A new exhibition is set to shine the spotlight on the built heritage of our area. ‘Marks of Time Strabane’ is a 50-piece collection from architect and artist from Derry, Manus Deery. It covers the town of Strabane and the historic buildings of its environs.
Highlights include the town itself with many interesting structures such as its Georgian buildings, reflective of the prosperity of the Eighteenth Century and its fine churches.
“The Barony of Strabane in Co Tyrone has had a long and often turbulent history, but it also has a wealth of historic buildings and structures,” Manus remarked. “These reflect this history, the unique geography of the area and also the influence of national and international trends.
“In 50 water-colour sketches this exhibition shows how the built structures of the region reveal its story. Mesolithic wedge tombs, plantation castles, industrial development, ideal villages and modern developments are all employed to this end.
“The result is a reminder that, though turbulent, past generations have created many beautiful and interesting features and places within this area, and that there is much to be proud of.”
According to Manus, the Strabane Canal is key to understanding the area’s prosperity as are the watermills in the foothills of the Sperrins.
He continued, “Further out, the village of Sion Mills was a model of benevolent industrial investment in the Nineteenth Century and its buildings strongly illustrate this.
“Newtownstewart has three castles to tell an earlier part of the story – the influence of the Normans, how Gaelic Ireland responded to that and the more urban focus of the new Scottish Landlords following the Seventeenth Century
Plantation of Ulster.
“Ardstraw reflects an earlier period again with an enigmatic medieval graveyard on a hill above the village conveying some of the atmosphere of its importance in Early Christian times.”
Manus Deery is a principal conservation architect in the Historic Environment Division of the Department for Communities and this personal project reflects a 20 year career visiting historic buildings and sites across the North.
“Through my day job I have been privileged to visit and get to know many of the structures illustrated in this exhibition,” he said.
“The Strabane region has a great wealth of historic features and through these drawings I hope to celebrate and highlight just some of these and the story that they tell. There is much to cherish and be proud of in the Strabane area.”
Proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to housing charity ‘Gable’ the Strabane branch of Shelter-NI.
To coincide with the exhibition Manus will give an illustrated talk on the same theme, incorporating almost 100 sketches, on Thursday February 2 at 7pm in the Alley. This talk will form part of the Spring Lecture Series of the Strabane Historical Society. Marks of Time runs at the Alley until February 10.