My name is Niamh, I’m the archivist managing Donegal County Archives, the local authority archive service of Donegal County Council. For those of you who don’t know, Donegal is a large, mainly rural, county in the far north of Ireland. It is in the Republic of Ireland, though we share a border with counties in Northern Ireland.
Donegal County Archives celebrated 20 years last year. I work closely with our Culture Team, which consists of ourselves, Donegal County Museum, Heritage Office, Arts Office and Library Service, but I am the only permanent staff member in Archives. I have been lucky to have had talented and enthusiastic people working with me at different times over the years, one of whom, Alarnagh, is on a contract to roll out an EU funded project with SEUPB (Special European Union Programmes Body).
This project, in cooperation with our County Museum, involves working closely with schools and local history groups on the theme of Ireland and the Revolutionary period, 1912–1923 (Echoes of the Decade) and its effect and legacy on Co. Donegal, a border county. In part it is an oral history and archives acquisition/exhibition project.
We experienced a lot of delays in starting the project and we were already trying to fit in an originally designated two-year project into one year. We achieved quite a lot in three months, including facilitating several secondary and primary school workshops. Alarnagh’s creativity involved Lego, Powerpoint, objects and original archives and we had young people interested and learning! But our project is now completely stalled – just as it was building up momentum.
Alarnagh and I are both working from home now. We are trying to encourage a revised version of the oral history element of the project via Facebook, extending the breadth of the project, and are working on keeping history groups interested. But we do realise that closed schools, worried teachers and leaders of history groups have many other priorities at present. We hope our project can resume in full and perhaps be extended if possible, but don’t know at this point.
Anyone with any interest in Co. Donegal’s history and archives can find out more on our Facebook page. You can also visit Donegal County Council’s website to see workshop presentations, education packs, and oral history questionnaires.