In The Beginning
The opening of the Inverbrena Center in 1995, built by cross-community effort, was an opportunity for us to come together, form a group, recall our past and put it in print and latterly in the internet for posterity. The History and folklore, told and written by our local people is our main focus.
To find a name for our center which would embrace the area of Strangford Kilclief, Killard, Ballyhoran and further inland. The ancient name Inverbrena appears in the Annals of the Four Masters as Inver-Brena -- the mouth of the Bren river which flowed into Lough Cuan ( Strangford Lough) Even today this area may be spoken of as "The Bren Country " and the Lough as "across the river"
During our exchanges of memories, yarns, jokes and banter at our lively monthly Inverbrena meetings we found much to do and write about. Memories of school days, pictures dating beyond 1800, current events and special occasions are all recorded. We visit older residents to record recollections of their lives and transcribe them just as they are told to us. These are wonderful insights into how they loved, lived and struggled through the hard times but enjoyed days at regattas and sports days with their families and friends.
Another of our interests are place names. With the new postal address we are very aware that lots of our lovely town lands names and field names full of history, are gradually disappearing. With this in mind we try to keep these alive in various ways. Again there are foundations of little hamlets where a past generation has lived and might have been forgotten but for 97 year old George Jackson, now living in Vancouver, recalled for me every step of the Post Run he used to do on foot while helping with the excess mail at Christmas time 80 years ago, thus ensuring that the town land names and family names are recorded.
It is amazing what treasures have been unearthed and have come our way. One such example is the Church of Ireland magazines "HOME WORDS" dating back to the 1800's. Many of these are reproduced in our journals telling of school reports and values in the life of the past generation. Then again we were very lucky to have Peggy (Kane ) Hannah's exhaustive diary giving a very interesting account of her days "downstairs" as a maid in Castleward. The family of the well-known local writer, PJ Lennon, has kindly donated his album of stories. Some of these pertaining to our area are reproduced from time to time in our annuals.
Poetry also features regularly in our pages. The late Rev E W Kennedy gave us permission to reprint from his little booklet of lovely poems. There are many contributions too from our members and local poets: some thought provoking, others profound and of course the humorous odes and some nostalgic laments from bye-gone days.
Exiles seem to have vivid recall of home and are happy to write of their lives when they lived in a world bounded by the periphery of their own locality. We are lucky to have several of these stories revealing the sweet innocence of children only 50 years ago. One such story, sent to us from England by the late Joe Cull of Ballynarry, was written for his family, shortly before his early death.
In 2004 the Northern Ireland Publication Resource ran a competition " Celebrating Local History". We entered our publication and out out 120 entries we were among the 16 short listed and in the final result we were highly commended and were delighted to have come runners up in our section.
To conclude I think the following verse sums up what we try to do . I quote
For the olden memories fast are flying from us,
Oh ! That some kind hand would come ...
And bind them in a garland e're the present hardens
And the past grows cold and dumb.
P Denvir ( Editor) 2008