Monday 11 November 2013

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collection launches

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collection will be formally launched on Wednesday 13 November at Dublin Castle by Minister Jimmy Deenihan TD, whose Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht commissioned Maurice and Jane O'Keefe of Irish Life and Lore to compile the recordings.

Maurice and Jane recorded 99 people – the children, grandchildren and other close relatives of the revolutionaries of 1916 – to create the collection of 111 recordings.

Valuable historical and personal information can now be accessed through the collection. Not only are personal experiences of Easter Week 1916 described in detail, explanations of the reasons for participation are also provided. Also heard are personal views on the sacrifice involved, the pain endured and the post-traumatic stress suffered, in some cases.

Other subjects explored are the revolutionaries' relative silence in later years on their involvement, and the sense of responsibility felt by their descendants towards their historical legacy.

The voices heard in the collection include:
  • Fr. Joseph Mallin, son of Michael Mallin. Fr. Mallin is the last surviving child of an executed leader of 1916, and he was recorded in Hong Kong;
  • Count Eoghan and Seóirse Plunkett, nephews of Joseph Mary Plunkett;
  • Harry Boland and Eileen Barrington, children of Gerald Boland and nephew and niece of Harry Boland;
  • Risteárd Mulcahy, son of Richard Mulcahy;
  • Fr. Éanna Henderson, son of Frank Henderson;
  • Sr. Íde Woulfe, niece of Con Colbert;
  • Sr. Kevin O'Higgins, daughter of Kevin O'Higgins;
  • Eileen Quinn, niece of Tomás Ashe;
  • Attracta Maher and Sr. Joanna Brennan-Whitmore, daughters of William J. Brennan-Whitmore;
  • Sr. Philomena O'Daly, daughter of Paddy O'Daly;
  • Camilla Mitchell, daughter of Bulmer Hobson;
  • Maureen Haughey, daughter of Seán Lemass;
  • Proinsias Ó Rathaille, grandson of The O'Rahilly;
  • Dorothea Findlater, daughter of Captain Henry de Courcy-Wheeler who took the surrender of many of the leaders of the Rising in Dublin.
Also included are some earlier recordings compiled with central figures in the Rising. These recordings were donated to the project by their families, who also generously contributed many historical documents and photographs.

The 1916 Oral History Collection consists of 111 recordings, involving over 150 hours of edited and tracked audio material. It is accompanied by an indexed and illustrated catalogue, which provides a brief synopsis of the content of each track in every recording.

"It was a wonderful project to work on," Jane O'Keefe told Irish Genealogy News. "The people who participated in the recording process were, without exception, generous, patient and enthusiastic. It should also be remembered that without the foresight and support of the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG), and the support of South Dublin Libraries, the project would never have come to fruition."

The Collection will be available in many county and college libraries throughout Ireland, but recordings can also be puchased individually as mp3s (€2.99 or €15 on disk) via Irish Life and Lore's online shop or by phone: 353 (0)66 7121991.

In addition to the Oral History Collection, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has commissioned a book on the 1916 Rising. To Speak of Easter Week, written by Dr Helene O'Keefe, will be published by Mercier Press in Autumn 2015.