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

The Big Snow, going Downtown and musical journeys

Memories of the ‘big snow’ of 1947, going ‘Downtown’ to Cork City in 1964, as well as the life and career of a Cork newspaper printer are just some of the subjects explored in the 22nd edition of The Archive, the annual journal of the Cork Folklore Project.  The Project, who digitally record the memories, oral history and folklore of the people of Cork, have produced the journal in all of its twenty-two years, since it was founded by the UCC Department of Folklore and Ethnology in 1996.   Each year, The Archive explores aspects of Cork Folklore, history and memory, in articles written by researchers on the project as well as well-known historians from across Cork.  Archive 22 contains eleven carefully researched articles which each present a unique insight into Cork’s folkloric heritage.

The Manager of the Project, Dr. Tomás Mac Conmara commented that this year’s journal contains more directly collected material from within the Project’s archive, than ever before:  

We have always sought to make our material available for historians and for contributors to the journal.  However, in recent years, we have specifically encouraged articles which drew on our wealth of collected folklore. This both enriches the articles themselves and also serves to underline the importance of that material and how its use can be of tremendous value to exploring various aspects of our history and culture.  Our journal is one of the most popular outreach initiatives we have and it is fantastic to see the distribution grow each year, as more people across Cork and beyond look to read it.  

Michael Moore, who has contributed articles previously, this year, reflects on past interviewees, who have passed away since they were recorded.  Historians, Patrick Walsh and Geraldine Healy respectively contribute insightful articles respectively focused on the ‘big snow’ of 1947 and the tradition of shopping in Cork or ‘going downtown’ as it was known in Geraldine’s childhood.  Cork Folklore Project researcher, David McCarthy contributes an extensive exploration on the Bantry Bay Steamship Company, while his colleague David Ryan writes about Blueshirt and IRA activity in 1930s’ Cork.  In all of the above, material gathered as part of the Cork Folklore Project’s collection programme is integrated into each article. 

Mark Wilkins has consistently authored articles focused on this history of music in Cork and in this edition, explores ‘Cork and Contemporary Folk Song’.  The music theme is also addressed by a wonderfully insightful article by Jack Lyons, who reflects on his unique musical journey ‘From Fleishmann to Townshend’.  Other articles include ‘It came out in lines of type’, Memories of a Cork Printer by the Blackpool historian, Mark Cronin, based on interviews with former Examiner printer Noel Welch.  The journal also contains reflections from management and staff on the efforts of the Cork Folklore Project to engage the community with their material, including the development of their new Outreach Hub at the North Cathedral Visitor Centre. Archive 22, which is part funded by a heritage grant from Cork City Council, is available free of charge across Cork city.  Copies can also be collected at the project’s Outreach Hub. 

Dr. Tomás Mac Conmara can be contacted for further comment on 087 9160373.