Featured Transcriber: Clara McDonald

Clara McDonald, transcriber
Clara McDonald, transcriber

Born and raised in the sunny south east of Ireland (it’s more like the mildly warm south east, but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it), Clara is a twenty-five-year-old full time administrator and part time Early Childhood Education student. Aside from working and studying she can also be found performing with Wexford Light Opera Society from time to time. Clara is also a Gold Gaisce award candidate, through which she came across the Letters of 1916 Project.

Clara told us about her participation with the Letters of 1916 project.


I first came across the Letters of 1916 project via the Volunteer Ireland website when looking for a community volunteering project I could get involved with as part of my gold Gaisce award.

Gaisce LogoGaisce is an Irish word which means ‘great achievement’. The Gaisce Award is a challenge from the President of Ireland to young people to dream big and realise their potential. There are three levels of Gaisce – Bronze, Silver and Gold. The Gold Award is the highest level and anyone between the ages of 17-25 can apply.

Knowing I needed a volunteering outlet which fit around my full-time job, part time studies and more than occasional rehearsals I was sceptical of finding something that I would really enjoy, but I was instantly drawn to the idea of the Letters of 1916 project. The letters, postcards and notes are such a wonderful window into the Ireland of time gone by.

The simplicity of love letters and letters to family help to show the resilience of Ireland and her people during a time of huge change both home and abroad; while the business letters show us how much the world of business and banking have changed in a hundred years. (You think your internet banking is slow? Try waiting on a letter from your bank to confirm monies had been lodged to your account more than a week before).

Letter from Patrick Pearse to Seamus Doyle
Letter from Patrick Pearse to Seamus Doyle

By far my favourite items of correspondence to transcribe are those associated with county Wexford and its inhabitants, such as this letter from Patrick Pearse (1879-1916) to Seamus Doyle, a member of the Irish Volunteers in Enniscorthy, County Wexford. This letter refers to the use of Pearse’s image on the cover of a publication. Pearse writes that an image of Robert Emmet would be more suitable and ‘After I am hanged my portrait will be interesting, but not before.’ He also writes about travel arrangements for a trip to Wexford.

Having transcribed & reviewed over seventy-five letters since joining the project in December 2016, I look forward to the many more letters awaiting me in the libraries of the Letters of 1916 Project.


Thanks Clara!

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