Our Daoine agus Áit experience

Seamus Bermingham, Noelene Beckett Crowe & Patrica Conway carried out the Daoine agus Áit project on behlaf of the Mayo Genealogy Group
Irish Community Archive Network

Mayo Genealogy Group were informed during April 2021 by Tom Doyle Education Department at the National Museum of Ireland  – Country Life of a forthcoming project entitled Daoine agus Áit – People & Place.  It would include workshops with Professional Photographer Aoife Herriott & Poet Alice Kinsella.  A Graphic Designer would assist with designing  & printing of a chosen image / images for a postcard to distribute during Heritage Week August 14th  – 22nd 2021.

The Mayo Genealogy Group participated with 18 other Heritage Groups, including from Louisburgh – Killeen, Co. Mayo, Milltown, Co. Galway, Clarecastle Ballyea, Co. Clare also Greystones Tidy Towns, Co. Wicklow.  Zoom events from April with introductions to Tutors by iCAN Project Coordinator Lorna Elms were followed by a series of workshops with a video produced on 3rd August to complete the Project.

The photographic workshops conducted by Aoife were excellent.  She provided amazing tips re horizon lines, best time of day, grid lines, changing shades, rubbing out also no cropping was advised.  It was advantageous to consider a chosen image not be centred.  She provided excellent feedback of images in her emails that included details of workshops.  We are extremely grateful for her advice.

The creative writing sessions were so engaging & enjoyable with excellent tips provided by Alice. The emails on workshops provided following the sessions were very welcome.  She encouraged ‘homework’ so we enjoyed several days of creativity.  She responded to each email with positive constructive feedback.  Gratitude is extended to Alice for her kindness.

Sketching out our ideas

Seamus liaised with Graphic Designer Damien Goodfellow re photographic images.  Seamus retouched several to provide excellent quality.  Patricia & Seamus participated in the video of project.  On the day of filming  group photos were taken and Lorna Elms kindly attended!

We were delighted  to participate in this project on behalf of Mayo Genealogy Group as People / Place / Diaspora are our main focus.  Participants Patricia & Noelene focused on the creative writing side with  Seamus on the photography.  Our theme was ‘Stone’ –  this is reflected in Kilcashel Fort as an ancient people inhabited Mayo.  It is important people are remembered, the cottage ruins acknowledges their Spirit.  Emigration with the  Diaspora’s homecoming is reflected in the Railway Station.  Several sites were visited or re – visited, hundreds of photographs were taken, numerous creative pieces written plus we (three) enjoyed several Zoom discussions during the process.

Members of Mayo Genealogy Group & Kilmovee Heritage, Kilcashel Stone Fort, Kilmovee. Image: S. Bermingham

Finally it was decided to use Kilcashel Fort in East Mayo as the main image. The deserted cottage ruin of a Village in East Mayo has opened up new lines of research regarding its former residents, as well as its reputed seventeenth century links with the pre-Dillon land holders who gave their name to the Barony of Costello.  The deserted Balla Railway Station is a poignant reminder of the emotional departures experienced by Irish ancestors.  The creative writing aspect was included with text on the front plus poem on other side of postcard.  It is the intention to forward this postcard to our members within Ireland also Internationally plus to several public bodies, nursing homes, libraries, schools etc.

Seamus Bermingham, Noelene Beckett Crowe & Patricia Conway. Image by S. Bermingham

We are indebted to Lorna Elms for her assistance, patience plus encouragement during these past weeks.

On a personal level I wish to express gratitude to all tutors, Tom Doyle, Lorna Elms, the members of other groups also Patricia & Seamus for their assistance.  I thoroughly enjoyed the experience especially as had never focused on photography previously.

Noelene Beckett Crowe, on behalf of Patricia Conway & Seamus Bermingham

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