The Carnlough Heritage Hub exhibition was installed in February 2018 in the upper floor of the listed former Town Hall, built by the Marchioness of Londonderry in 1856. The exhibition was designed to be an orientation space to encourage public participation in walking tours exploring the heritage of the village, its wider context and beyond into the Glens of Antrim. Community volunteers played an invaluable part in the development of the exhibition and in the opening up of the exhibition by acting as interpretive guides.
The volunteers researched local sites such as lime kilns and harbours, carrying out archival research and engaging with the community to share the aims of the project and encourage local people to share memories and images. Additionally, the volunteers developed and delivered public talks and walks and contributed to a tourism film. The volunteers have also taken the time to complete World Host Ambassador training in order to improve their tourism skills, and one of the volunteers has gained a tour guiding award and regularly leads tours through the village.
The hub has become an important community resource, and has led to new projects which extend the reach of the exhibition. This includes “Shaped by Industry, Shared with Pride”, which used participative theatre as a way to animate heritage sites and draw in more visitors. The exhibition has attracted a number of wider UK, Ireland and overseas visitors but has been particularly successful at attracting local visitors. This is a testament to the hard work put in by the volunteers to engage with the local community and future projects will only serve to strengthen this connection.