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Community groups use unique Film Centre scheme to tell their stories



Date Published: {J}

It’s a new organisation, but when members of Tiernascragh Heritage Project in south-east Galway were invited by Galway Film Centre to make a short documentary recording their work, they leaped at the opportunity.

The film will be screened in Galway Town Hall this Sunday along with documentaries from four other community groups around the city and county as part of the Film Centre’s Project ID scheme, now in its 10th year.

Earlier this year, the Tiernascragh Heritage Group discovered a series of essays written in 1937 by nine children from the local national school as part of an Irish Folklore Commission project in the new Irish State.

The 74-year-old essays consisted of legends, superstitions, pastimes, prayers, curses and other oral history which the children had collected from their grandparents and other parishioners, giving an extraordinary glimpse into ordinary people’s lives as far back as the 1800s.

The 1937 project was carried out under the supervision of teacher Éamon Quigley and the resulting essays are now in the Department of Folklore in UCD, explains Tiernascragh Heritage Project Chairman, Pat Madden. Members were granted access to the original documents and were thrilled with what these revealed about the history of this place, located between Portumna and Eyrecourt.

Around the same time, they saw an ad seeking applicants for Galway Film Centre ID Projects, which helps community groups to tell their own stories while learning how to make films in the process.

They applied to make a film and the result is a documentary shot over several days, in which local children – several of them related to the original pupils – read the essays.

“There are a number of aspects to it,” says Pat. “It helps us to tell the story and it remembers the local people who wrote the essays.”

A classroom from the 1930s was recreated in the Lady Gregory Museum in Kiltartan, thanks to support from local historian Sr de Lourdes Fahy, while much of the other footage was shot in Tiernascragh.

“Where possible we tried to get a child related to the original essay-writer to read that essay,” says Pat. “The process showed those kids what life was like for their grandparents and older relations.”

When filming began, five of the original nine participants were alive. One person has since died and the remaining four are in their 80s.

People aged from five to 90 were involved in making the film, and in addition to learning about local history, they also learned technical skills, says Pat.

“Galway Film Centre taught us how to use the camera, to control the light and sound and gave us the skills to do that. And the editor was brilliant.

This ID Projects scheme, which began in 2000, allows communities throughout Galway to tell their stories via short films, which they make themselves, with full support from trained staff at Galway Film Centre, explains Nuala Broderick who co-ordinates the scheme.

The ID Projects was the brainchild of Galway Film Centre which sought funding from the Arts Council for the scheme ten years ago because film equipment – once prohibitively expensive – had become more affordable. Galway City and County VEC also came on board and other organisations may give funding for specific projects.


“Galway is the only place I know of that is doing this,” says Nuala, adding that the Centre works with communities in Mayo and Clare on similar schemes, but without similar funding.

The Centre advertises for participants each year, and interested groups apply and go through an interview process.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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