Main Street Move for the O’Donohoe Archive to The Island Centre

Work on the Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project has moved into a new base in The Island Centre on Castleisland’s Main Street this week. Pictured during the move are: project Manager, Janet Murphy and Chairman, Johnnie Roche.  Photograph: John Reidy
Taking a break in Dromulton during the (Irish crew) filming of the Poff and Barrett story for the BBC1 Murder Mystery and My Family series were: John and Brendan Reidy with Tomo Burke and Michael Sugrue. Photograph: Janet Murphy.

“The late Colm Kirwan would have nodded gently with a subtle gesture of approval were he here to learn of the relocation of the Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project to the Island Centre, Main Street, Castleisland,” said Janet Murphy the project manager as the move from the top of the town gathered pace early this week.

Colm’s Behind-the-Scenes Work

“Colm was secretary of the project and he died suddenly on July 7th. His loss has left a gaping void in the committee.

“Few were privy to the voluntary work Colm did for the project behind the scenes and a major part of his contribution was sourcing grant aid to keep the archive afloat. This, naturally involved form filling, collating information, and more form filling,” said Janet.

Late Night Toil

“Only those who have experienced the process will properly understand the late night toil of such work.

“The loss of Colm has changed the dynamic of the committee, but not its objectives: Colm would not have wanted that.

“The object is to archive the history and heritage of Castleisland and its surrounds – the work must go on, and indeed it does.”

Locating to The Island Centre

Janet is pleased that the new premises in the Island Centre, aided by the generous support of Donie and Noreen Ring, will provide a central home in the town for the growing archive.

Its earlier location, the co-working office space in the historic Carnegie Building and now a modern, comfortable environment, worked very well but it became clear from the material coming in that the project needed a home of its own.

Established In 2014

“Since the Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project was established in 2014, the research material of the late school principal, Michael O’Donohoe, kindly donated by his sister, the late Breda Brooks, has been catalogued and published online,” Janet continued.

“As a consequence of this, with close to 200 articles online, the project has participated in three Murder, Mystery and My Family documentaries arising from historical material published on its site.

BBC Following the Progress of Twiss Case

The wrongful conviction of John Twiss, hanged in 1895 for the murder of James Donovan, features in two of the documentaries, and the programme makers are carefully following the progress of the application for the Presidential Pardon of Twiss. The outcome is expected in the short term.

Filming the Poff and Barrett Story

“The equally wrongful convictions of Sylvester Poff and James Barrett, earlier, have also caught the attention of the documentary makers and filming was recently carried out in the Castleisland area.  It is anticipated this will be screened in the coming months.

“The project has recently surveyed the invaluable archive of the Presentation Convent in Castleisland with a history stretching back to 1846.

Suppport from Craggeen Employment

“This, as well as other major projects being explored, means there is much hard work ahead in preserving this rich history.

Unfortunately, the project does not generate income, such is the nature of the work.

“Therefore, fund raising is ongoing, and the project is particularly indebted to Craggeen Employment for helping the project to be staffed.

“At recent committee meetings, a change of name has been debated to more accurately reflect the content of the archive as it stands, the projects in hand, and those of the future.

“On 16 June, the committee met in the Carnegie as the country emerged from the pandemic lock-down. It would sadly prove to be Colm’s last meeting among us.

Castleisland District Heritage

“By a unanimous show of hands, Castleisland District Heritage incorporating the Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project was voted as the new name for our endeavours.

“The project website is currently being revamped to reflect the change and more news about this will follow shortly,” Janet concluded.

In the meantime you can access the site with a click on the link here:  

Project Chairman, Johnnie Roche and Manager Janet Murphy spoke to Treasa Murphy on Radio Kerry on Tuesday and you can hear the conversation with a click on the link here: