Tuesday 24 April 2018

Documentary maker's new project ensures Clonmel's past will never be forgotten

Clonmel’s West Gate, which divides O’Connell Street and Irishtown, inspired Eimear King to embark on a heritage project
Clonmel’s West Gate, which divides O’Connell Street and Irishtown, inspired Eimear King to embark on a heritage project

Celine Naughton

The walls that once kept the Norman town of Clonmel safe from the native Irish may be long gone, but the preserved West Gate that divides O'Connell Street and Irishtown has inspired a documentary maker to embark on a project that's steeped in local heritage.

The walls that once kept the Norman town of Clonmel safe from the native Irish may be long gone, but the preserved West Gate that divides O'Connell Street and Irishtown has inspired a documentary maker to embark on a project that's steeped in local heritage.

"Having grown up in Irishtown, I've got to know people in their 90s with incredibly interesting stories that form an important social history of the place," Eimear King said. "It struck me that if we don't record these stories for posterity now, we're at risk of losing them forever. I also want to get young people involved so that they can connect with their heritage."

As the new school term begins, Ms King will visit two primary schools and help pupils chart their local history in fun ways by recreating Irishtown in the video game Minecraft, doing art projects, and learning from older residents about what life was like growing up in the old days.

"Kids walk up and down this street every day, but I'm not sure they know much about it," she said. "I want to instil a love of the place in the younger generation.

"Local townspeople are a wealth of knowledge. When I hear about some of the characters that lived before, I can almost see the man who once went around lighting street lamps; or the woman who stood proprietorially at the door of her boarding house.

"The scene today is very different. The population is much more culturally diverse and this needs to be reflected too. It's about looking at our town then and now, so we can appreciate who we are and where we've come from."

The project will culminate in an exhibition at the County Museum as part of next year's Bealtaine Festival in May.

Irish Independent

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