New life for Sam Henry collection

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The Sam Henry collection is the inspiration behind a new project from Coleraine Museum.

It has received a grant from the Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund administrated by the Museums Association which will be used to create an interactive travelling exhibition based on his unique library of papers, photographs and artefacts.

Born in Coleraine, he was an energetic member of the community both locally and beyond.

For those who may not know, Sam Henry is best known as a folklorist, who had a real love of people which motivated much of his work.

He is best known for his ‘Songs of the People’ series that ran in the Northern Constitution between 1923 and 1938.

His work as a customs and pensions officer took him all over Northern Ireland, allowing him to meet many of the elderly people who lived in North Antrim, an experience which had a profound effect on him.

He wrote: “In my contact with the old, who have all now passed away, I had the rare privilege of sharing their folk lore and their old songs.”

His genuine interest in people is clear throughout his collection of papers, photographs and artefacts, which was generously donated to Coleraine Museum by the Craig family.

Estimated at 11,000 items altogether, it is recognised as being of local, regional and national importance.

Speaking about the collection and the upcoming new project, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Alderman Maura Hickey said: “The items held within the Sam Collection are an exciting and tangible link to our past. In this era of modern technology and digital communication, his songs, photographs and articles are important connections to a different way of life.

“I would like to express my thanks to the funders, who have ensured that this material can now be accessed by a new audience. I would encourage our local communities to get involved, and I hope that generations to come will have even more material to draw on.”

Sarah Carson, Collections Access Officer, said “Sam Henry was a remarkable man and as such has left behind an extraordinary collection. From what I have seen of the collection, I have every confidence that it is full of treasures that will spark the imagination.”

To find out more about the collection and how to get involved in this exciting project, please come along to one of our taster sessions.

They will take place on Tuesday, February 21 at Cushendall Golf Club at 7.30pm or Wednesday, February 22 at Garvagh Community Building, at 7.30pm.