GMIT has announced that Fulbright scholar and University of Notre Dame anthropologist, Dr Deb Rotman, has joined the GMIT Culture and Environment programme as a guest lecturer for the 2015/16 academic year. Dr Rotman will collaborate with GMIT Mayo and UCD on her project, “Clachans and Cultural Landscapes of County Mayo, Ireland: Local History, Folklore, and Archaeology of 19th-Century Domestic Sites.”
As part of her research work, and in addition to her GMIT lecturing role, she will hold a number of public lectures in towns in Mayo in December and June (2016 ), and hopes to engage with local people to compile a series of oral histories about clachans in the west. A clachan is a historical cluster of single-storey cottages once belonging to farming or fishing people who had strong ties of kinship, usually sited on poor land.
Dr Rotman says: “They were critical components of the Irish landscape, particularly in the west in the decades prior to the Great Famine, yet they have been almost completely ignored in historical, archaeological, and architectural studies of the region.”
“I hope to oversee a landscape survey of clachans in rural Mayo in partnership with students and staff on the GMIT Culture and Environment (with Tourism ) programme on campus, previously heritage studies. I will also be working on this project with the School of Archaeology at University College Dublin. I will undertake archival research, oral history collection, and other methods to research 19th century sites in the county.
“All the data I gather will be used to document heritage resources for the National Monuments Service, Archaeological Survey Database, as well as guide future excavations in collaboration with GMIT Mayo and UCD.”
Dr Rotman has visited Ireland on occasion over many years, having worked with archaeologists at UCD. She envisions a multi-year project with excavations at field schools in Ireland one summer and in the United States the next. “Alternating between the two sites will give us a lovely, holistic, and transatlantic view of what immigrant life was like in the 19th century,
“GMIT is an ideal home base for the project because of its Culture and Environment (with Tourism ) programme and its location. Castlebar is uniquely situated in an historically and archaeologically rich landscape" she explained.
Welcoming Dr Rotman to GMIT, Michael Gill, head of Dept of Business, Humanities & Technology, GMIT Mayo, said: “We are delighted to have Dr Rotman as a colleague in residence for the academic year and look forward to the opportunities that may arise for our students and staff.”
Dr Rotman’s public lectures will take place in the Mayo County Library and the National Museum of Country Life, Castlebar, on dates yet to be confirmed. She will share projects outcomes and plans for future excavations.
Dr Rotman is interested in connecting with members of the community who have clachans on their properties as well as oral histories of life in these settlements. She may be reached at (087 )7695039 or by email at [email protected].