This project brings together Spreading the Words (a project of the electronic Dictionary of the Irish language), the Northern Ireland Place-name Project and Unlocking the Vikings. Together, we explore the intangible culture of the area around Lough Neagh, from medieval times to the modern day, using tales from the Middle Ages, place and personal names, historical records and orally collected traditions.
Given the prevalence of ‘dreadful deeds, unnatural happenings, revolting remedies and worrying words’ in our research, we chose to present the project under the title 'Horrible Histories' in the hope that this would appeal to a young audience as well as adult members of the community. The central activity of the project, an online presentation and interactive quiz held on 31 July, was framed within a broader social-media campaign featuring ‘horrible histories’ and ‘horrible stories’ of medieval Ireland.
Amongst other insights, the group discussed and shared information on the cultural purpose of naming-legends, on how retellings change the details and focus of stories, on how texts from the Middle Ages document natural phenomena and environmental change, on little-known aspects of hygiene and medicine pertaining to the Norse in Ireland, and how place names surviving to the present day show evidence of multilingual interactions involving Irish, Scots, English and Norse.
In all, the project aims to characterise Lough Neagh as an area of significance over a long time-period, with a history of cultural diversity and a wealth of local traditions and resources.