Arts Interview: Margaret Franklin

John Rainsford


John Rainsford

The Arts Interview-Margaret Franklin
Originally from a hill townland in the parish of Cappamore, I now live in Doon.

Originally from a hill townland in the parish of Cappamore, I now live in Doon.

So, all in all, I am basically a home bird and like familiar things. The Slieve Phelim’s and the Galtee’s are as good a point of reference as any. I went to Bilboa NS in the 1960s and we were wild and free mountainy children. Next, I attended Secondary School in the Mercy Convent Doon and later did a B.A. in university College Cork (UCC). Career-wise I was employed as a senior library assistant with Limerick Public Library service for almost 30 years.

As part of my job I worked in libraries throughout the county so I got to know the county very well. I had a particular interest in local studies librarianship but tended to read different types of books regardless of the 

I completed an M.A. a few years back at the University of Limerick (UL) and topped this off with a Certificate in Art History.

I have just published the second edition of my book called Tracing Your Limerick Ancestors.

It was produced by Flyleaf Press a Dublin publisher which specialises in genealogical publications.

The first edition came out some 11 years ago so it needed to be updated. There has been a huge increase in interest in tracing one’s ancestors both locally and abroad. The ancestor’s book aspires to be the definitive guide for people tracing their Limerick roots. It is meant to be the first port of call for people on that journey. Currently, there is a huge amount of new sources online and the book explains how to access these sources in detail.

Doing research for the book was especially enjoyable as it complemented my work in the library perfectly.

The process of doing it taught me all I needed to know about the historical sources that are relevant for genealogical research. I, also, learned a huge amount about other library and archive holdings. However, this kind of writing is slow, difficult and does not pay very well. You have to be very disciplined but writing helps to refine you thinking and it has helped me to focus. I sometimes dream about writing a big block buster which would chiefly be about sex and money. That is what sells, after all. It might even knock Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades of Margaret, perhaps!) off its pedestal!

Writers should be valued and respected, especially those involved in local historical research.

But the market for this work is very small, in relative terms, so you need to supplement it financially. However, no matter what type of writing you are engaged in it will help to shape your thinking. It can also discipline and focus you especially if you are a bit ‘scatter brained’ like me. I love reading mythology and I think about mythical stories all the time. They often provide another way of explaining things. Indeed, I lived in Scandinavia for two years and found their ancient sagas to be fascinating. I would love to revisit the place sometime.

I went, there, on a career break with a view to going to Australia but never got there as I stayed up north longer than I intended. I, then, spent almost two years in Holland but ended up becoming very ill over there and had to come home.

Anyone who doesn’t emerge from a library more enriched and cultured has missed the point about that institution.

I would certainly like to think that I soaked up all it had to offer while I worked there. I am now retired from the library service and no longer work in the area of family history research but I hope that my book will offer at least a glimpse into all that I have learned over the years. I am very dependent in my life for the help that I get from my librarian friend, Aileen Dillane, who always steers me along. My husband, Johnny, and a cousin, Bill Franklin, have both, also, influenced me strongly. I heard a lovely old saying today that ‘those who draw the water should always remember those who sank the well’. My nieces and nephews all think that I am a bit off the wall but they are also my other great motivators. I love to challenge their thinking and assumptions.

At the moment, I am researching the White Estate, associated with Kilmoylan area of Doon, as part of a local historical project. I am, also, a member of the Thomond Archaeological Society and Doon Historical Society, enjoying winter and summer lectures and outings with both groups. So, overall, I am glad to be alive and thankful for what I have got.

Limerick City needs a few new iconic cultural buildings such as a decent museum and a dedicated heritage library.

Our City Fathers in their wisdom have called a civic hall after a horse. Even if that animal had galloped around the globe twice it is still only a horse and a totally inappropriate name for a civic building. We need to reassess the church architecture in the city, which I find, for the most part, to be dull and uninspiring. We could do with some smaller contemporary church buildings.

I am certainly not a church basher but I do not see anything really wrong with taking down some buildings if they have outlived their usefulness and no longer express the spirit of the age. Once you document and photograph them from every angle and record their attributes, then, why not just redesign those sites?

I saw some really beautifully designed churches when I lived in Scandinavia. Today, our city centre has become decimated of people and the bookshops are virtually empty. It is terrible so we could do with some timely guidance from informed planners and realistic architects.

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