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Ulster University recently hosted an archival project workshop for maritime heritage enthusiasts to gather at Cultra Manor for a one-day workshop on traditional boats, providing attendees with a unique opportunity to practice recording historic boats on vessels that are part of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum’s collection.

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and with partners at Historic Environment Division, Ulster Maritime Heritage, and National Museums NI, the Madill Archive is the result of decades of work by Harry Madill, who recorded a vanishing way of life in Irish and Canadian coastal communities through their traditional boats.

Harry Madill donated the archive to Ulster University, where a digitisation project has been established with the Public Record Office (NI) to make the material more accessible to members of the public.

Senior lecturer at Ulster University, Dr Wes Forsythe, who organised the workshop, said:

“Traditional draughtsmanship skills were at the heart of Harry Madill’s work and it was a pleasure to honour his efforts through the approach taken in this workshop. Our project will celebrate his legacy and ensure skills are passed on to the current generation of enthusiasts.

“Our maritime heritage takes many forms and our project highlights the enormous potential and goodwill of coastal communities to get involved in its preservation.”

Dr Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland, at The National Lottery Heritage Fund:

“It is fantastic news that thanks to the National Lottery players, we have been able to support the Madill Archive project to ensure that this important maritime heritage is preserved for years to come. Through events and the digitisation of the collection more people can learn about traditional boats in our coastal communities.

“We know that heritage in Northern Ireland can play a huge role in bringing people together and this partnership work is a fantastic example of that.”