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Decade of Centenaries Programme 2023

Date: 18-05-2023

MAY          Decade of Centenaries Writer in Residence                                      

A residency in all written artforms was advertised in March. It will focus on the events of 1923 and the themes identified nationally.  The aim of this residency is to enable the writer to research and develop new work sensitive to the historical context of the period and in response to the Decade of Centenaries commemoration programme. There will be a strong focus on community engagement and it will run for approximately 6 months.  The brief will highlight that imaginative and innovative approaches to engagement will be a necessary consideration for the successful artist.  The Mayo Arts Service will provide artistic support and the Jackie Clarke Collection will advise on the background material and provide support with engagement activities. 

MARCH          Decade of Centenaries Community Grant Scheme                             

Mayo County Council will invite applications for funding under a Decade of Centenaries Community Grant scheme. The aim of this commemorative funding will be to ensure that local events, personalities and themes are remembered at community level in a respectful, measured, inclusive and non-partisan manner that recognizes the differing perspectives on our shared history. Mayo County Council will seek applications from community groups, historical and commemorative groups and tidy towns groups who wish to commemorate the early years of the new state and the themes identified in the Decade of Centenaries commemoration programme. Closing date March 31st.

JULY          Kathleen Lynn Memorial Garden                            

Cong Tidy Towns Committee propose to create a memorial garden to Kathleen Lynn in the village. The garden will commemorate Ms Lynn who was a suffragette and Chief Medical Officer in the Irish Citizen Army during the 1916 Rising and was imprisoned afterwards. Later she was instrumental in opening St. Ultan’s Hospital in Dublin which played a huge part in tackling the ravages of TB which was rampant at the time. The garden will be designed to comply with all the latest biodiversity regulations.

OCTOBER         Decade of Commemorations Seminar                                             

Mayo County Council will run a seminar covering various aspects of the birth of the new state including social class and gender, emigration, the land question and local legacies of the time. This may be a one-day or a weekend seminar depending on resources.

MARCH          The Children Of Achill and Robert Henri History Festival    

Achill Tourism, Turasóireacht Acla, and the Museum of Childhood Ireland, Músaem Óige na hÉireann will collaborate on an exciting historical, cultural and art history project, exploring the activities of the American artist Robert Henri in Achill between 1913 and 1928.
Being a founding member of the Ashcan school and having a great interest in painting social realities, Henri painted portraits of local children. His striking portraits of the Achill children go beyond a general study of local poverty, but instead capture the individualism and personality of his young sitters, something exceedingly rare in portraits of youth at the time. Thus, in his works, he has managed to preserve the essence of a group that would have otherwise been lost to time. The childrens’ world centred on family life and community, and as such their life stories are an important snapshot of the social, cultural and historic fabric. By acting now, by reaching out to collect and record as much information as possible, this invaluable information is preserved for future generations. The conference will take place in Keel, Achill on March 24th and 25th.

Preservation and Digitisation of the Archive of The Enniscoe Agricultural Credit Bank   

The Enniscoe Agricultural Credit Bank (EACB) was established in 1898 and operated until the late 1930s. It was one of approximately 300 such small scale, local lending and savings banks around Ireland which were founded by the Irish Agricultural Organisations Society (IAOS). The aim of the IAOS was to provide a means of access to capital for small farmers and business people in the wake of the land reforms taking place around Ireland at the turn of the 20th century.
The EACB has faded into history. However, the complete archive of the EACB has been preserved at Enniscoe House, Mayo. The documents include minutes of meetings, detailed loan books and other minutiae of the nascent organisation and describe how a new co-operative order grew organically in rural Ireland. Many of today's agribusiness powerhouses like Kerrygold and our credit union movement, are an impressive legacy of this early movement. Indeed, the movement itself was an inspiration for President Teddy Roosevelt’s New Agricultural Policy in the United States.
Its history is crucial to understanding the legacy of the period, encompassing historic local events such as the reform of land ownership, the impact of the struggle for independence and the events which marked the transition from the period of war, 1919-1923 into the establishment of a new order in Irish society in the period 1923-24. These themes had a significance beyond the local personalities involved, shining a light on how a local community interacted with the wider world, specifically through its diaspora. The archive contains correspondence with emigrants from the area who had deposits with the bank lending it an international dimension.

The North Mayo Heritege Centre propose:

1. To preserve the archive of the EACB by creating a digital archive, comprising of images of every page of the bank’s records.

2. To bring the story of the EACB back to life by publishing articles on the history of the bank in local publications.

JUNE / JULY          Decade of Centenaries in North Mayo - Seminars                                      

A series of online seminars that will commemorate the conclusion of the decade of centenaries in North Mayo will be held in the summer months. The project will focus on providing a holistic understanding of the Civil War, with an emphasis on the motives and actions of those involved and the wider transnational conflict resolutions. The goal is to build a positive, reconciliatory understanding of the Civil War through public discussion and workshopping of the elemental participatory strands within the closing period of the local Irish Revolution. In particular it will focus on the changing society in North Mayo leading up to the conclusion of the Civil War in particular focussing on the land question, labour movement and protest mobilisations, nationalism verses republicanism and the rural social class structure as well featuring the latest research in the social justice impulse in rural society.

OCTOBER          The Pat Chambers Civil War Exhibition                                          

Pat Chambers is a sheep farmer from West Mayo. While renovating an old shed on his land, he found a jar packed full of important documentation relating to the Civil War in the Newport area. This treasure trove included information on Civil War activities in West Mayo, the Newport Sinn Fein accounts and records of payments made relating to the visit to West Mayo of the future Taoiseach, Sean Lemass. Letters from Cleveland, Ohio detailed the strength of feeling in that city in respect of the treaty, while a further letter from Cleveland written by Tom Chambers lamented the death of Jim Moran. Jim, who took the anti-treaty side, lost his life in an engagement with Free State forces in March 1923.
This collection was donated to The Michael Davitt Museum who enhanced the original documents with research that added greatly to our comprehension of this turbulent period in our history. An exhibition of the material was launched at the Museum in July 2022 by Minister Jack Chambers. The exhibit comprises of a series of documents relating to the Civil War and its aftermath.
Some of this historic material originates in Cleveland Ohio, a city where more than 10% of the population claim Irish ancestry. Descendants of many who took part in the War of Independence in West Mayo continue to live there.
The Michael Davitt Museum plan to transport the collection, ancillary exhibits and recorded interviews with local historians to Cleveland in October 2023 and exhibit it in a number of locations there. It is hoped that this visit will strengthen the cultural ties between Cleveland and Mayo and provide opportunities for further cultural collaborations.

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