Tara Clarke of Abarta Heritage and the Landscapes of Revolution Project describes the Research Workshop and Memory Sharing event we recently held with the local community in Kilcommon, Co. Tipperary.
One of the aims of the Landscapes of Revolution Project is to work with local communities to uncover their revolutionary past. Significant detail about events during 1913-23 remains preserved in local memory, even when details in the written records are sometimes scant. This is especially true of the human impact of the war, and of details as to where certain events took place. In addition, local communities also hold an often impressive array of historic material relating to the conflict in their area—passed down through the generations to the present day.
In order to tap into some of this local knowledge and expertise we held at Memories Event at Kilcommon as part of the project on 2 September 2021. After spending the afternoon in the picturesque landscape retracing some of the movements of the I.R.A.’s Hill Section during the attack on Kilcommon Barracks, we returned to the village for the community talk. It was held at Áras Chill Chuímín, the village’s community centre, which the parish priest kindly made available to us. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the talk had to be held outdoors, but luckily the weather held, and a good number of the community were able to join us.
We initially spoke about the ambush on Kilcommon barracks, what we had learned about it, and what identifying the historic landscape associated with it can achieve. In addition we shared information and details about some of the free resources we had made use of during the course of the project, and how the local community could also avail of this treasure trove of information. Next we asked the people in attendance for their own memories of the period, something that has already paid dividends with respect to our mapping project. The people of Kilcommon were fantastic as they told us stories they had heard from their parents and grandparents. We learned where some additional safe houses are located, and some people even brought along original objects. These included a local proclamation, a 20th-century shop ledger and a military medal. It was a wonderful evening spent in the company of a community with a special appreciation and enthusiasm about their history and their connection to the War of Independence.
The meeting in Kilcommon was part of the Landscapes of Revolution Project, which is run in partnership with Abarta Heritage. The Kilcommon Ambush Project, which aims to map the archaeological landscape of the War of Independence, was commissioned by Tipperary Heritage Office as part of the Decade of Centenaries Programme.
As part of the Landscapes of Revolution Project, we will be revisiting Kilcommon to investigate some of the safe houses identified with the help of the local community. Later in the year, when restrictions are lifted, we hope to give a final presentation to the community and anyone else interested in the ambush. Our map of the I.R.A and R.I.C movements will be displayed, and we will talk in detail about the ambush and explain how further research can be undertaken.
If you would like to learn more about the Ambush on Kilcommon or the other revolutionary landscapes we are investigating you can visit the project page here.