Since the opportunities for travel are limited Downe u3a set up a Go Local Group. Dundrum and Loughinisland may not be major tourist attractions but, as members of Downe u3a’s Go Local Group found recently, walking round these villages with a knowledgeable local guide and hearing their stories can be very enjoyable and memorable.
Starting from Dundrum Castle, from which the sunny view that day was spectacular, Marian, the Chair of Shimna u3a, took the group on a stroll round the village. She pointed out buildings which they had seen often enough but had not realized the stories behind them or who had lived there. There was the garage where you could get a haircut, but only on Saturday afternoons. There was the debate over the naming of Dam Lane. There were the stories about American soldiers during the war.
Participants on these outings have generally been aware of the places visited but, as one member said, “I have driven through Dundrum countless times but not once have I stopped for anything more than food or drink, never realized what is in front of the new houses along the shore and never walked up to the dam.”
After having added some fables to Marian’s tales of Dundrum, Paddy, a Downe u3a member, took the group on a visit to Loughinisland, where his ancestors can be traced back to the early 18th century. In the current church he pointed out details, such as the stained glass images, which the casual observer would not have recognized. They then strolled through the graveyard with its spectacular view over the lough, hearing the story of the island from which the village derives its name and the history of the McCartans. Members learned about the stories behind the grave inscriptions and, as Paddy told them, sometimes looking at what’s missing can be just as interesting, as, for example, why there was a 150 year gap between the inscriptions on his own family gravestone.