Monday, 29 February 2016

One of 50 objects: Clare Museum’s contribution to a new publication

Recently a new publication called "A History of the Easter Rising in 50 Objects" by John Gibney arrived in the morning mail at Clare Museum. A beautifully produced book, Gibney’s collection includes Patrick Brennan’s Autograph Book which was purchased by the museum in 2014.

Brennan came from Meelick, County Clare, and would go on to serve in the IRA’s campaign during the Irish War of Independence and later still, he served as a TD. He had been rounded up in the aftermath of the Rising by the British authorities, but had not taken part in it.

The autograph book appears on page 193 in a section about Frongoch camp in Wales, where the rebels were eventually imprisoned, and features a detailed a drawing by Cathal Mac Dubhgaill of part of the compound. Mac Dubhgaill, who was an engineer with Dublin Corporation, served in the 3rd Battalion of the Volunteers under Eamon de Valera during the Rising. He also beautifully illustrated other pages in Brennan’s keepsake, which was a common type of social media in its day.

The autograph Book and the Markievicz Prison Committal Form are the only artefacts in the museum collection with any connection to the largely Dublin-centred 1916 Easter Rising and its aftermath.

With the Markievicz ‘mug shots’ having already been included in ‘1916’, a University of Notre Dame funded TV documentary, both objects will continue to be at the centre of Clare Museum’s centenary activities this year.

Upcoming Events for Children in Clare Library Branches

World Book Day celebrations, Seachtain na Gaeilge, 1916 commemoration events and competitions for children and teenagers make for an extremely busy and exciting month in Clare County Library branches this March.

March the 3rd is World Book Day and Clare’s libraries will offer art and illustration workshops in many locations all over the county. Alan Shoosmith’s art classes for primary school children have become a regular feature in the library’s programme of activities to promote reading and literacy among young people. Focusing this year on the books of Roald Dahl and their trademark illustrations by Quentin Blake, Alan will inspire young artists to create their personal interpretations of characters such as Matilda, James, Danny, George and his Granny, the Twits and many more. Roald Dahl was born on the 13th of September 1916 and to further highlight the joy his books continue to bring to us a century later, Wayne O’Connor will visit Scariff and Killaloe libraries with his unique show comprising drawing, lots of drama, fun and madness as he recreates the very best loved Dahl stories in a suitably revolting manner for eager audiences.

Etain McCooey has recently made her debut as a children’s author with a delightful story called Deefer’s Day Out. Illustrated by Alison O’Brien, the self-published book tells the story of Deefer the adventurous border collie puppy and her travels through a snowy countryside. It introduces us to the many woodland friends she meets along the way before she decides contentedly, “there’s only so much excitement a pup can take in one day”, as she snuggles down to sleep.

Children who have already read Deefer’s Day Out say:

“I couldn’t stop laughing when Deefer lost her paws in the snow. Seamus the Shrew was my favourite” Gabriel, aged 9

“When is the next one coming out” Sinead, aged 8

“I love Deefer. I have a dog too but she’s not as funny as Deefer” Sonny, aged 9

Etain’s library visits will include stories, music and drawing and are sure to be enjoyed by first and second class children in Ennis, Shannon, Ennistymon and Miltown Malbay libraries.

Ceiliúrfar Seachtain na Gaeilge trí sheisiúin scéalaíochta trí Ghaeilge do na ranganna sóisir agus ceardlanna líníochta do pháistí scoile níos sine atá á thabhairt ag Aidan Courtney. Eagrófar na seisiúin scéalaíochta i mbeagnach gach brainse den leabharlann faoi cheannas Séamus Ryan ó Leabharlann de Valera agus déanfaidh Maire Falsey ó Chuar an Chláir na seisiúin scéalaíochta sna leabharlanna in Iarthair an Chláir.

Beidh na ceardlanna atá á eagrú ag Aidan Courtney ag luí isteach le ceiliúradh 1916 do pháistí agus déagóirí nuair a thabharfaidh sé cuairt ar na leabharlanna seo leanas: Inis, Sionainn, Inis Díomáin, Sráid na Cathrach, Cora Chaitlín agus Droichead Abhann Uí gCearnaigh. Léirítear teicnící líníochta agus cruthú greannáin agus beidh téama Éirí Amach 1916 san áireamh sa cheardlann nócha nóiméad. Is é aidhm na ceardlanna ná a fháil amach ó pháistí an méid eolais atá acu faoi Éirí Amach 1916 ag féachaint an féidir leo é sin a léiriú i ngreannán.

Déanfaidh daoine léaráidí de bhaill Éirí Amach 1916 agus pléifidh siad cad a thit amach sa tír le linn an ama sin. Foghlaimeoidh siad conas leabhar simplí a dhearadh le léiriú pictiúrtha d’imeacht ar leith bunaithe ar cad atá ar eolas acu. Beidh ceardlanna Aidan réchúiseach agus taitneamhach do ranganna 5 agus 6 nó déagóirí meánscoile.

Cuirfear béim ar scéal 1916 agus na teicnící úsáidtear i gcruthú greannáin go léir faoi stiúir bunaitheoir Coimicí Gael agus a fhoilseachán aitheanta RíRá

Meanwhile response to the Library’s 1916 creative writing competition has been extremely positive with over three hundred first and second year students having signed up through their class teachers to enter. The competition is based on Sheena Wilkinson’s latest novel for young people, Name Upon Name. As readers of the book will discover, letters are central to the story’s plot so in keeping with this format, students are required to write a letter, or alternatively a diary entry, from the point of view of one of the characters in Sheena’s book. Clare County Library wishes all entrants the very best of luck and is looking forward to a special prize-giving event for the winner and 4 runners up at deValera Library, Ennis on the evening of Thursday the 14th of April. Sheena Wilkinson will be the library’s special guest on the evening when she will meet with the lucky winners. The closing date for receipt of entries is March 18th 2016.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Springs crafts in Scariff Library

Scariff Public Library was awash with bright coloured flowers and leaves as children participated in two craft sessions on 18th and 19th February. Smaller children were invited to make paper flowers to welcome the spring while older children made their own leaves out of steel wire and covered them in beautiful pastel tissue paper of varying hues. They then decorated willow branches by attaching their leaves with the wire. Let's hope all this great work inspires a great spring!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Volunteering at Clare Museum - a case study

A few years ago, Clare County Council adopted a volunteer policy which provided a framework for members of the community who wished to give some of their free time to the cultural services section of the local authority. Since then, and in partnership with the Clare Volunteer Centre, Clare Museum has been very fortunate to attract high calibre volunteers that make a real contribution to our activities, often in ways not originally envisaged. Volunteer Karen Dunn is a good example of this.

Karen is a graphic designer and she joined the museum as a volunteer in early 2015 to collect visitor statistics which would help us shape our planning and programming. At about the same time the museum was devising - with extremely limited resources - a new temporary exhibition to mark the centenary of Clare winning its first All-Ireland hurling title. Staff member Dr Tomás Mac Conmara was to carry out the scholarly research, but how it would be designed, by whom, and at what cost were issues that were of concern.

It was not long before Karen stepped forward and offered to assist by designing the text panels for the exhibition and she began to work closely with Tomás. For years we had been photographing the collection for our website and so the project benefitted from having excellent photographs available. In addition, the subject matter provided the exhibition team with an opportunity to tie the players and mentors of the All-Ireland hurling champions of 1914 into the events that Ireland is commemorating during this Decade of Centenaries.

As the exhibition space is extremely limited it was the intention from the start to produce a booklet with additional information which would provide the public with an educational resource to take away with them. Karen put a great deal of work into designing the booklet using her own laptop and software. The fact that she was onsite with us meant that ideas could be tried out and changed as new information or photographs came into play. What was intended as a small booklet very quickly turned into a beautifully produced full-fledged book.

For the museum, Karen’s skill and time was central to the success of the current temporary exhibition and provided many benefits, some of them unexpected. Her availability as a volunteer saved the museum from having to use scarce funds to employ a graphic designer who would be offsite and who would have had no feel for the museum. Instead this money went into quality printing of the text panels which made the most of Karen’s artistic eye.

With the book, the quality of its design turned out to be a long way from the simple in-house low quality publication that would have been all we could have managed without her help. She allowed the museum to make the most of its photographic resources, and produced a design that matched the quality and importance of Tomás’ research; that the book has the appearance of being the serious contribution to Clare’s local history that it is, is entirely down to Karen’s talent. This has been appreciated by the public and many make a contribution to the museum’s donation box when collecting their free copy. Its promotion in the media has attracted a new audience to the museum, and has given a fresh boost to the exhibition which had been launched several months previously. For Karen, it is hoped that her contribution to the project will give her a great deal of personal satisfaction, having been central to a successful project. The book in particular is likely to be a useful addition to her portfolio, should increase her profile and hopefully, lead to employment.

Plans for the next exhibition and supporting book are already in the pipe-line and Karen will be at the centre of that project too.

John Rattigan, Curator, Clare Museum.
Image above shows Karen Dunn in Clare Museum.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Clare County Council seeks expressions of interest from local communities for IPB Pride of Place 2016

Expressions of interest are being sought from local communities, projects and housing estates around Clare who wish to participate in the IPB Pride of Place 2016 in association with Co-operation Ireland.

This annual all-island initiative, which is hosted by Co-operation Ireland and sponsored by IPB Insurance is run in conjunction with local authorities, North and South, and aims to recognise and celebrate the contributions made by communities to society.

Nominated Clare communities will be hoping to emulate the local successes of recent years, including the first place award to Doonbeg Community Development last year, Miltown Malbay’s first place award in 2013 and Killaloe and Tuamgraney's Runner-Up finishes in 2014. Clare County Council also won a special award in 2014 for its contribution to the competition since it was first established in 2003.

Clare County Council may nominate one group per category, providing the total number nominated does not exceed five. Judging for Pride of Place 2016 takes place between June and August.

Winners, runners up and special award recipients will receive a trophy and small monetary prize at November’s awards ceremony, at a location and date yet to be confirmed.

There are eleven categories under which communities can enter. They include five themes: Age Friendly Community Initiative; Community Enterprise Initiative; Communities Reaching Out Initiative; Urban Neighbourhoods; Islands and Coastal Communities and five Population Categories: less than 300 people; 300-1000 people;1,000-2,000 people; 2,000 – 5,000 people and more than 5,000 people. The final Category is that of Housing Estates.

Entrants in any of the Five themes will be assessed under the following criteria: ‘Impact on Community’; ‘Innovation’; ‘Sustainability’; ‘Local Leadership’; ‘Management’; ‘Overall Impression’.

Entrants in any of the Five Population categories will be assessed under the following criteria; ‘Community Participation’; ‘Impact on Community/Area’; ‘Overall impression’.

Entrants in the Housing Estates category will be assessed under the following criteria: ‘Community Participation’; ‘Provision for the Vulnerable’; ‘Degree of Engagement’; ‘Impact on Community’; ‘Community Events’; ‘Overall Impression’.

Interested Groups are asked to submit a written ‘expression of interest’, detailing their preferred Category with a typed A4 summary setting out how they meet the criteria appropriate to their application.

Submissions should be made to
Philomena O’Connell,
Pride of Place Coordinator,
Tourism & Community Development Department,
Clare County Council,
New Road,
County Clare.

Further information on the competition is available at Closing date for receipt of expression of interests is 4.00pm on Thursday, 31st March, 2016.

Monday, 15 February 2016

A 1916 Commemorative Creative Writing Competition for Teenagers

Post primary schools all over County Clare are taking part in the library’s 1916 commemorative creative writing competition for 1st and 2nd Year students. The competition is based on Sheena Wilkinson’s latest novel for young people, Name Upon Name.

Set in Belfast in 1916, the story is told through the main character, fourteen-year-old Helen, whose parents come from mixed religious backgrounds. Helen grows up with Catholic, Irish values from her mother and urban, Protestant Ulster values from her father. Her older cousins are her idols: Sandy, who joined the army straight from school and has already seen action in France, and Michael, who runs away from home to enlist. But before he leaves for France, Michael is deployed to Dublin to help quell the Rising, where he’s expected to open fire on his fellow Irishmen, and Sandy writes home about terrible things on the front.

As readers of Name Upon Name will discover, letters are central to the story’s plot so in keeping with this format, students are required to write a letter or alternatively a diary entry from the point of view of one of the characters in Sheena’s book.

The author has kindly issued the following advice and guidelines to all entrants:

Some things to remember

“Your writing should be creative and imaginative but it should stay within the world of the novel.”

And she says

“I’m not a fan of ‘alternative endings’ – that’s because books already have endings the writer has really thought hard about and that it can be very difficult to add anything to. Often, you end up simply tying up lots of threads that didn’t really need to be tied up. And of course, the ending isn’t the place to start something new so it can be hard for your writing to have much sense of forward momentum. For those of you who like this kind of task, why not think about a prequel? There are lots of clues in the novel about things which have happened when the characters were younger. Again, you could use the format of diary or letter to explore this.”

Word count
“Keep your work under 800 words.”
“When I’m reading and assessing the entries, this is what I’ll be thinking about:

Content – How successful is this as a piece of writing? Was there enough happening to interest a reader?

Conviction – Does this really sound as if it’s in the world of Name Upon Name?

Creativity – How original is the response? Does it, for example, give voice to a character who point of view we didn’t get in the original?

Craft – How well written and edited is this? It’s a shame to write a thoughtful and original piece of work, and then to have it let down by mistakes in the English. Always try to make your work as accurate as you can. One thing I always do is leave my story (or chapter) for a few days and then come back to it with fresh eyes: it’s amazing what you pick up on that you don’t see the first time.”

Sheena Wilkinson
January 2016

Clare County Library wishes all entrants the very best of luck and look forward to a special prize-giving event for the winner and 4 runners up at deValera Library, Ennis on the evening of Thursday the 14th of April. Sheena Wilkinson will be with us to meet with the teenagers and their parents. The closing date for receipt of entries is March 18th 2016.

Friday, 12 February 2016

John Blake, Jesse Smith, & Colm Gannon performing at the Corofin Trad Fest in March 2015

"John Blake, Jesse Smith, & Colm Gannon performing at the Corofin Trad Fest in March 2015." Posted on Youtube on the 8th of May 2015 by Niamhaines.

The Yanks performing at the Corofin Trad Fest March 2015

"The Yanks performing at the Corofin Trad Fest March 6, 2015 (#10)." Posted on Youtube on the 8th of May 2015 by Niamhaines.

Feakle Irish Music Camp - Japanese Musicians Flock to East Clare

Dai Komatsu, an Irish fiddle-player based in Nagoya, Japan, and Erika Mocizuki from Japan, set up a music camp in Feakle, east Clare, for Japanese musicians interested in Irish Traditional Music. More info at This video posted on Youtube on the 24th of January 2016 by Black Bird Music.

Johnny Reidy Céilí Band at the 2016 Step to the West Set Dancing Weekend in Ennistymon, County Clare

"The Johnny Reidy Céilí Band opened the dancing at the 2016 Step to the West weekend in the Falls Hotel, Ennistymon, Co Clare. In the first half [above] of this ceili, the band played the Corofin Plain (starting at 5:10), Claddagh (31:20), West Kerry (50:15) and Caledonian (1:10:25) sets. Sean Longe announced and filled the sets. David Crowe played flute with the band, substituting for Tom Skelly on banjo." Posted on Youtube on the 3rd of February 2016 by Bill Lynch.

"In the second half of this ceili [above], the band played the Kilfenora Plain (starting at 4:55), Connemara (26:45), Ballyvourney Jig (48:45) and CLare Lancers (1:01:20) sets. Sean Longe announced and filled the sets. David Crowe played flute with the band, substituting for Tom Skelly on banjo." Posted on Youtube on the 9th of February 2016 by Bill Lynch.

Aerial views over Tulla and Kilkishen, County Clare

"Aerial footage over areas such as Cullaun lake, turf bogs, new secondary school, new GAA training ground etc. Taken over the summer of 2015." Posted on Youtube on the 6th of October 2015 by pat liddy.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Countess Markievicz prison committal form to go on display in Clare Museum

Funding has been received for the exhibition at Clare Museum of a form committing Countess Constance Markievicz to prison in the aftermath of the Easter Rising.

As one of twelve local authority museums, the museum will benefit from a grant of €25,000 to be made to the Local Authority Museums Network for a joint 1916 exhibition under the network’s banner.

Markievicz was second in command of the Irish Citizen Army in St Stephen’s Green in Dublin during The Rising and later, when the position in the Green became untenable, this force occupied the Royal College of Surgeons.

After the surrender, Markievicz was tried by Court Martial, which the form indicates was held in Richmond Barracks on 4th May, 1916. Her crime is recorded as ‘Did take part in an armed Rebellion and in waging war against His Majesty the King’, and states that her sentence was ‘Death commuted to Penal Servitude for Life’. She apparently escaped the firing squad at the last minute because of her gender.

The framed and glazed document features images of an exhausted Countess and gives a physical description of her appearance, distinguishing features and height on 7th May, 1916. Intriguingly, her date of birth is given on the form as being in 1873 when in fact all of the sources consulted by the Clare Museum curator have given her year of birth as 1868.

The document’s connection to County Clare is a mystery. It is not clear how this prison form, possibly from Mountjoy Prison, came to be in Clare and it is one of the more enigmatic items in the museum collection. It was transferred to Clare Museum from the de Valera Library and Museum in 2000 and may originally have been part of a collection that was transferred to the library from a short-lived Ennis Urban District Council-run museum that existed in Bindon Street in the mid-1960s. Research for the exhibition has still to be completed and if anyone can provide any information about the provenance of the form, it would be gratefully received.

An image of this unusual and unique document was forwarded last year to the producers of 1916: The Irish Rebellion. This landmark documentary series, which is funded by the University of Notre Dame and narrated by Liam Neeson, features many previously unseen images and will be shown initially on PBS across the United States followed by worldwide distribution. It is currently being shown on RTE.

The Markievicz Prison Commital Form is expected to go on display at Clare Museum during the summer of 2016.

Movies from your library for Valentine’s Day

If you are too late to get a booking for that favourite restaurant or if finances don’t allow, grab some chocolates and a bottle of something nice and settle down for a romantic night in with a movie.

Clare County Library has romantic films to suit all tastes – classic love stories, romantic comedies, arthouse love stories, chick flicks and teenage romances. Some of the relationships portrayed end tragically while others are of the happy ever after variety.

For a classic love story, try Casablanca, Gone With the Wind or Love Story. Romantic comedies include Forgetting Sarah Marshall, You’ve Got Mail and Love, Actually. Teenagers might enjoy Clueless, Twilight or 10 Things I Hate About You. Romantic films recently added to stock include The Fault in Our Star, Her, The Theory of Everything and The Lunchbox.

And if you don’t manage to get the kids to bed on time, there’s always Shrek, Up and Wall-E.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Traditional Singer in Residence wanted for County Clare

County Clare has a very strong tradition of singing, particularly in West Clare, and the Arts Office is now looking to promote this tradition amongst younger people through the engagement of a Traditional Singer in Residence. This residency will be a partnership project, utilising the bank of songs featured in the Songs and Singers of Clare from the Carroll Mackenzie Collection produced by Clare County Library. The target age group is 13-18 and the focus is on developing traditional singing amongst young people.

With the historical backdrop of the 1916 commemorations and the excitement of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann coming to Ennis in 2016, Clare County Council believes that this is an exciting time to conduct such a residency in the county. Whilst drawing on the strong traditions of the county, the residency offers the opportunity to a singer to leave a lasting legacy on the development of traditional singing amongst young people as well as an opportunity to focus on their own singing / projects which may be in train.

The Arts Office of Clare County Council has long recognised the distinct value and role of traditional singing in the traditional arts in the county. In 2010 Clare Arts Office worked with the Kilmaley Voluntary Housing Scheme to commission John Tunney, traditional singer, to compose three new songs in the traditional vein. This was the first traditional singing commission to be awarded under the Per Cent for Art Scheme. See

In 2012, Clare County Library, supported by the County Arts Office, launched the web resource Music of Clare at Featuring hundreds of tunes and some of Ireland's best known musicians, this resource has received global recognition for its quality and content. See

In March 2015, following the Music of Clare, the Songs and Singers of Clare was launched. This web resource features over 400 recordings of singers from West Clare recorded in England and West Clare in the 1960's and 1970's by Jim Carroll and Pat McKenzie. See

September 2014 saw the first tranche of singing projects take place in over 20 schools in Clare by the Clare Music Education Partnership. These projects continue today with some of the repertoire selected from the Songs and Singers of Clare.

It is envisaged that the use of these library website resources will be a key component of the residency.

Please click here for more information...

The Traditional Singer in Residence is an initiative of Clare County Council, supported by the Arts Council and Clare Music Education Partnership.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Reading the Past in Ancient Irish Genomes

Geneticists from Trinity College Dublin, and archaeologists from Queens University Belfast, have sequenced the first genomes from ancient Irish humans. The information buried within is already answering pivotal questions about the origins of Ireland’s people and their culture. The genomes show unequivocal evidence for mass migrations into Ireland, which are likely to have brought cultural changes including the transition to agriculture and may even have provided the origin of western Celtic language.

Lara Cassidy, PhD Researcher in Genetics, Trinity College Dublin;
Daniel Bradley, Professor of Population Genetics, Trinity College Dublin;
Eileen Murphy, Senior Lecturer in Osteoarchaeology, Queen's University Belfast.

Posted on Youtube on the 4th of January 2016 by Trinity College Dublin. See also

Monday, 1 February 2016

Blind Date with a difference at your library

This Valentine’s Day, Clare County Library would like to play matchmaker for you and set you up on a blind date…with a book! Following on from last year’s success we are excited to once again present Blind Date with a Book, where you take a chance and check out a book that we have selected, without knowing exactly what that book is until you get it home. We’re hoping we can introduce you to a book you’ll love, but may not have chosen for yourself otherwise. It could be the book you’ve been searching for all your life!

From February 11th-13th you are invited to visit any of the seven participating library branches in Ennis, Ennistymon, Kilrush, Kilkee, Killaloe, Scariff and Shannon where there will be a display of books wrapped in plain paper. Make your selection and bring it to the checkout desk, where you will also receive a sweet treat custom made by Wilde Irish Chocolates in Tuamgraney, to take home along with your newfound book love. This year the selected books will all have some connection to the year 1916 and will include a range of genres and themes but you won’t be able to judge any of them by their cover before you get to know them. Here’s hoping it will be love at first page, but there is no need to worry about any hard feelings or awkwardness if it’s not! If you don’t make that special connection you can simply return it and move on to the next book. After all, there are plenty more books on the shelves!

To view opening hours for Clare County Library’s branches visit or phone 065-6821616.