TWO representatives of oral history group Cuimhneamh an Chláir addressed members of Clare County Council this week about the work the group does recording the recollections of the county’s older people.
The group is chaired by Mayor of Clare Pat Hayes but speaking to the councillors were project co-ordinator Tomás Mac Conmara and its leas cathaoirleach Cormac McCarthy.
Mr McCarthy said a lot of work has been done since the group’s foundation. “In two short years, over 205 recordings have been taken from over 190 people.”
He said the group has been more prolific than other organisations with a similar emphasis in Roscommon and Kerry. “It shows the degree of volunteerism here in Clare and the rich oral history in the county,” he commented.
Mr McCarthy said the group has been featured in local papers, on local radio and on RTÉ’s Nationwide and the coverage has been very helpful.
He said Cuimhneamh an Chláir now have 25 volunteers going out on a regular basis taking recordings and people have been interviewed in Dublin and as far away as Chicago.
Mr Mac Conmara said the passing of any older person in the county highlights the importance of what the group is doing. He also said Clare can benefit from heritage-based tourism. “Each area in Clare has the cultural wealth to draw people into it,” he commented.
He said they want their work to be accessible. “A failure of some folklore groups is that a lot of what they do ends up in boxes. If something is important enough to document, it’s important enough to get into the community,” he said.
He spoke of interviewing a man who remembered the violence of the Black and Tans in the county, while he said the group needs the support of the councillors and he was confident of receiving it.
Councillor Oliver Garry said often when people die, the failure to record their memories is lamented but that Cuimhneamh an Chláir are looking to pre-empt this. “When people die, we often say it’s a pity they weren’t recorded but that’s what’s happening now,” he said.
A number of other councillors had words of praise for the group with Councillor Richard Nagle saying their research would provide an important link with the past. “In such a rapidly changing world, it’s hard to relate to what Ireland was like 50 years ago, let alone much longer ago. It’d be a shame if these stories were lost and there’s an onus on us to see this rich tradition preserved.”
Afterwards, Mr Mac Conmara said he was happy with the support of the members. “Cuimhneamh an Chláir has been built from the people of County Clare up and will retain that ethos. However, it’s crucial that all relevant agencies and bodies in the county support us and our work and we’re satisfied now that Clare County Council have given a firm commitment to support our organisation into the future on the basis of an independent group.”
More information on Cuimhneamh an Chláir is available on www.clarememories.ie.