The BEO project - Connecting Rural Communities to their past.

I recently enjoyed the warm friendly atmosphere of an old style local rural community night in Coldwood National School near Craugwell county Galway.

There was lots of home-baked scones, cakes and teas served by volunteers as grandparents and parents of the present generation of pupils came back to the school of their childhood days to reminisce and tell stories of life long ago recorded on the night by children for a series of podcasts for the 150 year celebrations of this fine educational institution.
As part of Insight's BEO online local heritage project, I was there to help in the collection of photographs from times past brought in by the older attendees and the identification of those in these images.
To support this process I enlarged and colourised in advance a lot of old images associated with Coldwood as well as bringing along multiple familiar artifacts from Ireland in days gone by such as a wooden school desk complete with inkwell, blotting paper, erasure and 1960s/1970s school books; a milk churn; a transistor radio, a Sony Walkman cassette player, photo slides and vinyl record albums.
The effort was worth it as the photos on display helped reconnect families across the decades. Paddy Cahill(on the top left in photo montage), standing beside his son, points to his dad in a 1910 photo that he had never seen before, whilst Paddy Rooney (on the top right) points to himself in a 1950 photo.
By the end of the night, most of the people in the sample photographs on display were identified as great grandparents, grandparents, parents and themselves by the attendees present.
The interesting and often unique materials collected over the last few years under the BEO online digital local heritage project, supported throughout by the Galway County Heritage Office, will be unveiled at a big celebratory launch next March in the Galway Education Centre
Details to follow at the end of January.

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