Rekindling The Oral Narrative

Hi, Everyone,

Words are like footprints, they lead you on a journey. Sometimes the journey is linear but more often than not there are the dreaded twists and turns. Journeys can be scary because they are often a step into uncharted territory, and coming back to college was like that for me.

I have always had an interest in stories, whether it be Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Revised), old Celtic tales, or the stories of peoples’ lives. Words have meanings and they weave the stories of our lives. Often stories have been heard from the perspectives of Kings and Queens but I like the stories of the ordinary man and woman. I have spent many years listening to other peoples’ stories, whether it be around a camp-fire, in a writer’s group, women’s group, or support group. My background is in community work and was centred on rehabilitative pedagogy. My last position was with Inishowen Women’s Outreach, an intimate spousal violence agency in Co. Donegal. I heard many stories, often dark and thorny, but some that danced with hope. However, I have parked that in a meadow, it is the distant past and I am now strolling towards different pastures. However, my rucksack is packed with stories. After my time in Carndonagh I went to NUI Maynooth, where I took a masters in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism. I have found memories there. In the hidden nooks and crannies of people’s lives we find creativity, and behind each face there’s a hidden inner landscape, and truth lies buried beneath the surface. I would like to use digital technologies to explore oral narrative. I am unsure if I want to focus on a particular group yet. One idea is to focus on the Wild Women of Cork. My path still has some boulders to overcome and that is mainly the tech stuff. My interest is knowledge which would not be considered academic because it would be tagged unfairly as mythic-rational.  I am looking forward to exploring it and looking forward to seeing what, if anything I discover.

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Narrative Though Digital:

I have always been interested in collections; collections can be anything from photographs to diaries. Each collection tells a story – an untold true story or simply an interesting life story. I am big into autobiography particularly those who lived before my time. I enjoy looking at personal artistic journals as well because often they tell more about the person than they actually tell us themselves.

In the next few months, I will be studying how people created a narrative story and how it can apply in my own research on Nancy McCarthy’s Collection, which I am hoping to develop. I will be observing the ways people conserved the artifacts and how this was done prior to the digital period and up until now.

Studying stories will be a tricky one as “stories” are so broad and I am interested in gathering “real” sources and plan to create a narrative by using these digital artifacts and showing the collection online. I hope to go on and do research about the personal lifestyle e.g. socialite, traveler, chemist etc and try to understand her life journey if possible but my main interest is in the use of the “primary” source and in transforming them into a story.

On reflecting on this collection I am transported into a ‘magic circle’ as if I were transferred back to Nancy McCarthy’s time and it becomes present to me. I am hoping to create the same feeling though the digital experience. Digitisation is really important today due to the nature of the artifacts. These stories needed to be shared so this collection will be re-recorded forever and I hope people will continue to feel the same way as I do.

Caroline Bowen.