Students at 12 primary schools in the Skibbereen area are taking part in a very interesting and important local history project organised by Skibbereen Heritage Centre as part of Cork County Council’s Centenary Programme
The ‘West Cork: Stories of the Revolution’ project is inviting primary school children to collect stories relating to the 1916-1923 period from their own area. The project model is based on the highly successful Irish Folklore Commission which gathered so much important local history and folklore from schoolchildren in 1937. The Cork schools in the Irish Folklore collection have just recently become available online at www.duchas.ie/en.
The aim of this new project is to raise awareness of the 1916-1923 revolutionary period among primary school students by asking them to gather history and folklore relating to that period from their own local communities.
Students are being encouraged to speak to their parents, grandparents, other relations or neighbours and to record their stories relating to the 1916-1923 period.
The material collected will form a digital archive of stories which will be retained by each school and the collection may also form part of a future publication.
Most of the primary schools in the Skibbereen area participated in the 1937 Folklore Commission and that archive now comprises a very beneficial resource. The stories make for great reading 80 years later and tell us a great deal about this locality. It is hoped that this valuable archive will serve as an inspiration for the schoolchildren collecting material for the ‘West Cork: Stories of the Revolution’ project as the stories they collect will be there for posterity. What makes this project so special is that the young pupils are writing and collecting their own stories about their own history. In another generation, this information may well be lost.
One of the stories recorded in 1937 refers to the destruction of Lissalohorig bridge, just about two miles north-east of Skibbereen town. The incident occurred in 1921 when local Republicans broke up the very strategically located bridge so that the Auxiliaries and Black and Tans could not get lorries across it.
That story was recorded by Máire O’Sullivan, a pupil of Lissalohorig NS in 1937, who was given the information by her father, Pádraig. Maire’s brother, John O’Sullivan, all of 95 years young, is still living at the O’Sullivan home place at Lissalohorig.
Last week, John met a direct descendant of one of the men who was involved in that incident in 1921, eleven year-old Eirinn Duggan and told her the story of the bombing of the bridge. Eirinn, a sixth class pupil at Ballinacarriga National School, Dunmanway, is a great-granddaughter of the late Patrick Hurley of Curraghnaloughra, Drinagh. Hurley was one of three brothers who were members of the Drinagh company of the IRA. He was one of those who took part in the destruction of Lissalohorig bridge in 1921. Referring to the incident, Patrick Hurley wrote in 1935: ‘During all this time I attended 3 coy parades per week, cutting enemy communications on dozens of occasions. Having been wounded badly in the destruction of a bridge at Lissalohorig, when the bridge gave way I, with another man, was pitched into the river 20 feet below, the effects of which I still suffer today.’
The ‘West Cork: Stories of the Revolution’ project is supported by Cork County Council as part of its Centenary Programme. The project co-ordinators are Margaret Murphy and Philip O’Regan of Skibbereen Heritage Centre and they have already visited and outlined the details of the project to the participating schools. Muintir Skibbereen Credit Union are also supporting the project by sponsoring two prizes, one for the best individual pupil and one for the best overall school entry.
The 12 primary schools taking part in the ‘West Cork: Stories of the Revolution’ project are: St. Joseph’s Girls’ National School, Skibbereen; St Patrick’s Boys’ NS, Skibbereen; Rathmore NS, Baltimore; Derryclough NS, Drinagh; Caheragh NS, Caheragh; Abbeystrewry NS, Skibbereen; Gaelscoil Dhochtúir Uí Shúilleabháin, Skibbereen; Scoil Naisiunta Cleire, Cape Clear; Lisheen Mixed NS, Lisheen; SN Bhride National School, Union Hall; Leap NS, Leap, and Ballinacarriga Mixed NS, Dunmanway.