Kilkenny Oral History Project


Kilkenny Oral History Project


The Kilkenny Community Oral History Project set out to explore the origins, boundaries, placenames and the characteristics of four communities within Kilkenny City. Each of the areas, The Butts, The Continent, The Village and The Riochs, has a local identity and geographic footprint familiar to older people but not fully explored and recorded.


Using a community education model the project with support from the local VEC and LEADER partnership set out to explore the social history of the four areas engaging with local people on a twelve week collaborative oral history project.


Participants came together weekly and working with a facilitator shared their knowledge, detailing the extents and boundaries of each area, in addition to sharing recollections of life in the community through the years.


The process saw local people actively engage in an exploration of their community, using personal recollections and stories to create an oral record of their place within the city's heritage.


Derek O' Halloran/Facilitator Bio

Derek O' Halloran is an award winning radio producer and community media facilitator who specialises in working with marginalised youth and community groups on a broad range of projects. Derek's work has featured on RTE Radio 1 and Newstalk Radio in addition to a range of local and community broadcast outlets. Projects he has led include a six part TV series made in collaboration with a group of Dublin young people in addition to multiple radio documentary projects produced in collaboration with young people.

Most recently Derek has focussed his work on grass roots oral history production and has just coordinated/facilitated a project across four community groups in Kilkenny city. The project, a community education initiative, was undertaken in partnership with County Kilkenny LEADER partnership and County Kilkenny VEC. An earlier oral history project timed to celebrate the European Year of The Volunteer focussed on the impact of volunteerism at a Family Resource Centre in County Kildare. Derek can be contacted at


Listen to some interesting clips from communities in Kilkenny by clicking on a story below

VILLAGE TB – Carmel McKee recalls her determination to make it home to Kilkenny for Christmas after she'd been sent to a convalescent home along with her sister and brothers due to her fathers TB.

BUTTS TRAVELLING COMMUNITY – Pat McAuley and Andy Tynan recall the annual arrival of members of the Traveler community who would camp at the Waterbarrack in the Butts area of Kilkenny for a few weeks each spring.

VILLAGE SHOP MEMORIES – Village locals Carmel McKee, Sadie McGrath and Mary Byrne recall the excitement of a childhood visit to Hurley's shop on Patrick Street.

RIOCHS LIGHTHOUSE – Standing at the Lighthouse cross Billy Brett and Willie Kavanagh recall the importance of the location as a local landmark while Kitty Ryan remembers the singing sessions she's hear through her open bedroom window as a child.

RIOCHS HORSE TRAINING – Project participants Billy Brett and Willie Kavanagh recall horse training on the Fairgreen while Paddy Neary remembers one jockeys unusual means of keeping his weight down.

CONTINENT BREWERY MEMORIES – Continent man Pat Shortis recalls the shorthand locals used, with sometimes unforseen consequences, when sending word to England that the Smithwicks brewery needed more workers during the busy summer season.


BUTTS BASKETBALL – Seamus Ryan recalls the final moments of a basketball final at the Waterbarrack in the Butts area of Kilkenny when play stalled unexpectedly.


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