Wicklow Welcomes iCAN 31st May 2023

A Day out in Wicklow by Emma Laffey
A short video documenting our iCAN meeting and fieldtrip on 31.05.23
Wicklow iCAN group with Martina Maloney, Lynn Scarff, Virginia Teehan and Lorna Elms
Thomás MacConmara giving a keynote address
Virginia Teehan, CEO The Heritage Council
Lynn Scarff, Director of the National Museum of Ireland
Pat Reid and kids from nearby St. Kevins N.S examine some local mining artefacts

The Wicklow iCAN groups were delighted to host our iCAN network partners from accross Ireland to a special event on 31st May to mark a new chapter for the award-winning Irish Community Archive Network (iCAN), the leading organisation championing and supporting community archives in Ireland.

Since 2009, iCAN has supported the creation of 33 online digital archives in Clare, Cork, Galway, Mayo, including 7 in Co Wicklow (see Our Wicklow Heritage). Over 180 volunteers are involved nationwide in managing and supporting the existing community archives.

iCAN was established by the National Museum of Ireland and has been developed in partnership with participating local authority Heritage Officers and with support from Creative Ireland. The Heritage Council is joining iCAN as a new funding partner, which will facilitate an expansion of the initiative and the iCAN team. Together, they have ambitions to support the development of at least 80 digital archives across Ireland by 2028.

iCAN community archive websites are contributory, which means that anyone, anywhere in the world can contribute their photos, maps, letters, records, stories and documents to help build the collections. As well as documenting information about local heritage sites, traditions and well-known local people, the archives are also a valuable source for genealogy and ancestry projects.

Many of the archives also include oral histories and videos and valuable resources such as local ‘census’ documents dating from before the Famine, and visitors can access digital and searchable archives relating to specific graveyards, townlands, and even houses – which in turn gives a unique and valuable insight into family records.

Members of the iCAN network from around the country gathered at the Brockagh Resource Centre, Laragh  yesterday to celebrate the continued expansion of the network. Also present at the event were Martina Maloney, Chair of The Heritage Council, Lynn Scarff, Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Virginnia Teehan, Chief Executive of The Heritage Council. A keynote address was given by Thomás Mac Conmara who spoke of the essential role of  community heritage  archives in recording ‘landscapes of memories’, invaluable but vulnerable cultural heritage information such as field and place names, customs, songs and traditions that would otherwise be lost to society forever.

Following the launch and before heading back on their buses to Cork, Galway, Clare and Mayo,  our visitors were taken on a whistle stop tour led by  our local guides Pat Reid and Joan Kavanagh from Glendalough Heritage Forum and Glens of Lead groups,  and we were joined by Graeme Warren and Conor McDermott from UCD who told us about the wealth of archaeological information that has been significantly contributed to by the annual community excavation at Glendalough. Also included in our tour was the wonderful Glendalough in Lego model which has now found a new home in the OPW Visitor Centre; St. Kevins Table on the Green Road (as featured in the Daoine agus Áit postcard); the interior of St. Kevin’s Kitchen (thank you Joan Power, manager of the Visitor Centre); the Graveyard Trail tour; the ancient stepping stones in the Glendassan River and the nearby remnants of St. Kevin’s medieval pilgrim path.

In 2020, iCAN was awarded the ‘Best Network of Archives Award’ at the highly competitive UK and Ireland Community Archive and Heritage Group (CAHG) Annual Awards.   Heritage Officers and their local authority colleagues  are partners in iCAN and provide key guidance and support to groups in their areas.

Members of the public are invited to visit, contribute to and to volunteer with the digital archives in the Irish Community Archive Network (iCAN). The full list of archives is available at www.ouririshheritage.org

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