One of Ulster Historical Foundation’s most successful research reports, certainly in terms of publicity, was that completed for Colonel James B. Irwin, whose family hailed from Altmore and Turnabarson, Pomeroy, Co.Tyrone.
Col. Irwin was an astronaut who flew on the Apollo 15 mission 26 July–07 August 1971. This fourth manned lunar mission was distinguished by the first utilisation of the famous lunar rover (see picture below). With Apollo 15 commander, Col. Dave Scott, Jim Irwin explored Hadley Rille and the Apennine Mountains of the moon. Another first is that as a committed Christian he was the only man to have quoted Scripture on the surface of the moon (Psalm 121:1 if you are interested).
The Foundation identified his ancestral line by locating the marriage on 29 April 1879 in Pomeroy (Altedesert) parish church, of John Irwin of Altmore, farmer, son of Thomas Irwin, to Mary Benson, daughter of Matthew Benson of Turnabarson.
In September 1979 Col. Irwin made a personal visit to Northern Ireland. He visited his ancestral home in Pomeroy, and met many local people during his trip, which included a number of well-publicised social events.
In appreciation for helping him to reconnect with his Ulster roots, Col. Irwin presented the Foundation with two signed colour photographs of his moon flight – stunning pictures which are employed in this publication.