Since the summer of 2022, the Heritage Office of Westmeath County Council has been undertaking a major heritage audit, seeking to identify collections of oral history, folklore and stories of times past. Digital interviews undertaken in recent years, as well as cassette recordings and even older reel to reel tapes have been identified as part of the project. The project will result in a comprehensive understanding of what has been recorded within and related to Westmeath and importantly, what has happened to these recordings.
The Audit of Oral Heritage Recordings is directed by Melanie McQuade, Heritage Officer for Westmeath. Mac Conmara Heritage Consulting, leading experts in oral history and cultural heritage, have been working with community groups, historians, and institutions over the last year and have reported an immensely positive response from the people of Westmeath. Dr Tomás Mac Conmara, himself a leading oral historian, commented recently, ahead of the final phase of the project:
“Since the beginning of the project, the response from those who have engaged with the audit has been hugely encouraging and as the project has developed, we’ve been really heartened with the way that collection holders have bought into the importance of identifying what has been recorded across the County and of course, recordings undertaken elsewhere, about Westmeath.”
Speaking about the final phase of the project, which is supported by funding from Creative Ireland, Mac Conmara underlined the relevance and importance of even the smallest recording:
“If you or a member of your family, recorded the memories of an older grandparent, this is hugely valuable, not only to the family concerned, but also for the broader community. The memories of an old man or woman, that can recall and describe aspects of the past in County Westmeath are of increasing importance, as we move into a more digital age and away from the more traditional ways of living and experiencing the world around us. We would love to hear from anyone across Westmeath, even if you are unsure whether your material is relevant.”
Referring to the final phase of the Audit, Melanie McQuade emphasized the importance of reaching those people who may not have heard about the project or who know of other material that may not have been included as of yet.
“We are determined to ensure that we deliver the most comprehensive account of oral heritage recordings as possible for County Westmeath. While the response has been really positive so far, we wanted to make a final appeal to the public to try and ensure that we include all of the people who have, over many years, made such valuable efforts to record memories and stories that would overwise have been lost.”
If you have any information on oral heritage recordings or collections on County Westmeath topics, people or places, please contact Mac Conmara Heritage Consulting on 087 916 0373 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Press Release Ends
Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 05/04/2023