‘When an old man dies, a library burns’



Cuimhneamh an Chláir is an independent, not-for-profit, community based charity (CHY20976) that aims to record, document, archive and share the memories, experiences, customs, traditions and practices that characterise County Clare. We are motivated by a sense of urgency, mindful that our current elderly population may represent the last link to an older way of life in Clare. We intend to provide a platform for the dissemination of the material we collect through co-operation with community groups, schools, third level institutions, and the broader public.


Progress since our formation

Since the establishment of Cuimhneamh an Chláir hundreds of Clare’s elders have been digitally recorded by our entirely voluntary group amounting to 550 interviews. With each recording, the value of our work is reinforced by the realisation that once lost, no means on earth can bring these unique memories back. An early policy, passed by the founding members of Cuimhneamh an Chláir was to provide each family of an interviewee, with a free copy of the recording. In the case of families who have since lost their loved ones, the opportunity to hand back a disk containing the voice and memories of their grandfather or grandmother, husband, uncle or grandaunt, has been an incredibly rewarding and gratifying act.


What we record

Our collectors have been able to elicit and record a vast range of oral heritage and tradition. Cuairteoirí have drawn recollections from Clare elders on such subjects as the fair days, turf cutting Lord Haw Haw, animal cures, evictions, house dances, calendar customs and marriage traditions. In addition, numerous other facets of social and cultural life in Clare have been recorded for posterity.  


Changing the culture of collection 

Cuimhneamh an Chláir has since its inception, encouraged a process of collecting oral heritage in Clare that benefits the entire county. We believe that what is collected in Clare, should be made available to the people of Clare, both at home and abroad. We have developed a system whereby collected material, will be made available to current and future generations both in Ennis and with online content at www.clarememories.ie. We work with local community groups to further develop folklore collection and add to our archive.    


A few facts about Cuimhneamh an Chláir

  • We are the largest countywide, systematic, folklore and oral history groups in Ireland
  • We have been nominated for three National Awards
  • Our logo is an Open Hearth Fire with two people in conversation (Cuaird)
  • We have been featured on Nationwide and TG4
  • We are a founding member of the Oral History Network of Ireland
  • We give a copy of each interview back to the family of the interviewee for free
  • We have presented at conferences and seminars across Ireland and America
  • We abstract interviews to make interviews searchable and keep the focus on the voice
  • We have spoken at and held over thirty public events since our formation
  • Damien Dempsey, Des Bishop, Martin Hayes and Brendan Bugler have both publicly praised Cuimhneamh an Chláir



National Development PlanLEADERThe European Agricultural Fund for Rural DevelopmentClare Local Development CompanyDepartment of the Environment Community and Local Government