NI man's war collection under threat

NI man's war collection under threat

A Ballyclare man with a unique collection of war memorabilia fears he could be forced to sell some of his most valued pieces because of funding cuts.

David McCallion is the man behind the War Years Remembered collection, which features pieces from the First and Second World Wars.

He started collecting at just eight years old, and now takes pieces on tour to teach school children more about the battles.

"I started doing this because their stories need to be kept preserved and to be told. As I went along I've gathered other people's stories so it's not just my own family's history, it's everybody's family history," he told UTV.

There are significant expenses to housing such a collection, not least the running costs of maintaining old vehicles and period uniform and Mr McCallion described it as a "constant battle of conservation".

The collector depends on donations and loans pieces to museums, but now a lack of funding means some of the pieces could be going under the hammer.

"This collection does not really belong to me anymore, it belongs to the people of Ireland. It has grown and it's important that those stories are kept and preserved," he explained.

"If not we are going to lose them, because slowly but surely we are losing all the Second World War veterans."

Many of the items are collector's items that could fetch a high price, but for Mr McCallion the personal pieces that were carried into battle by soldiers have the biggest value.

"I've so many rare items that museums don't have in this country - just like the Irish army armoured car.

"There's only four of them left in the world, it's quite a unique piece it also tells a story from across the border, so it shows both sides," he explained.

Some of the pieces from the War Years Remembered collection will be on display in warehouse space at Dennison industrial estate in Ballyclare between 10am and 6pm on Saturday.

"These are pieces that need to be shown permanently to the public, so that we can all learn from them," he added.

© UTV

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