Two of Derry's leading community-based organisations, The Playhouse and Holywell Trust, have instituted a new annual Hill of Derry History Lecture, dedicated to the memory of local historian, the late Annesley Malley.
It was with sadness that The Playhouse was to learn of the recent passing of Annesley Malley, respected local surveyor and historian and Playhouse-friend. Talking recently about the legacy of his work, Pauline Ross of The Playhouse stated:
"We were shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of our friend and colleague, Annesley. The value of his knowledge of townscape, buildings and history is evident in the on-going programme of conservation and restoration of the built heritage of the Walled City. In The Playhouse's case, Annesley's research on the historical background of our Artillery Street premises formed an important part of the Conservation Plan, which was essential for levering in funding for the building's restoration. But more than assisting in funding proposals, this valuable information very much formed the foundation for our regular talks and tours of our historic premises. Annesley was also instrumental in working on the various new art commissions for the Playhouse buildings, all of which have a heritage theme."
On the very day when staff of the Playhouse learned of Annesley's passing, Niall McCaughan, General Manager, was in London, co-incidentally on his way to the British Science Museum to track down an historical artefact that had been brought to his attention through an historical talk that Annesley had given two years previously: the model of the first bridge to span the Foyle commissioned by the Earl Bishop in 1771. Niall had initiated a process of organising to bring the model back to Derry on loan from the Museum, to be in permanent display and remarked:
"Annesley had also been very excited about The Playhouse's current theatre commission on the life of one of the city's most colourful characters who left a major imprint on this part of this part of the world and further afield, the Earl Bishop, written by Ken Mc Cormack. It is hoped that the model could be back in time for the premier of the production".
As a tribute to the work of Annesley Malley and the army of amateur and professional historians who contribute so much to our knowledge of the history of Derry and the Foyle Valley, The Playhouse and The Holywell Trust have instituted the Annual Hill of Derry History Lecture. Announcing this new commitment to Derry's history, Eamonn Deane Director of the Holywell Trust explained:
"Our individual and community identity is very much shaped by the rich history of the special place in which we live. As a city, we are indebted to an army of professional and amateur historians, who continuously mine repositories of this great knowledge. We have instituted this annual lecture to bring fresh insights on the history of the Hill of Derry to the widest possible audience"
The 2012 Hill of Derry History Lecture "Derry before Londonderry, the history the Hill of Derry, 600-1600" will be delivered by eminent historian Dr Brian Lacey, Director of the Discovery Programme in Dublin. According to Dr Lacey:
"The building of Plantation Londonderry was a seismic historic shift. Subsequently many factors influenced the development of the city that we know today, only a few of which could be traced to what had been there before. This lecture will have two themes; what was the history of Derry before the plantation and, since the latter, what retrospection on its medieval settlement influenced the modern city."
The lecture will be introduced by local historian, writer and broadcaster, Ken Mc Cormack. Both Ken and Brian were close friends of Annesley.
This event is free, made possible by the Heritage Lottery-funded Walled City DiverseCity Project. This project seeks to unpack the legacy of the City Walls (on place, history and identity), contributing to the "purposeful inquiry" theme of the Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture year.
The lecture will take place at the Playhouse on Tuesday 7thFebruary 2012, at 8pm.
For more information about the 2012 Hill of Derry History Lecture contact The Playhouse at Tel: (028) 71268027 or check out www.derryplayhouse.co.uk
Annesley Malley, Paula Thompson (Artist) and Pauline Ross (Playhouse)