Cork Launch of Letters 1916 | 25 – 26 November 2015

The Cork launch of the Letters of 1916 project took place on Thursday, 26th November 2015 in the Boole Library in University College Cork. This outreach event was the fourth in a series of Community Engagement Events held in 2015 thanks to a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover grant.

The Letters of 1916 project was delighted to collaborate with UCC Library Archives; UCC School of History; Cork City and County Archives and Cork Public Museum for the event. The event provided an opportunity to meet the team behind the project, as well as to find out more about technical aspects of the projects. In the afternoon, there was a hands-on practical workshop in which members of the public had the opportunity to engage in a key aspect of the Letters of 1916 project – that of uploading letters to the database. There were pop-up talks through the afternoon from Donna Alexander (UCC Digital Arts and Humanities), Daniel Breen, (Cork Public Museum) and Brian McGee (Cork City and County Archives). Members of the Letters of 1916 team demonstrated the digitisation process and attendees assisted in uploading over 30 letters from Cork to the system.  


Later that evening, following a reception, there were a series of talks about the history of Cork during 1916 as seen through letters from the Letters of 1916 collection.  Crónán Ó Doibhlin from UCC library introduced the speakers at the launch who included John Borgonovo, Gabriel Doherty, Helene O’Keeffe and Susan Schreibman. In addition to the talks, there was a special session for Secondary School teachers who wish to use 1916-based lesson plans developed for use in Transition Year. 1916 in Transition is a collaboration of the Letters 1916 project and the Military Archives of Ireland and is funded by the Irish Research Council and the Department of Education. The lesson plans explore the Easter Rising through the rich archival sources available through the Letters of 1916 project and the Bureau of Military History.     [slideshow_deploy id=’5010′]            

The following day, the Letters of 1916 team visited local Cork school, St Angela’s College to carry out a workshop with the Transition Year history students. The students had been working with a collection of 1916 letters for a number of weeks prior to the school visit. Under the direction of their teacher, Ms Helene O’Keeffe, the students had prepared posters relating to aspects of Sergeant Peter Mooney’s life. The Peter Mooney collection of letters was added to the Letters of 1916 project by Peter’s son, Willie Mooney. The letters in the collection were exchanged between Peter and his sister Katie during World War 1.

Following the fascinating presentations about farm life, life as a WW1 soldier, the life of women in 1916 and Irish society at the time, we moved to the computer room for the workshop in which the students learned about the Letters of 1916 workflow, before finally adding the letters they had been engaging with for weeks to the online system.

The whole event was filmed by RTÉ for inclusion in a documentary about ordinary people in 1916 which will be aired at some point during the commemorative season – keep an eye out for the students of St Angela’s College – we’re sure you will be as impressed with their projects as we were!

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