‘History Live’ hits Banagher College

By Imelda Minnock

 

Nuno gets to grips with a revolution era gun

 

On Friday last, we were brought to see the History Live talk. It was, I have to admit, one of the most enjoyable history classes ever. (No offence to my teachers, but you know…they don’t usually wave swords around and explain exactly how a gun works.) The man who was presenting the talk began right back at Neolithic man, and not only described the time, but also got some very eager (well, mostly) volunteers to try on reproductions of what they wore and gave the more sensible ones weapons. He was an enthusiastic speaker and also had plenty of jokes, a lot of which centred around what you could do to the teacher with the weapons (hypothetically, of course).
Next we proceeded to the Bronze Age, and the volunteers for this age wore clothes rather than skins and had slightly more advanced weapons (you know. strong enough to put a few people you didn’t like into hospital for a few days). Then came the mighty Romans, with their superbly organised army that pretty much took over the world. There was a good laugh at the heavy armour and rather envious glances at the swords from some of the boys.

After explaining how the Roman Empire fell (it basically got fat and lazy, for those of you who never went to history class), we toured to the land of saints and scholars that was Ireland of the time. And that Ireland (you’d never mix it up with today’s brand, anyway) was the Ireland that was ruled by monks, and not just the praying sort either. These monks were good soldiers and it turned out they needed to be, because the big bad guys, Vikings, invaded their gold-rich monasteries. A classmate was duly dressed up, complete with chain mail and shield bearing his crest.

And after that, we went to medieval Britain the battle of roses and ascension of King Henry the Eighth to the throne. After that were the Normans, who were ancestors to of the Vikings (blood is thicker than water) decided under the persuasion of King Henry the Eighth to invade Ireland. Then the Battle of the Boyne was described in all its gory detail (I personally had to hold a pike, which the locals stuck the heads of enemies they had well beheaded and paraded them around for all to see.)

From this point onwards, the talk was all into weapons. First the longbow, then the crossbow, and, at the Battle of the Boyne, the introduction of the first guns, called muskets, for those of you that are interested. We preceded revolvers machine guns, submachine guns and plenty in between. They was lots of talk about magazines, cartridges and non-stop firing and the male half of the class could probably have rhymed off for you, but I still can’t tell the difference between a musket and an AK-47.It was one of the most interesting talks I’ve ever been at and I have nothing but praise for it. It definitely comes highly recommended and I would do it all again without any hesitation.

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