A major step forward for oral history in Ireland was heralded recently with the formation of a national organisation dedicated to co-ordinating and strengthening the work of oral history practitioners and groups across the country. The Oral History Network of Ireland is supported by some of the leading oral historians and organisations in the country. It will be formally launched at a major international conference to be held in the Parade Tower of Kilkenny Castle on 16/17 September 2011.One of the main purposes of the September conference is to establish the position of oral history in Ireland and to ascertain how best to advance its cause. Librarians would be particularly welcome to participate in this discussion. The group aim to establish contact with a view to supporting and encouraging anyone interested in the preservation of Ireland’s oral heritage and invite interested parties to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oral history in Ireland has been practiced by many committed individuals and groups for centuries. Embracing practitioners both at community level and within the Academy, and extending to Ireland, North and South, the Oral History Network of Ireland represents an exciting new departure. For the first time in Ireland, a unified network of practitioners is emerging: this will provide a long overdue opportunity for oral historians to pool resources, share information about best international practice and, more importantly, to identify issues relating to the preservation and promotion of Ireland’s oral heritage.
There has been a major growth over the last number of years in the area of oral history and tradition with community groups and individuals across Ireland making significant efforts to record the oral heritage of their area. Many librarians and heritage officers throughout the country have contributed significantly to this development. The evidence suggests that there is a need for support at all organisational levels for individuals and groups practicing oral history in Ireland. The conference in September aims to seriously and comprehensively discuss these issues and to begin to address them in an inclusive and hopefully decisive way by providing a forum where people can seek and share advice on best practice. The founding of the Oral History Network of Ireland is a very significant initiative which will facilitate the voluntary interchange of ideas, experience and expertise between people using living memory as a key historical source.