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Catriona Crowe of The national Archives, centre front, with Helen Walsh, County Librarian; and Clare Root's members, Eric Shaw, front right; with Larry Parks, John Bradley and Paddy Waldron, behind; at the launch of the Clare Roots/Clare Champion biographical notices from 1903 to 1934 on the Clare Library website. Photograph by John Kelly.

‘Champion gets to the Roots of history

The strength of The Clare Champion’s roots in the very fabric of the county’s history was emphasised at an event celebrating the completion of an innovative project.

The Clare Roots Society has been working in conjunction with The Champion, collecting and recording biographical notices for the years 1903 to 1934. As a result of the hard work of dedicated volunteers, the project is now complete, resulting in about 7,000 biographical notices being collated. The information has been donated to Clare Library and the online version is now live on the library’s website.

To celebrate the completion of the project, a function was held recently at The Old Ground Hotel. Editor of The Clare Champion, Austin Hobbs told those gathered that the newspaper was delighted to be involved with the project.

He said the newspaper has played an important part in people’s lives over the years in Clare. “We have seen evidence of this in the amount of letters, and these days emails, that we receive every week from people trying to trace information about their families.

“We are very happy to see this project now complete. I would like to express my appreciation to all the volunteers involved, who gave their time. The Champion is the local paper for Clare, with all the information, from births and marriages to death notices. It is an important paper of record for the county,” Mr Hobbs added.

John Bradley, PRO of the Clare Roots Society, explained that a similar project was undertaken some years ago, from Champion issues dated 1935 to 1985. This project means there is now a complete index for all Clare Champion publication years, spanning 1903 to 1985.

The Clare Champion was first published in March 1903, after its predecessor, The Clare Man, was forced to close, due to a libel case. The newspaper contains biographical notices that cover births, engagements, marriages, death notices, obituaries, retirements, votes of sympathy and general news items relating to individuals.

The project first began back in March 2015, when the Clare Roots Society sought volunteers to assist in the collection and recording of these biographical notices. The purpose of the project was to create a searchable index to be made available on the Clare Library website for public access. Over 25 transcribers came forward. Some training was provided in the use of microfilm readers at the Local Studies Centre for a number of volunteers new to transcription.

Volunteers reviewed the newspapers for the following categories of biographical information: birth, marriage, death, engagement, ordination, profession of vows, obituary and acknowledgements.

The project was co-ordinated by Larry Parks, with the work on the project undertaken by the team, consisting of Lucille Ellis (Dub. 1934, 1910, 1907); Jennifer Morgan (1933); Declan Barron (1932); Angie Colton and Flan Lyons (1931); Larry Parks (1930, 1903); Ann Heraty (1929, 1915); Larry Brennan (1928); Caroline Brown (1927, 1908); Clara Hoyne (1926); Mary Hester (1925); Phil Molony (1924, 1909); Eileen O’Brien (1923); Olive Paradis (1922); Kathleen Ryan (1921); Frank Barry (1920); Ger Browne (1919); Jane Halloran Ryan (1918); Maureen Mescall (1917), Paula Carroll (1916); Senan Scanlan (Dub. 1914); Bernie O’Grady (1913); Frances O’Halloran (1912); Ann Marie Hayes (1911); Flan Lyons (1906); Mary Nagle (1905); Olive Ronan MacNamara and Anne Heraty (1904) and Maureen Mescall (1917).

The project covers the years from the early days of the 20th century, through the Great War, 1916, the War of Independence, the Civil War and the foundation of the Irish Free State. According to Mr Bradley, “It will be of particular interest to those researching that period in Irish history. The surnames found in the biographical notices are listed in alphabetical order and are of great assistance to those researching particular Clare family names.”

In celebrating the completion of the project, the Clare Roots hosted a function, to which all the transcribers were invited, to thank them for their input to this important project and for them to share their experiences with the project team and others.

“Many of the transcribers went beyond the scope of their brief and collected stories from The Clare Champion that caught their interest. Some of this extra material may be used in another forum. A number of the transcribers have offered their services for similar projects in the future.

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