The Northside Folklore Project was founded as a non-profit community research archive in partnership with the Department of Folklore and Ethnology at University College Cork, Northside Community Enterprises and FÁS. Serving as a community employment scheme, more than eighty people have worked on the project, acquiring training in computers, oral history interviewing, research, photography, video and sound recording, desktop publishing, archival methods and more.
Since beginnings in August 1996, the Project has been at work collecting folklore and oral histories, preserving a record of the rich traditions of Cork City’s Northside communities. Projects have covered a wide array of topics including: bingo; hurling; road bowling; showbands; drag hunting; Roy Keane; children’s games and rhymes; toys and fashions; textile production; religious processions and feast days; boat building; Travelling families; Rory Gallagher and more, documenting the everyday lives of the local people. The archive contains hundreds of hours of sound and video recordings and over 10,000 photographs, available to community groups, schools and individual researchers.
Accomplishments include: thirteen issues of the highly regarded free journal, The Archive; publication of the book, Life Journeys, well received and entirely sold out; an award-winning video, A Night at Bingo; an attractive portable exhibition, produced with Heritage Council assistance, which has been displayed in the Cork Vision Centre, schools and libraries throughout Cork. The Project participated in Cork 2005, European Capital of Culture, with an ambitious oral history project and a series of six half-hour radio programmes, entitled ‘How’s it goin’, boy?’ The book of the same name was published by Dublin publishers Nonsuch at the end of 2006.
The Northside Folklore Project was originally introduced as a pilot scheme, but is now being recommended by the Heritage Council as a model for other initiatives. The Project has served as consultants and a support network for other groups in the process of establishing similar projects. It has hosted seminars, participated in numerous conferences, presented public lectures and workshops. The Project continues to develop links with overseas educational institutions, along with their connections to diverse community and cultural groups in Ireland.