Moycullen on a postcard.
Daoine agus Áit; Connecting Our Communities
Bernie Higgins, Tara DeRenzy, Walter McDonagh, Mary O’Shea
Moycullen on a postcard.
What a summer it has been for some members of Moycullen Heritage.
It all started with Lorna Elms of Irish Community Archive Network/ National Museum of Ireland, of which Moycullen Heritage is a member, putting forward a proposal for a project entitled Daoine agus Áit: Connecting our Communities.
The proposal ran as follows….
‘To develop a shared project under the title of Daoine agus Áit: Connecting Our Communities. This bi-lingual title encapsulates the objective of the project which is to draw on a shared history and heritage to connect people with their place, as well as to connect people within each community with each other, to connect the local community with their diaspora, and to further build connections between the groups within the iCAN network. These connections will be made through the creation of a Heritage Postcard Collection and the dissemination of printed cards by each community. We invite all of our iCAN groups to participate. The project will be co-funded by the National Museum, and the Heritage Officers for counties Clare, Galway and Wicklow via grants from the Healthy Ireland Keep Well Campaign & Creative Ireland.’
Experience of the project/workshops.
Moycullen Heritage decided to take part in this unique project. With the other eighteen members of the Irish Community Archive Network, we attended several online photography and creative writing workshops. Aoife Herriot (photographer) and Alice Kinsella (writer) were the tutors. The workshops and the tutors gave us both the inspiration and necessary skills to run with the project. Other support came from the heritage officers, Deirdre Burns, Wicklow, Congella McGuire, Clare and Marie Mannion, Galway. During the workshops we were also able to meet (online) with the other participating members, sharing ideas, techniques, and solutions.
Taking part in this project has given us a renewed appreciation of our community heritage. For some members, who are new to the area, they have benefited from an intense introduction to Moycullen, travelling highways and byways, always with the smartphone, or should we say all-encompassing device, at the ready, stopping to chat to locals and talking about the project, before taking that all important ‘snap.’
Four members of Moycullen Heritage volunteered to take part in the project, each bringing various skills and interests. We set up a WhatsApp group to make communication quick and easy, under the title Postcard Project. This worked very well for quick discussion and sharing photographs. It was agreed that each week we could have a photographic theme.
Moycullen, 8km from Galway City on the road to Clifden, is often described as a large village or a small town, but is most definitely, a big parish. Whatever its description it is still a relatively rural area, and the photographic themes reflected the diverse features that surround us: Lakes and Waterways; Turf and Bogland; Landscape; Built Environment; People and finally Animals. Moycullen is also a Gaeltacht area, so a bilingual written content was an important consideration as was the inclusion of the townland or placename in the address of the selected image. In Irish a townland is quite often a physical description of the place.
Photographs taken each week were included in a file of hundreds which eventually were whittled down to seventy photos, which then became four until finally a decision was made on the one unique picture which would become part of the Heritage Postcard Collection of the National Museum of Ireland.
Over the six-week period we worked to strict timelines and deadlines as set by Lorna in iCAN! It certainly kept us on track.
Inspiration for our creative pieces.
It is said that a picture speaks a thousand words, but a few words can enhance a picture too. The final picture selected is of Moycullen’s mini -Burren. It is known locally as the Rocks or the Rock’s Road, a landscape of karst or limestone. Ancient rocks laid down over 340 million years ago. We hope that by selecting this picture for our postcard it will bring an awareness which will help preserve this unique Moycullen landscape for future generations to enjoy. For those already familiar with this place they know that behind the photographer, not seen in the photograph, is a famine relief wall built from rocks taken from this landscape during this dark time in Irish history. The words we have chosen allude to this (and the people) as well as words stating obvious geographical descriptions of the environment: Bird Song, Geology, A lone tree stands majestic … Our creative writing tutor called it psychogeography.
How we involved the community.
We used social media, Facebook, and Moycullen Heritage website along with newspapers and our own local Moycullen Matters to start a conversation. Hazel Morrison, Moycullen Heritage’s representative on iCAN, put together an online poster asking the question ‘What makes Moycullen unique?’
Our plans for the printed postcards and beyond….
Moycullen Heritage has already forged links with Moycullen diaspora and in fact the meetings are timed to facilitate our very proactive members from California to Melbourne, not always easy with time zones to configure. These will be first on our list to receive postcards. The Moycullen Heritage genealogy project also has members throughout the globe. They will be receiving cards as an acknowledgement of their ongoing support to our heritage project.
More locally we aim to distribute the postcards to the schools, retirement homes, youth organisations, local voluntary groups, etc., who we hope will post them to the wider Moycullen community both at home and abroad.
Finally, Moycullen Heritage aims to build on the experience of this project by producing postcards of other townlands within Moycullen parish. We have fifty- eight townlands in total. So, plenty to work with. Next time we hope to involve the wider community in taking the photos. This could be through competitions, projects in the schools, or even individuals living in Moycullen or part of Moycullen diaspora. Basically, anyone who has an interest in depicting the rich, unique, and diverse nature of Moycullen on a postcard. Afterall, as stated in the seanfhocal on our postcard selected for the Heritage Postcard Collection ‘An rud is annamh is iontach.’
Compiled by Bernie Higgins, Tara DeRenzy, Walter McDonagh, Mary O’Shea
(sub committee of Moycullen Heritage who worked on the project Daoine agus Áit: Connecting our Communities).