The ‘Stories of the Revolution’ is a school history and folklore project run by Skibbereen Heritage Centre. Now in its third year, this very popular project invites primary school children from around West Cork to collect stories relating to the 1916-1923 revolutionary period from their own locality. The project aims to raise awareness of this historic era among the children. It encourages them to speak to their parents, grandparents, other relations or neighbours and to record their stories relating to this turbulent period in history and preserve them for posterity.
Over the past three years 36 primary schools in the West Cork region have participated in the project giving us over 600 individual projects. This year alone more than 230 pupils submitted projects relating to the events in Ireland during those years. In the coming year, we will work with pupils and teachers from the Rosscarbery and Clonakilty areas to gather more revolutionary stories.
The project model is based on the highly successful Irish Folklore Commission which gathered so much important local history and folklore from schoolchildren in 1937. Similarly, the Stories of the Revolution will create an archive of local history and folklore for posterity.
As well as a physical archive, which will be stored at Cork City and County Archives, Skibbereen Heritage Centre’s website will host a digital archive which will be available on completion of the project. Heritage Centre Manager Terri Kearney says that “this project will outlive us all. In years to come, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these young people will be reading these unique family stories online”.
The ‘West Cork: Stories of the Revolution’ project is kindly supported by the Cork County Council’s Centenary Programme and the Creative Ireland fund. The projects received to date are bright, colourful, often artistic and full of unique insights and stories.
The first two years of the project were coordinated by Heritage Centre employees Margaret Murphy, Philip O’Regan and Terri Kearney and volunteer Sue Harrington. This year the project team consisted of Margaret Murphy, William Casey, Terri Kearney and Sue Harrington.
Heritage Centre Manager Terri Kearney observed:
“The children’s obvious enthusiasm in the telling of each story is a credit to their teachers and parents. Many commented in their projects that they were delighted at the opportunity to find out more about their local history and their family’s role in how it played out. Many of them also visited the sites around their local areas where the events took place, really bringing this period of history to life for them.”
Reflecting the multicultural population of the West Cork region, we have received many stories from across the world relating to this revolutionary period. These include some lovely stories about the Polish revolution, the Spanish Civil War, India under British rule and even a family story of a Filipino tribal ritual.
The 12 primary schools who took part in the inaugural project in 2017 were: Abbeystrewery NS, St Joseph’s Girls School, St Patrick’s Boys School and Gael Scoil Dr Uí Shuilleabháin, all in Skibbereen, as well as Caheragh, Rath, Cape Clear, Ballinacarriga, Leap, Lisheen, Derryclough and Union Hall schools.
Last year in 2018, the schools participating in the project were: Ballinadee, Bandon Boys, Bandon Bridge, Gael Scoil Dr na Bandan, Derrinacahara, Gurrane, Gurraneasig, Innishannon, Kilbrittain Mixed, Kilcolman, Knockavilla and Laragh NS. The winning student, Caoimhín Dart Ó Floinn attends Scoil Eoin Innishannon which was also the overall winning school last year.
The participating schools in the 2019 ‘West Cork: Stories of the Revolution’ project are: Castledonovan NS, Coppeen NS, Drimoleague NS, Dromleigh NS, Dromore NS, Model School Dunmanway, Scoil Phádraig Naofa, Dunmanway, St Mary’s Senior Girls School, Dunmanway, Togher NS, Kilcoe NS, Scoil Bhríde, Ballydehob and Schull NS.
The winning school of 2019 was Dromleigh National School while the winning pupil was Eoin Hurley, a pupil at Dunmanway Boys’ NS. Mayor Patrick Gerard Murphy presented the winners with their prizes which were kindly sponsored by Cork County Council.
We look forward to the 2019-20 tranche of the project which will gather stories from schools in the Clonakilty and Rosscarbery areas.