NUI Galway to launch project to archive personal histories of Tuam Mother and Baby Home

NUI Galway will host a public event next month with members of the Tuam Home Survivors Network to explore the topic of “Archiving Personal Histories: The Tuam Mother and Baby Home”.

The event, co-organised by the university’s Department of History and the James Hardiman Library will take place on Thursday February 7 in Áras na Mac Léinn.

The day will begin with a survivor-led workshop involving members of the Network, together with staff and students from the university. They will then be invited to attend two panel discussions exploring the issues of collecting and archiving the oral histories of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

Speakers at the event will include Catherine Corless, Breeda Murphy, Catríona Crowe, Conall Ó Fátharta, Dr Barry Houlihan, Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley, Dr John Cunningham, Professor Caroline McGregor, and Dr Caitríona Clear.

In the evening, NUI Galway’s president Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh will launch “The Tuam Oral History Project” in the foyer of the new Human Biology Building. Survivor-led, this involves the collection of oral histories from survivors of the Tuam home, as well as people from the local area or those with an interest in contributing to the project.

The primary researchers are Dr John Cunningham and Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley from NUI Galway’s Department of History. The oral histories will be housed in the James Hardiman Library. Elaine Feeney will direct creative projects stemming from the recorded histories, which will be inter-generational, multi-disciplinary and involve survivors and contemporary artists. The creative project will also liaise with local schools and the wider community.

Dr Sarah-Anne Buckley of NUI Galway’s Department of History, said she hoped that through this event and the wider project, the voices of survivors and members of the community in Tuam would be brought to the fore.

“We hope that the survivor-led approach and the creative element of the programme can be used in exploring experiences of other institutions. Historical justice is a key part of this, as these stories have relevance not only to Ireland but to a variety of countries and contexts.”

Dr Barry Houlihan of the Hardiman Library stated that the seminar will discuss the role of oral history and survivor-led testimony as well as its importance for those seeking to make their stories and experiences heard.

“Archives and oral history provide spaces for reflection for present and future communities as well looking on the past. These testimonies will provide an important resource for access to private and public histories and experiences for future generations.”

Following the launch, Padraig Stevens and Elaine Feeney will provide songs and poetry. At 6.15pm, there will be a screening of Mia Malarkey’s documentary, Mother and Baby followed by a panel discussion involving Ms Malarkey, survivor Peter Mulryan, Breeda Murphy from the Tuam Home Survivors Network, and campaigner Eunan Duffy.

To register for the event please visit https://bit.ly/2Rl7goJ.

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