River lives: Stories from the Shannon documented in new Limerick oral archive

Jess Casey

Reporter:

Jess Casey

Historian Sharon Slater and Matthew Ben, Curragower boatclub, at the launch of the archive. Below, Jacqui Hayes, Limerick Archives Pictures: Oisin McHugh/True Media

Historian Sharon Slater and Matthew Ben, Curragower boatclub, at the launch of the archive. Below, Jacqui Hayes, Limerick Archives Pictures: Oisin McHugh/True Media

FIRST-HAND accounts of life on the River Shannon as told by Limerick’s fishermen are to be heard for the first time in a new online oral history archive.

Almost forty interviews have been recorded with fishermen and women, reed cutters and boat builders as part of a collaboration between Mary Immaculate College, Limerick City and County Council and the Limerick Archives. 

The recording of these stories and memories on and near the River Shannon is invaluable, according to Dr Maura Cronin, from the MIC Department of History. 

“It allows us to celebrate the skills and experiences of ordinary people; it helps today's and tomorrow's generations to understand the rhythms of a life now disappearing,” Dr Cronin said. 

Participants in the project were interviewed by Limerick historians Ruth Guiry and Sharon Slater. 

These interviews are now available in both the MIC Oral History Collection and the Fisherman’s Tales section of Limerick City and County Council’s new online Oral History Archive. 

Thanks to these interviews, the history and tradition of fishing, reed cutting and boat building on the Shannon will be preserved forever, according to Limerick archivist Jacqui Hayes. 

“Among these interviews are stories on the fishermen’s techniques and methods as well as tales of their camaraderie and friendship,” Ms Hayes said.

This is the first time that oral history interviews have been published online, with other oral history interviews relating to other projects now also available, Ms Hayes added.

“As well as the Fisheries Project, interviews that were conducted as part of the Pigtown Project, Ranks Project, and St. Joseph’s Hospital Archive Project will be put up online for the first time.”

The interviews are now available on the Limerick Archives’ website at www.limerick.ie/oral-history-archive.