Hugh A Boyd:-

This book is dedicated to the many elderly people and children who have come together in sharing their history and heritage. It is carrying water to the river to state that both Mr. Dallat and Mrs. Gibson are eminently qualified to write this book.

Mr. Dallat has served on committees and councils associated with the elderly, health, the countryside and local historical studies, and been headmaster of a school. He has taken a great personal interest in the welfare of elderly folk and, I believe that I am correct in stating that, from a comparatively early age, he interested himself in the local Abbeyfield institution and its committee, of which he was a valued member.

Mrs. Gibson is a senior lecturer in social work at the Coleraine campus of the University of Ulster. She has had long experience in social work practice in mental health settings and social work education.

With such admirable backgrounds it is not surprising that ‘Rooms of Time’ can be justly regarded as a definitive work in its own particular field; in short, a first-class account by two thoroughly competent and experienced contributors to this important field of social studies — studies that will increase in value and significance as time marches on.

This publication represents the outcome of the Playback Project organised by the Department of Health and Social Service in International Youth Year, for an extensive oral history project based on reminiscence and recollection in Northern Ireland.

An oral history project proved particularly appropriate in these parts where the origins of oral history go back for centuries.

To take at random but one example: the oral tradition associated with bull fighting or baiting thought by some to have been a possible origin of the well known Lammas Fair in Ballycastle in mid-sixteenth century times.

As stated in the preface to the book: “Oral tradition and folklore have had an honourable place from earliest times in the presentation and transmission of the culture of Ireland”.

This book deals in considerable detail with such themes as Hearth and Home, Delivery Men and Corner Shops, the Working Life, in Sickness and in Health, Far Off Fields, Schooldays, Games and Toys, Recreation and Special Days, Public Transport and the Two World Wars.

The personality of Northern Ireland is graphically portrayed in depth under each of those chapter headings.

In the course of the 206 pages that make up the book there is not a dull page; not only so but the photographic material is — as indeed it ought to be — highly relevant to the text.

It includes no less that 84excellently produced illustrations. Each is acknowledged with thanks and the name of the person or organisation appertaining to its ownership set out in detail in the final page.

The illustrative material is not only of a high quality, but reflects much credit on provincial book production, and is most varied in character.

It extends from a typical farmhouse kitchen, circa 1912; Ballymena shops, circa 1930; Balnamore Mill, near Ballymoney, circa 1930; Belfast shipyard, c/rco 1910; taking flax out of the dam at Cushendun, circa 1930, to the more sombre photograph of the 36th Ulster Division before leaving Belfast for the Battle of the Somme, 1st July, 1916, and Peace Day at Castle Junction in that city on 8 August, 1919.

The authors state that they have attempted to bring together some of the many and varied responses received (numbering several hundred) in the hope that they will be of interest to Ulster people generally, that they will also serve as a guide to teachers and pupils in the social studies and history departments of schools and colleges and that they will prove suitable as trigger material for social workers, nurses, occupational therapists and others engaged in reminiscence therapy with old people.

If ever there was a really worth while volume produced on the various interesting themes comprehended in the pages of “Rooms of Time”, this is certainly such a volume. It would be difficult to contemplate — book wise — a more acceptable item for the visitor to Northern Ireland than to purchase a copy of this book, not to mention a more acceptable gift for the Christmas season.

Human history, it has been said, is a varied landscape, full of lights and shadows, with a background of great mountains and a foreground crowded with incident.

After all, history—and not least social history as portrayed in this book—is not the dull mausoleum of things finished, but rather the record of time lived, with inspiration for the future in the achievement of the past.

I would be greatly surprised if “Rooms of Time” does not command a wide sale and it is certainly entirely without reserve that I commend it.

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