Hugh Duncan


This exhibit is concerned with the life and memories of Hugh Duncan. Hugh was born and reared in Belfast in the 1930's and 40's. He was one of nine children. His mother worked as a weaver before marriage and his father worked in the shipyard. Hugh shares memories of the hungry thirties as well as the Blitz of Belfast when he was evacuated. Hugh married Hannah after meeting her in a cinema queue and his stories detail their happy and loving marriage. They had one son, Thomas. Sadly, Hannah died in 2005 and Hugh reflects upon her life and expresses his gratitude for their long and happy marriage.


McTiernan, K. & O'Donnell, D. (2012) Life Histories Archive,


Childhood and Early Life

This section of the exhibit outlines the childhood and early life of Hugh.  He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the 1930s. In his stories, he describes his parents and their working lives and he notes the heroic efforts of his mother in rearing Hugh, his brothers and sisters.

Adolescence and Early Adulthood

This Section of the exhibit displays the stories, images and documents pertaining to the adolescence and early adulthood of Hugh.  He remembers his fondness for sports, especially jogging and playing football. 

The main event during his adolescence was World War II.  Hugh describes being evacuted from Belfast during the Blitz.  He was evacutated to Rostrevor with his family and has fond memories of experiencing the countryside and the entertainment provided for the American soldiers.  He also remembers the tragic death of his little brother Tommy, from pneumonia.

Marriage and Family

This section of the exhibit is concerned with Hugh's memories of marriage and family life.  He remembers meeting his wife, Hanna, as well as their courtship.  He describes the birth of his only son and the great joy this brought to Hugh and his wife.  Much to his sadness, his son subsequently emigrated to Vancouver, Canada.

Work and Employment

In this section of the exhibit Hugh shares his memories of work and employment. Hugh remembers working as a postman and his great friendship with his colleague Tommy.


This section of the exhibit details Hugh's memories of retirement.  He describes his educational achievements and the book he published on his memories of evacuation during World War II.  A significant event was his trip to Dublin to meet the president of the Irish Republic, Mary McAleese.


This sections details Hugh's reflections on his life.  In particular he remembers the troubles in Northern Ireland and the impact this had on his life.  He expresses his gratitude for the life he spent with his wife and he reflects on the differences between his childhood and that of children today.