A new website has been launched to help promote the folklore and oral history of County Clare.
www.clarememories.ie is the website of Cuimhneamh an Chláir, the Clare Oral History and Folklore Group, who have been documenting the memories of Clare’s oldest citizens over the last two years.
The entirely voluntary group have already amassed considerable collection of material amounting of over three hundred and thirty interviews with people aged between sixty five and one hundred and six. The group were established in 2009 and comprises volunteers from all across county Clare.
Outgoing Mayor of Clare Cllr. Pat Hayes, who is also a founding member and the Cathaoirleach of Cuimhneamh an Chláir, performed the launch, as one of his final duties as Mayor of the county.
Speaking at the launch, Mayor Hayes said: ‘Just three years ago, Cuimhneamh an Chláir was an idea. Now we have built one of the largest and most successful folklore collection groups in the country. We have developed all aspects of the project including collection techniques, which included the training of over thirty volunteers or Cuairteoirí across Clare and the development of a systematic, countywide approach to the documentation of our folklore. In addition, we have developed a very strong education and outreach programme. The new website will allow us to further reach members of the public, to provide information to the people of Clare and beyond and to stimulate increased support and involvement in the group.”
Mayor Hayes, who is a native of Caher in East Clare, remarked on the intensive levels of recording, which have taken place as well as the amount of outreach work done by the group since its formation.
“Visitors to the website will be struck when they read through the progress and activity of the group in such a short period of time. The projects section on the site alone is full of examples of how the group have taken the material back out to the public. We hope that the new website will be another aid in promoting the oral history and folklore of our county for years to come,” he concluded.
The website, which was supported by the Clare Local Development Company, provides information on Cuimhneamh an Chláir’s collection programme as well as their outreach and education initiatives. Viewers can also play samples of the groups recordings as well as learn about aspects of Clare’s folklore, like old Irish words used by older people in Clare as well as Biddy Early, Bríd Uí Choisteala and other folklore figures in the county. An interactive map shows an example of where the group have conducted interviews across Clare and a sample of the summaries conducted for each interview can be read. Of the almost three hundred people interviewed by Cuimhneamh an Chláir, over forty have passed away, including ten people who were over on hundred years old when they were interviewed.
According to Frances Madigan of the Cuimhneamh an Chláir Executive Committee, the group aim to continue with their intensive collection programme in the coming years but will also maintain their ambition of taking the material back out the public at every opportunity.
“It’s vital that we make the material as available as we can to the people of Clare in the short term through our listening room concept, ‘Come here till I tell ya’ and through radio programmes as well as public workshops. However in the long term, we aim to make all the material available to the people of Clare and are working towards that on a continuous basis. Features will be added to the website over the coming months based on collected material all across county Clare, exploring themes such as farming in the old days, electrification, beliefs, calendar customs etc. In addition, we will be adding a ‘memory of the week ‘selected from our archive, for people to listen to and enjoy,” she concluded.
The website launch took place at the Clare Education Centre, where Cuimhneamh an Chláir have an office space. Others to speak at the launch included Pat Harahan, Director of the Clare Education Centre and Sue Target of Clare Local Development Company. The website can be seen at www.clarememories.ie and the group can also be found on Facebook.
Cuimhneamh an Chláir are available for further comment at 087 9160373 or at email@example.com