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The University of Ulster has launched its annual summer programme of Talks and Tours which promises to deliver a packed schedule of events covering everything from history, literature, archaeology and jewellery design.Popular local historian Alex Blair starts the series with North Antrim’s American Links, an account of the contribution North Antrim has made to the history of America, particularly the emigrants from this area whose descendants in America produced two Presidents, a Vice-President and leaders in the law, the army, literature and the church.

This will be followed by Rathlin Island: A Journey Through Time when Rosemary McConkey, a Research Fellow in the University’s School of Environmental Sciences, will explore the fascinating archaeology, history and folklore of the island, from prehistoric times to the present day, including some exciting new discoveries made during recent excavations.Included in the Talks and Tours programme is the first of a series of events to celebrate the John Hewitt Collection in the University of Ulster Library and to mark the launch of the Ulster Poetry Project.This Collection comprises the personal library and literary archive of the poet John Hewitt, which he bequeathed to the University of Ulster. �Janet Mackle, Cultural Development Officer at the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus, said: “This is one of the most significant Collections in the UK and Ireland and it covers over 50 years of Hewitt's prolific and varied writing career.

“Containing over 5,000 books and journals, it includes rare volumes, journals, first editions of virtually every collection of Irish poetry since the 1950s, notebooks of poems composed between 1926 and 1984, over 3,500 of which are unpublished, a copy of John Hewitt’s unpublished autobiography ‘A North Light’, radio scripts from the 1940's and notes for his book about the rhyming weavers. There are also short stories, verse plays and reviews of books and art exhibitions.”

She added: “The Collection reflects Hewitt's enormous activity and influence on the development of art and literature in Northern Ireland.� A recent award has made it possible to start digitizing the Collection and the first phase, including some of the books and rare 19th century Ulster texts, is nearing completion and will shortly be accessible online. This digital online archive will provide a unique resource for anyone interested in Irish poetry, modern Irish culture, history and folklore.“The Ulster Poetry Project will seek to continue Hewitt’s preservation and celebration of Ulster poetry. Future plans include developing his notebooks as an online resource, publishing the autobiography and other projects in keeping with Hewitt’s interests in history, culture, poetry and literature.” Across the Roaring Hills: John Hewitt, Poet and Book Collector, Frank Ferguson, lecturer in English, will explore Hewitt’s work and discuss some of the poems from his collection. Admission to this talk is free of charge.

Other talks in the Talks and Tours programme include: Robert Dinsmoor: New Hampshire’s Scots-Irish Poet by Alister McReynolds; Gold, Myths and Monsters with Aideen Hunter examining the gold hordes, Irish legends and early settlement of the Northwest; Baubles with Brains and Materials with Meaning with Anne Boylan discussing the rocesses leading to production as well as the use of materials and skills employed in the creation of the jewellery by University graduates on display in Flowerfield during Talks and Tours.Talks and Tours will run from 15 July to 14 August 2010. The talks take place in Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart at 7.30pm each Tuesday and Thursday up to Tuesday 3 August. It is not necessary to book in advance.Everyone is welcome.

For further information contact Cultural Development on: 028 7032 4449 or visit: