U3A hears from author of Irish Biography Dictionary

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Dr Linde Lunney gave an interesting talk at the Ballymoney U3A March meeting at the Old Courthouse in Ballymoney.

Born in Ballymoney and brought up in North Antrim, Dr Lunney has a special interest in this area. She works in Dublin on the Dictionary of Irish Biography.

The dictionary cover 9,700 lives of people who were born in the island of Ireland including those who left. It does not include people of Irish descent who were born elsewhere.

The dictionary is available on-line and includes over 10 thousand extra articles in an unpublished database.

Linde is particularly interested in the relationships and connections between people and especially in the frequent similarity in theircareers, even when some of the relations emigrated. Examples were the Wiley family from Ballymena, who were often university teachers, and the Bests of Markethill, who were lawyers.

She explained the idea of six degrees of separation between everyone in the world. The theory says that it only takes six connections between people in order to link everyone.

In 1718 a large group of people left the Aghadowey area and moved to New Hampshire and Maine in the United States.

The group included half of the Aghadowey Presbyterian congregation.

Five small ships were chartered. The group founded the towns of Londonderry, Coleraine and Antrim in New Hampshire. Later a town was founded

nearby and called Derry! It was common in those days for families to intermarry. In the 18th and 19th centuries, first cousin marriages were very common. “If you marry a neighbour you know what you are getting!”

Linde remarked that over half of each generation has emigrated from Northern Ireland for the last 300 years. 2018 and 2019 will be the 300 anniversary of the 1718 emigration.

She hopes that it will be celebrated both from the point of view of those who stayed behind as well as from the point of view of those who emigrated.

John Pinkerton will be speaking about The Pinkertons of Ballaghmore on 5th April. On 3rd May retired Reverend Frances Bach will speak aboutHuman Trafficking in Northern Ireland.

The U3A stands for the University of the Third Age which is less of a university and more an activity and social club.

The many activities range from bridge to golf, photography to creative writing.