Culture night at the Jackie Clarke library

Upwards of 300 people attended the culture night at the Jackie Clarke Library and Archives in Ballina. The highlight of the night was the showing of old films taken by Jackie Clarke from the 1950s. On show was rare, unseen, footage of various events from Ballina and Swinford, including Corpus Christie processions, sports days, and Bunree Swimming Pool. Another film showed the unveiling of the monument to Ballycroy hunger striker Seán Mac Neela, who died in 1940. The films were shown in relays to accommodate the crowds on the night. They was preceded by a presentation from Paddy Lenihan from the National Graves Association, a non-politically aligned group that looks after some 500 graves of the patriot dead across the 32 counties.

Library curator Sinéad McCoole was the hostess while Anne Clarke, wife of the late Jackie Clarke, was also in attendance with her son Cllr Peter Clarke, Loretta Clarke-Murray, and county librarian Austin Vaughan. Nineteen seventies hunger striker Dolores Price travelled from Belfast for the screening. Paddy Hawe from the National Library recited poetry. Newport’s Dan Hoban sang ‘The Ballad of Tony D’Arcy’ ,’Seán Mac Neela’, and ‘The Patriot Game’, while Charlie Keating from Westport rendered ‘The Foggy Dew’ and ‘The West’s Awake’. Grace Kilgannon from Easkey gave a rousing ‘Óró Sé Do Bheatha ‘bhaile’ honouring her namesake Granuaile, and Matthias Gormley from Tuam recited ‘The Man From God Knows Where’. In honouring tradition, the night concluded with ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’.

Culture Night was a national event where museums, galleries, and libraries stayed open late and hosted free cultural events for the public. The Jackie Clarke Library and Archives, with its unique collection of Irish manuscripts, posters, films, newspapers, and memorabilia, attracted more than 1,000 visitors during September, offering tours of a small selection of the 100,000 items in the collection. Further winter tours are planned.


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