Creating an Online Archive of Life in Local Communities in 20th century Ireland

Lawrencetown National School, co. Galway, 1946
As part of my Outreach work at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway in association with the Galway Education Centre and Galway County Council I am providing an online facility for schools and active retirement groups to digitally archive stories, films and photographs of life in their localities over the last one hundred years as part of their contribution to the Easter Rising commemorations.
Junior Infants class, Creggs National School, 1971

The BEO (Irish for ‘alive’) project is a wonderful opportunity to commemorate the struggle for Irish independence and its subsequent impact on the lives of of ordinary people. It provides a way to capture online the changing face of local communities throughout a century, that experienced phenomenal economic, social, cultural and political change, by collecting and digitizing the pictures and words of ordinary people that have been handed down through families over many decades. 
At Coxtown Bog, Kiltormer, co. Galway, 1940s
In spite of the massive transformations that Ireland has experienced in technologies, economics and population movements since 1916, the parish school in many parts of the country still serves as the heart of its locality and the people that reside there. It is probably the only vibrant communal institution left that can act as the gatherer of such heritage material. 
Donkey & Trap, McEvoy family, Roscommon, 1909
The BEO project has been in operation for a number of years at this stage and has provided a lovely way particularly for the Irish Diaspora to re-connect with history of their youth, or that of their parents or grandparents. 
Honeymooning in Killarney (Carmel Garvey), 1957
Participating schools as well as heritage and active retirement groups are encouraged to host social evening BEO local heritage events for members of the local community, where attendees bring along or enjoy viewing images and artifacts of their school and geographical area in times past that offer a unique insight into an older Ireland of communal harvesting, livestock markets, religious devotion, a belief in banshees and fairies, turf cutting, dance halls, the ‘Big House’ and the small family farm. Much of this priceless heritage material brought to the school or community hall is often kept in family photo albums stored in attics, wardrobes and drawers often forgotten about as the years pass. 
Harvesting, Eyreville, co. Galway 1940s
The digitised images are then placed on a shared website for the benefit of present and future generations. There will be an information session for schools interested in taking part in the BEO project at 5pm on Tuesday next February 2nd in the Galway Education Centre.

Scanning old photos. BEO Local Community Heritage Night, Lawrencetown School 2015

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