The ‘Stories of the Revolution: 1916-1923’ is a project run by Skibbereen Heritage Centre, with the support of Cork County Council, which invites primary school children to collect stories relating to the 1916–1923 period from their own area.
The concept is based on the highly-successful 1937 Schools’ Folklore Commission project which is still being referenced today.
This is a magnificent project which involves fourth, fifth and sixth class primary school children recording stories from their own families or their own local areas. Many of these stories come from within their own families. And these stories are not confined to Ireland. The period 1916–1923 was a very volatile time all over Europe and some fantastic stories have been collected from children whose family background are from Poland, German and other countries.
While many of these stories have been part of family history for a few generations, this may well be the first time that they are written down and so preserved for posterity.
The Stories of the Revolution will form a very valuable archive which will be stored at Cork City and County Archives and Skibbereen Heritage Centre’s website will host a digital archive which will be available on completion of the project.
The project started in Skibbereen in 2016 and has extended over the subsequent years to schools in the Skibbereen, Leap, Union hall, Aughadown, Bandon, Innishannon, Timoleague, Dunmanway, Kilmichael, Clonakilty, Rosscarbery, Union Hall, Ballydehob and Schull areas.
To date, 818 children have participated, and the hope is to expand this project into other areas of West Cork over the coming years.
Terri Kearney, manager of Skibbereen Heritage Centre, who is co-ordinating this project, has written a beautiful piece for the 2020 Skibbereen Historical Journal, giving a sample of some of the stories collected.
Even from this brief snapshot of the project, we get a great idea of the value of the stories recorded. What makes them very special is that they are written by the children themselves, mostly in their own handwriting and in their own vernacular.
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