Louth County Council Decade of Centenaries Programme 2022

'Local Legacies 1922/2022'

The Community Strand of the 2022 Decade of Centenaries Programme

We have now reached the penultimate year in the Decade of Centenaries (2012-2023). This is a complex and sensitive period in our history, as we mark the centenaries of events arising from the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty; the outbreak of the Civil War; and the foundation of the State.

The Government's objective is to promote an inclusive, respectful, authentic, measured and consultative approach to commemorations, which encourages a deeper understanding of the context of the time, recognising the differing perspectives on our shared history and seeking to strengthen peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland.

Louth County Council's Decade of Centenaries 2022 plan

Louth Library Service

1. Historian in Residence Programme

Louth County Council will continue with the Historian in residency programme which began in 2021 and build on the success of this residency. Talks and panel discussions will take a hybrid approach, with both virtual and ‘live’ events planned. Virtual talks allow us engage a much wider audience, local, national and international, as found with the 2021 programme. Libraries NI will partner with our HiR programme in promotion of all talks etc.

 Specific actions the Historian in Residence will be engaged in include:

  • Creation of content for library blog. The articles will focus on historical events throughout the entire county which occurred during this period of history., e.g. Civil War in Co Louth; Louth people in the Civil War.
  • Delivery of a series of lectures and panel discussions across the county. Themes to be covered will include:
    • Civil War
    • Cumann na mBan
    • Frank Aiken and his impact on the period in Co Louth and beyond
    • Dundalk Gaol in 1922
    • Imprisonment of women during the Civil War
    • Pro-Treaty women during the Civil War
    • The Big House in Time of Revolution
    • Evolution of policing following partition
  • Creation of content for a series of articles about how the county council and other local government bodies functioned during the British withdrawal in Spring 1922 and the heavy fighting of the Civil War the following summer and autumn. These articles will make use of the minute books held in the County Archives Service.

2. Secondary School Collaboration - Graphic Novel Creation

An Artist will host workshops with students and teach them how to create a graphic novel in terms of character design, story structure, dramatisation etc. By the end of the four workshops, students will have created a graphic novel of their own. The facilitator will focus on events or characters relating to Louth in 1922.

3. 'The Great Escape', Prison Diaries - Primary School Creative Writing Initiative

Afacilitator will host a number of  workshops with 4th/5th class students from a local primary school and work with them to create their own prison diaries, and illustrate a map of the prison. Participants will create their back stories, telling us about their prison experience and how they would plan their escape, after exploring the history of that time.

By the end of the two workshops, students will have created a prison diary of their own and an illustrated escape map from the prison and in the process explored and learned about Ireland in 1922. The works will be displayed in the school and posted on Louth Library Services social media.

Louth Archives Service

1. Conservation and Digitisation of Louth Public Archives

The purpose of the project is to develop curated digital content to support research and scholarship by providing free online public access to original public archival sources. To achieve the purpose, the project will digitise a quantity of Rural District Council and Board of Guardian minute books that support the 1921-1923 period. Those in poor condition will receive treatment by a professional conservator prior to being digitised. The digitisation will be carried out by a professional digitisation company using equipment that conforms to archival standards. Once digitised, a public access copy of the volumes will be placed on the County Archives website for researchers and members of the public to view.

The minute books contain a range of subjects handled by the councils and illustrate their concerns of both local and national political and social issues affecting society at the time. They support many themes such as social and economic history, the land question, the impact of partition on communities living along the border, the impact of the revolutionary period on families and children, the role of women in society, the labour movement, the aftermath of World War I, local government reform, and a changing society.

Louth Arts Service

1. An Táin Arts Centre Remembrance Trilogy; Part 3 - An Uncivil War

This is the 3rd part of An Táin's Remembrance Trilogy following on from Easter Service and Women of Independence.

This part will focus on the Civil War. Like the previous two projects this will be a piece of community theatre devised in conjunction with Upstate Theatre group and members of the community. This part of the trilogy will be based around the Civil War and stories from Louth during that time. The theatre piece will be cast, written and produced for performance in An Táin Arts Centre in November.

2. County Louth Artist Book Project

This project is based on an open call for visual artists to create work, in the Print Studio in Creative Spark, in response to the centenaries and associated themes in the Louth region.  A collection of books will designed and printed by the artists. We will build a “book shelf” to house them in. This can be dismantled easily and move from location to location -  to the county libraries, County Museum, DkIT, Creative Spark Downtown Hub, etc.

We will also commission some of the artists to hold workshops for community groups.

All of the books made will be in response to the store of archival material in the County Museum, Libraries and County Archives and specific to the County of Louth.

County Museum Dundalk

1. Faraway Hills Educational Digital Resource Pack

Faraway Hills is an exhibition chronicling Louth’s historical experience during the period 1916-1949.  It will highlight and focus upon the impact of the War of Independence, the introduction of the Border, Civil War, and the Emergency on the county.

The proposed project will see the research, development and design of a digital resource pack featuring a selection of 25 display artefacts.  Designed for a Primary School audience, teachers will be in a position to highlight the nature of life at the time and the impact that these seminal events had on the day-to-day lives of residents in Louth.  The resource pack will consist of 25 high quality images complete with descriptive text and some general information about each item.  The resource will be developed in a way which will facilitate the production of a hard copy version of these cards.  Cards will be available in English and Irish.

2. Faraway Hills Secondary Schools Outreach Project

As an add on to the upcoming museum exhibition ‘Faraway Hills’, this project will see the development of a script for a scenario-based role –playing event set in Louth in the run-up to the Civil War.  Led by a narrator, class groups will be invited to participate in a story which will highlight the impact of the Civil War on families and friends alike as the toll of the Treaty and Partition are felt.  As the narrative progresses the class group is invited to assume the role of the story’s main character.  Over the course of the story (which will have been inspired by real-life events) the group will have the chance to make a series of decisions which will determine:

  • if he/she participates in the War
  • what side he/she will takes – Pro-/Anti-Treaty
  • the manner in which he/she is subsequently affected by the War etc.

Once the story has been completed the class will be invited by the narrator to discuss their thoughts and what insights have been learnt.  Of particular interest will be the discussions centred on what motivated particular decisions; indeed it will also be possible to review other potential outcomes had a different decision be made.

Historian in Residence

We are delighted that Dr. Thomas Tormey will be continuing his residency as Louth County Council's Historian in Residence for the 2022 programme. Dr. Tormey discusses the role with Librarian Barry Smith. Watch this conversation via the video below (you may need to accept cookies in order to view the video).

Events 2022

spiritual-wounds

Spiritual Wounds: Trauma, Testimony and the Irish Civil War: Dundalk Library will host an event with Ardee historian Dr. Síobhra Aiken in conversation with Louth County Council Historian in Residence Dr. Thomas Tormey on Tuesday June 28th at 6pm. Everyone is welcome, no booking required. Contact 042-9353190 for further information. This event follows the recent publication by Dr. Aiken of a book by the Irish Academic Press. As part of her doctrinal research she uncovered an archive of previously overlooked testimonies by pro and anti-treaty men and women. In their light she re-evaluates the emphasis on silence and amnesia in the perception of the Civil War and its aftermath. The event is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 initiative. Dr. Aiken has a close connection to County Louth and is the great-granddaughter of Frank Aiken, one of the leading figures from the War of Independence and Civil War in County Louth.

Previous Events 2021

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Our full programme of talks from 2021 are now available as podcasts on Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/show/52FI238xrRbDKKOFrUxy2b?si=PvHWxAJPSEaRkoBL--aBGQ 

These lecture are also available to watch on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqdfK2wPFp6nKBh6tMNJybX5-I587_Lz_

Louth County Archives

Launch of 'Dundalk Jail during the Irish Civil War'

The launch of a short-film and accompanying booklet on ‘Dundalk Jail during the Civil War’ took place in Louth County Archives Service on 23rd March 2022 to commemorate the forthcoming centenary of the ‘Hole in the Wall’ escape that occurred in July 1922. It was launched by An Cathaoirleach, Councillor Pio Smith. Also speaking at the event were Joan Martin, CE of Louth County Council and Donal Hall, president of the County Louth Archaeological & Historical Society, who researched and wrote the script.

The project was a collaboration between Louth County Archives and the County Louth Archaeological & Historical Society as part of the Louth County Council Decade of Centenaries Programme 2021. The Decade of Centenaries Programme is funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Louth County Archives preserves and makes available local records illustrating the development of the county. It is part of the former prison that became a chief factor in the revolutionary period in Co Louth. In addition to holding political prisoners, the prison was the setting for hunger strikes, several escapes and three executions.

Due to the general interest in what took place at this time, it was decided that a definitive account of the events that led up to the ‘Hole in the Wall’ escape should be created. The account focusses on the Government invasion of Dundalk in July 1922, the imprisonment and subsequent mass escape of Frank Aiken and his men, the capture of Dundalk by Aiken in August, the recapture by Government three days later, and the use of the gaol to hold anti-Treaty prisoners. The booklet contains a transcript list of escapees and a list of Co Louth Civil War fatalities. Both the film and the booklet feature archives that were donated locally as well as several from national repositories. 

It is intended that the project will help in giving a better understanding of the events in Louth during this significant, yet very difficult period in our history. The short-film will be available on Louth County Archives YouTube channel and the booklet can be accessed on the website www.louthcoco.ie, while hard-copies of the booklet will be available from the libraries and County Archives.

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