Wednesday 23 April 2014

Volunteer-led heritage centre needs help to help genies

Dunmanway Heritage Centre will be relocating this summer to bigger, brighter and better premises in the West Cork town's long-unused Methodist Church. The church is just along the High Street from the current centre, which is not part of the Irish Family History Foundation's network and was set up and is still run by unpaid volunteers from Dunmanway Historical Association.

Dunmanway Heritage Centre works with local schools
to stimulate interest in local history
I dropped by three years ago and was impressed by the dedication of the volunteers to engage local children and their families in the history of their home town, and their continuing efforts to amass an interesting collection of books and genealogy records. They also give a tremendous amount of time and knowledge to visiting family historians and have helped many find the exact spot of their ancestral home. I wrote a feature about the Centre for my website, Irish Genealogy Toolkit, which mentions that the long-term future of the Centre was in doubt as they couldn't stay where they were for too much longer.

They've clung on, and Good Fortune has stepped in to help them. A local couple, whose ancestors ran flour mills and shops in Dunmanway, wanted to leave something to the town in memory of their family. So they bought the redundant church and have paid for its restoration and refurbishment. It will become a community centre for the town. And the Dunmanway Heritage Centre has been given an annexe as a permanent home.

This annexe is three or four times larger than their current premises, which means the Centre can now display more of its collection and bring its extensive library of books and other publication out of storage.

As you can imagine, all the members and volunteers of Dunmanway Historical Association are delighted with this turn of events, but there is one wee problem: the Centre needs to furnish the town's new Heritage Centre with bookshelves, display cabinets, research spaces, computers and so on. It's digging deep into its own reserves, but there's going to be a shortfall.

Can you help? Are you one of the many who've been helped by the Centre in the past who could dig into your pockets? Do you have connections to Dunmanway and want to support this worthwhile local endeavour to prosper? Or could you simply spare a few bob to help these volunteers get the new Centre ship-shape and ready to help other genealogists in time for the big move in June?

If you can, please make a donation via the Dunmanway Historical Association's website (bottom right of landing page). You can do this via credit/debit card and Paypal. Every little helps and will be spent wisely to assist both local people and wandering family historians who want to know more about their heritage.