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Digging up Clare Roots

Clare Champion, Friday, 22nd October, 2010

by Dearbhla Acheson

Clare Roots Society, in conjunction with the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sports, the Clare Education Centre and Clare County Library, are launching a genealogy project for primary schoolchildren all over Clare which involves the collection and transcription of as many memorial cards as can be rounded up.

The resulting database of Clare forbearers will be preserved by the Local Studies Library and will be available on their website.

A spokeswoman for the Clare Roots Society said that this is a very significant project and it will hopefully be used to create a model for similar projects in other counties.

"We would be aiming to collect at least 5,000 cards, so we're hoping all schools get involved in this interesting project," she said.

During the month of November, schoolchildren across the county will collect memorial cards from their families and friends and bring them to their schools to have them photocopied or scanned.

"The cards should be of Clare people at home or abroad and they will be documented as primary sources of Clare genealogy, before knowledge of these people is lost forever.

"The copies of the cards will then be sent to Clare Education Centre in Ennis and the original cards will be returned immediately to their owners," she added.

The Education Centre will then transcribe the information on the cards into spreadsheets for donation to Clare Library. Clare Roosts members and retired teachers, Nuala Kennedy and Phyllis Malone, are managing the project on behalf of Clare Roots. The project is part funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

"We need to get a strong response from schools on this project, as it is a very important and unique project. We are asking all our members to encourage schools, teachers, parents and children in their local area to take part," the spokeswoman said.

Every child who takes part in the project will get a junior genealogist badge and there will be a gala event when the project is complete next Spring, where substantial prizes will be presented to the winners.

Schools can use this project to fulfil part of their history curriculum strands, including Myself and My Family, Continuity and Change and Local Studies.

Individual prizes in the project will be awarded for the most cards collected by an individual, the oldest card without a photo, the oldest card with a colour photo, the oldest card with a black and white photo, the best written story about a person whose card is presented, the best essay on the importance of memorial cards and the best new design for a memorial card.

There will also be prizes for schools involved in the junior genealogy project, for the school that collects the most cards, the school which collects the most cards per capita and for the best display of cards, which can be done locally, either in the school, the church or the local hall.

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