The partnership will see a unique archive of images, interviews and footage documenting the Organisation’s work over the past half a century find a home in the County at the new Peace Campus.
Cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council, Cllr David Maxwell, who championed this transatlantic collaboration with Project Children said ‘Monaghan County Council are honoured to provide a permanent home for the Project Children archive in our new facility at the Peace Campus. Both organisations have a common goal of working hard to provide a better life for the people we serve. I look forward to welcoming our entire community and the many thousands of visitors who will join us in celebrating Project Children’s 50th anniversary in 2025.’
Chairman and Co-Founder of Project Children, Denis Mulcahy said: ‘As the chairman of Project Children, I am very pleased about our partnership with Monaghan County Council and it is an honour to perpetuate our 50 year legacy at the Monaghan Peace Campus. The move is garnering great support from our key Project Children volunteers both in the US and Ireland, and we are entering this next phase of our program with a renewed focus on educating the next generation on the importance of peace.’
Speaking of the new partnership, Monaghan County Council Chief Executive Robert Burns said: ‘Project Children was about bringing children from different backgrounds together in a safe space so that they could learn from each other. The Peace Campus has the same ambition of having a transformative effect on Monaghan and the surrounding region. We are delighted to have the opportunity to formally document and to celebrate this remarkable programme which changed lives for many growing up on the border.’
Along with the archive, the Council is in the early stages of working with Project Children to plan a major series of exhibitions, events and programmes to mark the 50th anniversary of this transformative project in 2025.
A launch event hosted by Monaghan County Council will take place at the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan Town at midday on Friday 9th February. Denis Mulcahy, co-founder and chairman of Project Children will travel from New York to attend.
The celebrate this new partnership, a screening of How to Defuse a Bomb: The Project Children Story, the award-winning documentary narrated by Liam Neeson which documents the compelling story of Project Children, will be shown at the Garage Theatre at 6pm.
Here is a link to the documentary’s short trailer that offers an overview on the narrative.
About Project Children
Project Children was started by bothers Denis and Patrick Mulcahy and others in 1975. Following their emigration from Cork to New York in the early 1960’s, Denis went on to become a bomb disposal officer and celebrated member of the New York Police Department.
After watching too many news accounts of violence in Northern Ireland, Denis and Patrick reasoned that if Protestant and Catholic children could spend time together in an environment that was not toxic with war, they would be less likely as adults to hurl bombs at each other, and Project Children was born. That first summer in 1975, they brought 6 children, 3 Protestant and 3 Catholic, to spend the summer in New York State. Over the intervening years, the project expanded to see over 23,000 children from Northern Ireland travel to the United States to experience life in a different environment, a peaceful place. Spanning across 22 states, the program enlisted the help of over 16,000 host families to deliver the volunteer run program across the US.
The resounding legacy of Project Children is the experience of love that was felt by the children who took part and their host families. This incendiary story of life, love and tragedy was captured in the multi-award winning film How to Defuse a Bomb – The Project Children Story, narrated by Liam Neeson.
The project officially came to a close in 2015 after 40 years and over 23,000 children had the chance to travel to America for a summer break. Now, the Project Children Summer Work & Travel Program provides a once in a lifetime opportunity for students from Northern Ireland and Ireland; a seven-week ‘cultural exchange’ program runs each summer, and gives students the chance to immerse themselves in US culture by living and working in the US.
The Peace Campus
The Peace Campus is due to open to the public in Spring 2024 and will be home to several cultural and community services including Monaghan County Museum, Monaghan town library and Monaghan Foroige. This project has been funded through the Peace IV Shared Spaces initiative, which is managed by the SEUPB.
This service, when opened, is expected to have a transformative effect on the County and the surrounding border region. It will act as a conduit, a safe space where people from different cultural, religious, economic, and social backgrounds can come together in a truly shared public realm that will nurture and help develop better relations at a local level in an area that has been severally impacted by the legacy of the Troubles.