‘Mines of Information’ was originated and delivered by artist Katy Goodhue and film maker David Quin in 2008. The project received Percent For Art funding from South Tipperary County Council. The primary aim of Mines of Information was to provide a framework for the entire Ballingarry Parish community to rediscover or learn about the local social and mining past.
The core participants in the 'Mines of Information' project were the 216 primary school children from the four national schools of Ballingarry Parish - St. Joseph’s N.S. Ballingarry, Mohobar N.S., Lios-na-mBroc N.S. and Slieveardagh N.S.The Commons. The children learned to use current video technology and experienced high-quality visual art classroom based sessions.
Katy Goodhue works with schools and groups originating and delivering unique visual art projects. She moved to the area in the mid 1990’s not knowing it had been a coal mining region. Through the Mines of Information project along with the children in the schools she began to learn about the mining heritage and this interest continues. She developed a blog for Heritage Week 2021 including videos she made about the mine sites with ex-miner Michael ‘King’ Cleere. The blog project received the National Heritage Week 2021 Tipperary County Award.
The project’s video component was co-ordinated by David Quin. He visited each school and trained the pupils from the senior and middle rooms on the operation of small mini-dv video cameras. As part of these workshops, the pupils interviewed each other on video so they experienced what it was like to set up and make an interview and especially what it is like to be interviewed. The pupils were all very enthusiastic and treated the cameras and the interviewees in a very mature way.
Next it was up to each pupil to persuade an adult to be interviewed., Grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents and neighbours generously gave their time and answered lots of questions in front of the camera. When the project was planned it was not appreciated how much interesting historic information would be recorded, which in turn was used back in the classrooms. When an interview was recorded the camera tape and other equipment was returned to the school. Almost 50 people were interviewed for the project and almost ten hours of video interview material was gathered.
The tapes were then viewed by David, who edited and archived the information gathered. The DVDs of the first-hand video accounts formed the resource that started the school children on their exploration of the past through visual art.
Good quality art materials were used throughout the project. The most eagerly anticipated part of each class was the video of the children’s own relatives and neighbours talking about the past, this was living history. Every child knew someone in the videos, some lots of the interviewees. They told of everyday life, transport, school, work and farming, as well as detailed accounts relating to the Slieveardagh area’s unique coal-mining heritage. Most of the pupils had not realised that life was so different in the recent past and many knew nothing of the mines and how they affected the greater community; they were especially interested in the miner’s stories. The class groups, their teachers and Katy discussed each video after it was shown and then the class made pictures, prints and 3D work in response to the stories and memories.
The children’s’ finished artwork and some of the video was brought together in an exhibition in Ballingarry Community Hall at the start of June 2008. Minister Mary Hannafin visited Balllingarry Hall and launched the Mines of Information Exhibition. Over a thousand people visited the exhibition in Ballingarry. Visitors to the hall shared more stories and yet more fascinating local information.
The County Museum, Clonmel was hosting an exhibition on prehistoric flint mining that had travelled from Poland and the Mines of Information project was invited to be exhibited alongside it. So many children had participated on the project that it was possible to put together a second exhibition of work which was in the museum from the end of May through to July 2008. The project received great feed back from the County Museum. The project was covered by Mick Coffey on Tipp FM and RTE’s Nationwide recorded an article on the project in the Museum as part of a special Slieveardagh programme broadcast in February 2009. The exhibition was also shown at Tipperary Institute, Thurles, and The Heritage Centre, Nenagh.
A final note in the article in the Ballingarry Parish Journal in 2008 showed the scale and inclusivity of the project
Congratulations to everyone who was part of the project- the schools staff especially those amongst you who took responsibility for the camera equipment. The interviewees, we realise most of you did it because you would do anything for your young relatives and friends- you did more than that – you provided the themes and shared information about the living past that possibly would otherwise have been forgotten. Everyone who helped with all the various requirements of mounting not one but two exhibitions- you were there when we needed extra help. Thank you to all the families and friends who came to the exhibitions and supported the most hard working participants – the primary school children of this parish.
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