Grattan Street Oral History

Listen to selected excerpts and view photographs from our Grattan Street Oral History Project in the above video.

Exhibition in St Peters North Main Street runs until the 28th of February 2020

Grattan Street Memories and Stories to be heard at unique event

A new oral history and visual art exhibition, focused on memories and stories associated with Grattan Street Medical Centre, will be launched by broadcaster and journalist, Joe O’Shea on Thursday 6th February 6pm at a unique event at St. Peter’s on North Main Street in Cork. The ‘Grattan Street Stories: Memory of Place’ project is a unique community health, oral history and visual art collaboration between the Community Work Department and Social Inclusion Cork Kerry Community Healthcare HSE, the Cork Folklore Project and artist, Dr Edith O’Regan-Cosgrave.  

Over the last twelve months, the Cork Folklore Project has worked in conjunction with the HSE on the use of oral history, the recording of memory and testimony, in a health setting in Cork. Having previously successfully collaborated on an oral history of the Orthopaedic Hospital in Gurranabraher, it was decided to invest in a two year part-time pilot project that would see the positive work of oral history and memory collection, concentrated on specific health based sites in the city. Under the new programme, in early 2019, Kieran Murphy, a native of Cork city, was appointed as Cork Folklore Project’s Community Oral History Outreach Officer. The first strand of the project saw research and engagement with the staff of Grattan Street Medical Centre, to capture both a sense of the past and also the changing nature of the site. The project also saw the involvement of the visual artist, Dr Edith O’Regan-Cosgrave. Twelve months later, a substantial collection of digital audio recordings has been made with staff, former patients and locals, who were able to narrate the history and role of Grattan Street Medical Centre and the community it served. For Kieran Murphy, the work underlines the value of recording memory and human stories:

‘The success of the project demonstrates how opening up a space to enable people to tell their stories, focused on a specific site, can result in a much deeper understanding for the broader community. I have been struck with how much it meant to interviewees to be given the chance to place their own personal memories and testimony on record. It has been a very powerful and positive experience.’

A unique exhibition has now been created by Dr Edith O’Regan-Cosgrave, which has drawn on short quotes and memories from the recordings undertaken, and will be launched at the event on 6th February and will then be open to the public until 28th February. The launch will feature a unique ‘listening event’ where segments from the audio recordings will be played to showcase the stories and experiences as told by the people themselves. The event will take place at St. Peter’s on North Main Street, on Thursday 6th February, beginning at 6.00pm and all are welcome. 

Interview 700

We reached the landmark number of 700 in the number of our collected interviews this week. Thanks to Geraldine Healy whose recent life history interview became the 700th added to our database and thanks to all our interviewees!

Cork Folklore Project and HSE join forces to record Cork Memories

Kieran Murphy speaking at the ‘Memories of the Orthopaedic’ event in Cork Folklore Outreach Hub at The North Cathedral Visitor Centre with Cork North Community Work Department, HSE. Picture: Alison Miles/OSM PHOTO

A major collaboration between the Cork Folklore Project and the Community Work Department of the HSE has been announced.  A Community Oral History Outreach Officer, funded by the HSE, has been appointed to work on a part time basis over the following two years under the management of the Cork Folklore Project.  The role will be focused on the use of oral history (the recording of people’s memories, stories and testimony), to impact positively across Cork City. 

The Cork Folklore Project, which operates under the Department of Folklore and Ethnology, UCC, has been internationally recognised since their foundation in 1996.  In 2018, the project was acknowledged at the International Conference of Oral History in Finland, for the work it has done to systematically collect, archive and share the folklore of Cork.   Over the last two decades it has digitally recorded the voices and memories of people across Cork, as well as producing journals, radio programmes and an active outreach programme.  In 2018, they opened the Cork Folklore Project Outreach Hub at the North Cathedral Visitor Centre with their partners, Northside Community Enterprises. 

Kieran Murphy, who has been appointed to take on this role, outlines his excitement at the opportunity:

“This is an exciting role to be undertaking with the Cork Folklore Project in cooperation with the HSE Health Action Zones initiative. The range and variety of these oral history projects provide opportunities for research and community engagement as well as some challenges for our small organisation. I look forward to building on my experience with CFP to meet these challenges. It is such a privilege to speak with so many people and share their differing experiences with the community as part of our collective memory and unwritten history. We don’t know yet what nuggets our interviews will uncover- it’s still a mystery. But we will find gems for sure, and that sense of anticipation on the verge of discovery is thrilling!” 

The Community Work Department within the HSE works to develop innovative programmes which reflect the many factors that determine the health of individuals and communities. The department promotes inclusive ways of working in order to secure concrete improvements in quality of life for those communities while also playing a key role in structuring, developing and supporting the HSE’s relationship with voluntary and community groups, funding support is just one type of support offered.

Joanne McNamara, Community Health Worker with the HSE’s Cork North Community Work Department, explained that having worked with the Cork Folklore Project in the past, it was clear that a deeper collaboration would be worthwhile:

We were aware of the great work being done by the Cork Folklore Project over many years and in 2016 began collaborating with them to document memories associated with St. Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital.  The overwhelming success of that project underlined the potential for oral history to impact positively on the community and how closely aligned those outcomes were with our aims within the Health Action Zones of the City.  We are now delighted to be able to invest in the Cork Folklore Project over a two year period, to deepen this work and impact.    

The project will focus on three strands, Grattan Street Health Centre to document the memories and experiences of staff and service users in light of a permanent movement of the services to St Mary’s Health Campus later this year.  The project will seek to also engage older groups in Health Action Zone areas later in 2019 and aims to explore the use of oral history in the care of patients suffering from dementia at the Mercy Hospital Cork. 

Kieran Murphy is available for further comment at