JUST over five years ago The Ulster Star announced the launch of a new website www.glenavyhistory.com which was the brainchild of ‘The Digger’ better known for his local history column in the Star.
The aim of the website is to provide an insight into the “rich history of the village and surrounding district of Glenavy.”
Since the website’s launch in November 2007 it has been visited by tens of thousands of people all over the world and many people have found references to ancestors who once resided in the Glenavy, Crumlin, Ballinderry, Dundrod, Killead and Stoneyford areas. A message forum on the site has been utilised by over 150 people worldwide.
These messages are left on a regular basis by people seeking to find out information about their family history or the history of the area.
The site is maintained by web designer Vicki Strickland, who lives in Australia.
Vicki is a descendant of the Oakman family who have strong links to the Glenavy area.
She also runs a website ‘Oakmans of Ireland’ which provides in depth information of the Oakman name in this part of the world.
The Glenavyhistory.com website is a collection of local history, stories, photographs, old postcards, local ballads, poems and memories and includes transcription of headstones in many of the local graveyards within the area.
The Digger has now expanded the audience by linking into Facebook and posting hundreds of photographs and information from the original website.
Within a three day period audience figures on the Facebook site increased by 600 per cent with one post having been read almost 800 times.
The majority of the audience had been unaware of the existence of the local history website.
“It certainly has caused quite a stir,” the Digger said. “A number of people have found photographs of their parents, grandparents and great grandparents in old school photographs which have been placed onto the Facebook site.”
He added: “Within a few hours of one photograph being put onto the site one lady had visited an elderly neighbour who provided the names of almost all the people who appeared in the photograph.
“Another lady discovered some historical facts about an old ring fort that she drove past every day. She had previously never really taken any notice of it before.
“Seeing a photograph of it on the site sparked her interest and she decided to ask a few questions about it.”
A number of people have also added some photographs of local interest from their own private collections.
“It is fantastic to see that old photographs no longer need to be confined to bottom drawers or in some cases destroyed.
“We now have forums where material from yesteryear can be displayed, shared and enjoyed by all,” he added.
If you have any material of a historical nature relating to the Glenavy, Crumlin, Ballinderry, Dundrod, Killead or Stoneyford area and you would like to share it with others then please contact The Digger at firstname.lastname@example.org.