Northern Ireland

Detective work: East Belfast researcher tries to solve WW1 mystery

Image caption Do you recognise this photo? A WW1 project in east Belfast is trying to track down the soldier's relatives

A World War One researcher in east Belfast is asking for the public's help to trace the relatives of a Royal Irish Rifles soldier.

Soldier Arthur Mulligan is believed to have lived at 9 Utility Street, off Donegall Road in south Belfast.

Two bibles containing photos of him, other soldiers and a number of delicate items have been given to Jason Burke, a researcher from the community project, East Belfast and the Great War, in the hopes of reuniting them with their rightful owners.

Mr Burke said he had been given a "treasure trove of information" and told BBC News NI how the 100-year-old items came into his possession.

'No use'

"I was actually only given them last Friday, by an elderly man who had contacted me," he said.

"He wasn't sure how they came to be in his possession, but said he found them in his house and was just going to throw them in the bin, as he was getting on a bit and had no use for them."

Jason said the man did not believe they belonged to his family because they did not share the same surname, but that he hoped that Jason could help to work out who they actually belonged to.

Image caption Jason Burke brought the bibles into BBC News NI to explain more about them

When Jason opened the bibles, he found a number of small tokens inside them, including a couple of pictures of Arthur Mulligan, newspaper clippings, photos of other WW1 soldiers, and even more unusually, a peacock feather and a dried flower.

Window into soldier's world

"I'm not sure how long these items have been in the bibles, but certainly it makes the mystery a little bit more intriguing," Jason said.

He said the bibles, which contain lots of different handwritten notes and dates, are just a small window into life as a soldier during the war.

"I think the bibles may belong to Mulligan, but the other photos of soldiers could have been his friends, who I'm trying to find out more about as well," Jason said.

He added that a number of people have already contacted him with information about Mulligan families who may have lived in the same street in Belfast many years ago.

Image caption Jason found a number of unusual items inside the 100-year-old bibles, and is hoping they will jog someone's memory
Image caption One of the more unusual items discovered inside one of the bibles
Image caption The two bibles contain a number of photos of soldiers and dates of marriages, births and deaths

Jason said the bibles contain plenty of interesting clues to work with, and he is hopeful that someone will eventually come forward to claim them.

"They're something that a family member may want to have, and so I have my detective hat on to try and get to the root of it all," Jason added.

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