New book hopes to inspire future publications

An RTÉ ‘Nationwide’ programme being broadcast tonight (April 25th) celebrating the publication of a book on Clogher, Co Donegal has strong Longford connections.

An RTÉ ‘Nationwide’ programme being broadcast tonight (April 25th) celebrating the publication of a book on Clogher, Co Donegal has strong Longford connections.

‘Nationwide’, one of RTÉ’s most popular programmes, will feature the publication of a new book on the history of the townland of Clogher, Barnesmore, Co Donegal, the birth place of Josephine O’Donnell, former CEO with Co Longford VEC, who was one of the driving forces behind the project.

Josephine, who has been living in Newtownforbes since 2001, was chairperson of the group and the co-script writer on the project. It took almost four years and many round trips from Longford to Donegal before the final 230 page book was unveiled at the end of last year.

The easy-to-read book includes sections on the geography of the area; the self-sufficiency of the people of Clogher during the difficult periods from the 1930s to 1960s; emigration; pastimes; music and family histories.

The book, entitled ‘Clogher – Past & Present’, has been very well received since it was launched in November 2011 and the producers of the ‘Nationwide’ programme have taken a particular interest in it as it will serve as a template for other rural communities who wish to record details of their treasured past.

In addition to looking at the content of the book, the ‘Nationwide’ programme will focus on the knowledge and skills required in documenting the history of a townland such as Clogher – which is a rural area without any public buildings such as shops, churches or schools.

It is hoped that through this programme, other communities might be encouraged to engage in recording and writing their histories.

The project was aided by a grant from the Donegal Partnership Company which allowed the group to collaborate with the people with the right skills. Continuing the Longford link, Willie Burns, a tutor with Co Longford VEC Adult Education Service, was engaged as co-editor of the book with Josephine.

“Having a deep interest in the past and in literature, Willie was able to place the history of the townland within a wider historical context along with having a clear and enjoyable style of writing,” Josephine remarked.

Much of the desk research and preparatory work was carried out in Longford County Library. According to Josephine, the project would never have succeeded without the library’s help.

“The personnel in the library, especially Mary Carleton Reynolds and Martin Morris, were just great and provided much valuable advice. In particular, the inter-library lending service was invaluable as much of the material had to be sourced from libraries in Dublin and Donegal,” Josephine said, thankfully.

Josephine also had to single out the help and encouragement received from friends such as Jackie and Kitty Hughes, both of whom have a great interest and knowledge in history.

The book also includes some quirky additions such as a glossary of local words and pictures of different patterns used in Aran sweaters, as well as some beautiful photographs taken of Clogher down through the ages.