Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Death of Bill Maguire

I was sorry to hear of the death of Dr Bill Maguire, a distinguished historian and museum keeper.

William Alexander Maguire, always known as 'Bill', was the son of a Methodist minister and spent part of his childhood in county Donegal.  He was educated at Methodist College, Belfast, and St Andrews University in Scotland and was a teacher in Friends School Lisburn, before moving in 1964 to become head of history at Belfast Royal Academy.  It was there that I met him and he was one of the teachers whose lessons encouraged my interest in history.

Bill left BRA in 1969  to become headmaster of Regent House in Newtownards and remained there until 1979.  In 1980 he joined the staff of the Ulster Museum as keeper of local history and then as head of the division of human history.  Later he became deputy director and he retired in 1980.

During those years at the Ulster Museum he was responsible for a number of significant exhibitions, including Kings in conflict, which related to the tercentenary of the Battle of the Boyne, and Up in Arms!, which marked the bicentenary of the 1798 rebellion.  Those were excellent exhibitions and I still refer from time to time to the magnificent catalogues that accompanied them.

Bill Maguire was a fine historian, a respected author and a good teacher.  He was alto a thorough gentleman and I remember his classes with affection. 

He died on 10 January but I only became aware of his death when I read an obituary in the Irish Times last month and there was another in the Belfast Telegraph last week by Dr Brian Walker.

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