Oral History – A tool to explore our past

Oral Heritage

Ireland is in many ways defined by its storytelling and oral culture. For generations, the knowledge of our past was passed from generation to generation, around an open hearth fire, the ancient forum for lore and tradition.

A key application of oral history surrounds the capturing of this information and its preservation for the future. Effective oral history projects must attend to central aspects including the need for research and preparation, a strong ethnical process, archival structures and a programme for outreach and dissemination of collected material.

Oral history is the digital recording and preservation of historical information, memory and tradition, from people with personal knowledge of past events.  The method can also capture oral tradition, inherited by the interviewee from the generations before them.  It can also refer to elements of our past including folklore, beliefs, customs, myths, rituals and practices.  As both a method of exploring the past and as a resource, oral history helps illuminate more nuanced and human insights into our history.

 Iverk Show 2016 (photo by DLedwidge)

Iverk Show 2016

Iverk Show Oral History Project
The Iverk Show Oral History Project (ISOHP) documents oral heritage and memory associated with the Iverk Show, Ireland’s oldest agricultural show.  The project began in 2015 to capture information to celebrate the 190th anniversary of the show in 2016.  The overwhelmingly positive response to the project has now led to an ongoing programme in advance of the 200th anniversary of the show in 2026.

The ISOHP was developed through the co-operation of the Kilkenny Heritage Officer with the Iverk Show Committee.   In early 2016, Dr. Tomas Mac Conmara, an oral historian and heritage consultant, was appointed to conduct a number of interviews.

N. Storey, E. Storey & N. Brennan

N Storey, E. Storey & N. Murphy

The Interviews
The interviews for the ISOHP were conducted in March 2016 by oral historian and heritage consultant Dr. Tomás Mac Conmara in locations at Tybroughney and Belline, County Kilkenny, Béalough, County Waterford and Carrick-On-Suir, County Tipperary.   Four men and one woman ranging in ages from sixty-seven to ninety-four, were interviewed. To read segments of the interviews click here. To listen to segments of the interviews click here.

Interview Approach for ISOHP
The interviews were designed by the consultant to operate in a semi-structured format, in order to elicit the type of conversational narratives which most interviewees would be comfortable with. In addition, this method provided the optimal opportunity to follow lines of memory which may not have been anticipated prior to the interview. To find out more on the interview approach click here.

How can you help?
If you have memories or tradition associated with the Iverk Show that you would like to share, or know someone you feel should be recorded in time, please email heritage@kilkennycoco.ie with the following information

  • Suggested Interviewee
  • Why you feel they should be interviewed for ISOHP
  • Any information that would assist with the interview
  • Your contact details (to follow up and arrange interview)