.

Francis Joseph Biggar, antiquarian, will be discussed at the first of a series of talks starting on Saturday 2nd December.

Throughout the spring there will be a series of five free morning talks held in Down County Museum’s lecture theatre in Downpatrick, followed by bus trips to learn about some of the local sites. There will also be a visit to Carlingford, to look at the way local history and archaeology can assist people to understand and learn about their heritage. Topics to be addressed include The Tower Houses of Lecale, St Patrick in Co Down and Maximising Heritage locally.

The final event will be a half-day conference on The Bigger Legacy held in early June followed by a tour facilitated by local guide Duane Fitzsimons.

Participants will be invited to ask questions and share ideas, to encourage a better understanding of the joint heritage of the area and could lead to a local heritage trail.

As part of funding requirements for this programme, it will be necessary for participants to be able to attend the majority of the morning talks and trips and commit 26 hours to it. Match-funding for this project has been provided by The Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department for Rural and Community Development in Ireland.

Registration is essential as places on this programme are limited.

The programme which will start on Saturday, 2 March at 10.15 at Down Museum, with a talk by Roland Spottiswoode on Francis Joseph Bigger 1863 to 1926, followed by a tour.

If you are interested in taking part in this programme during Spring /Summer 2019 and finding out more, you can register your interest by contacting Fionntán on 07895 954189 or email your name and contact details to:

People will also be able to register at the first talk.