Research Profile

Tomas Mac Conmara

Biography

Tomás Mac Conmara is an award winning oral historian from County Clare.  In 2016, he was commended by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, as one of seven recipients who have made outstanding contributions to culture over the last 100 years for a Comhaltas Forógra na Cásca Centenary Award.  He began documenting oral tradition and folklore in the townland of Ballymalone in east Clare as a teenager and is now recognised as one of the leading oral historians in the country.  From 2008 to 2014, he led the foundation and development of Cuimhneamh an Chláir (Memories of Clare) and was also a founding member of the Oral History Network of Ireland.  He is also a former County Heritage Officer and in January 2016 was appointed by UCC as Manager of the Cork Folklore Project.  

Tomás has published four books including; ‘High Prestige', The Story of Clare's All Ireland Hurling Champions of 1914 and Patrick Brennan's Autograph Book, Frongoch Internment Camp, 1916.  In September 2017, he published Days of HungerThe Clare Volunteers and the Mountjoy Hunger Strike of 1917.  In 2018, he was commissioned by the HSE to publish The Ministry of Healing, St. Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital, Cork, An Oral and Historical Record.   In 2019, he will publish The Time of the Tans, based on his over 400 personal recordings with elderly people, focused on the Irish War of Independence and Black and Tans.  
 

Tomás is a regular contributor on cultural and historic issues on national television and radio, as well as local broadcast and print media in both Irish and English and has appeared on Guth an Phobal (2012), Ar Fud na Tíre (2013), Spillane ar Fánaí (2014), Triod an Lionsa (2015), Today Show with Máura and Daithí (2016).  In 2018, he featured as a contributor to the RTE series Who Do You Think You Are? where he worked with former American Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, to reveal the role of her great-grandfather in the Irish War of Independence. 
Since he was a teenager, he has been documenting social memory associated with the Irish revolutionary period.  He has published articles on various aspects of folklore and oral tradition and lectured both nationally and internationally on aspects of Irish history, culture and folklore. He has lectured for many years at the Milwaukee Irish Festival and has been a Fellow at the University of Massachusetts in 2016 and 2017, where he worked on oral history research and lectured on Irish history.   

As a heritage consultant, Tomás has led the development of national oral history programmes with the Irish Defence Forces and Waterways Ireland.  His clients also include the Health Service Executive, Dublin Port, Kilkenny County Council, Cork County Council, Udarás na Gaeltachta and Fingal County Council.  
    

Research Interests

Research Interests include:

  • Oral history and inherited tradition 
  • Folklore
  • Social Memory of the Irish revolutionary period (1916-1923)
  • Modern Irish history
  • Community Engagement 
  • Material Culture
  • Mnemonics
  • Traditions, customs and folk belief
  • Placenames and fieldnames
My research has focused on the use of collected social memory, oral history and oral tradition in exploring the Irish Revolutionary Period.  I have advocated for many years for the inclusion of oral sources to bring about a deeper and more rounded understanding of the period and have personally recorded over 400 interviews relating to Irish War of Independence and Civil War.  My Doctoral Research at University of Limerick enabled a detailed examination of the entire landscape of memory associated with the revolutionary period and led to the creation of a new methodological framework for the use of memory in exploring the Irish War of Independence.  

In 2016 and 2017, I was a Research Fellow at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell where I lectured on the Irish Revolutionary Period as well as the application of oral history in a range of social and cultural contexts.  

My role in the broader documentation of memory has led to an involvement in several radio documentaries including A Bullet for the General (exploring an IRA plan to assassinate Hugh Tudor in Canada) and Paddy Brennan’s Book, (exploring an autograph book from Frongoch Camp in Wales).  In 2016, I was the script writer for Against the Gale, five radio documentaries, exploring aspects of the Easter Rising experience in Clare. 
  I was also a contributor to Trid an Lionsa, an RTE television production which explored evictions in the late nineteenth century.  In 2018, I will be appear as an expert contributor to the television series Who Do You Think You Are?

My work in oral heritage for almost twenty years has enabled the application of oral history as a method across a range of subject areas, including the experience of women in the past, agricultural change, the relationship between rural people and material culture of the past, as well as insights into community dynamics in early to mid-twentieth century Ireland. 
  As Manager of the Cork Folklore Project, I have led a multidimensional collection programme, which has explored dimensions of everyday life in Cork in both the past and present including stone masonry, amateur drama, community, St. Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital, life stories and place based collection.  In addition, I was successful in obtaining a research award from University of Massachusetts, to undertake Landscapes of Memory, an international oral history collaboration exploring the River Lee and Merrimack River through the use of oral history interviews.    By developing the Cork Folklore Project Outreach Hub, I have led the Project into a new phase, which will see our material more accessible to the general public in both passive and active ways.  

Research Grants

 ProjectFunding
Body
Start DateEnd DateAward
Landscapes of Memory06-JAN-1706-JUN-18€5,000.00

Publications

Books

 YearPublication
(2019)The Time of the Tans, An Oral History of the War of Independence in County Clare.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2019) The Time of the Tans, An Oral History of the War of Independence in County Clare. Cork: Mercier Press. [Details]
(2018)The Ministry of Healing, St. Mary's Orthopaedic Hospital Cork, An Oral and Historical Record.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2018) The Ministry of Healing, St. Mary's Orthopaedic Hospital Cork, An Oral and Historical Record. Cork: Health Service Executive. [Details]
(2017)Days of Hunger, The Clare Volunteers and the Mountjoy Hunger Strike of 1917.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2017) Days of Hunger, The Clare Volunteers and the Mountjoy Hunger Strike of 1917. Killaloe: Dallán Publishing. [Details]
(2016)Patrick Brennan's Autograph Book, An Irish Rebel Autograph Book from Frongoch Internment Camp, 1916.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2016) Patrick Brennan's Autograph Book, An Irish Rebel Autograph Book from Frongoch Internment Camp, 1916. Clare: Clare County Library. [Details]
(2014)High Prestige, The Story of Clare's All Ireland Hurling Champions of 1914.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2014) High Prestige, The Story of Clare's All Ireland Hurling Champions of 1914. Clare: Clare County Library. [Details]
(2008)People, Place, Boats, Traditional Boats of County Clare.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2008) People, Place, Boats, Traditional Boats of County Clare. Clare: Clare County Council. [Details]

Other Journals

 YearPublication
(2018)'Tomás Mac Curtain in Memory'
Tomás Mac Conmara (2018) 'Tomás Mac Curtain in Memory' The Archive: Journal of The Northside Folklore Project, 21 :16-20. [Details]
(2018)'A Reflection on the Irish Language in the Cork Folklore Project Collection'
Tomás Mac Conmara (2018) 'A Reflection on the Irish Language in the Cork Folklore Project Collection' The Archive: Journal of The Northside Folklore Project, 21 :5-5. [Details]
(2013)''Those Four Claremen have taken on the British Empire' The Irish Volunteers and the Transformation of Ireland in 1917'
Tomás Mac Conmara (2013) ''Those Four Claremen have taken on the British Empire' The Irish Volunteers and the Transformation of Ireland in 1917' The Other Clare, 36 :27-32. [Details]

Articles

 YearPublication
(2017)'Soldier's Death or Felon's Doom'.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2017) 'Soldier's Death or Felon's Doom'. Clare: Articles [Details]
(2016)'An intense longing for Irish Freedom'.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2016) 'An intense longing for Irish Freedom'. Clare: Articles [Details]
(2011)‘“That’s the way it was” - Reminiscence at Raheen Day Care Centre, Tuamgraney’.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2011) ‘“That’s the way it was” - Reminiscence at Raheen Day Care Centre, Tuamgraney’. Clare: Articles [Details]
(2011)“When an old man dies, a library burns”, The work of Cuimhneamh an Chlair, the Clare Oral History and Folklore Group.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2011) “When an old man dies, a library burns”, The work of Cuimhneamh an Chlair, the Clare Oral History and Folklore Group. Clare: Articles [Details]
(2011)A reflection on the reminiscence oral history work undertaken over a number of months at Raheen Day Care Centre, Tuamgraney.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2011) A reflection on the reminiscence oral history work undertaken over a number of months at Raheen Day Care Centre, Tuamgraney. Clare: Articles [Details]
(2006)“Tip and Slashin”, Clare’s Hurling Victories of 1914”.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2006) “Tip and Slashin”, Clare’s Hurling Victories of 1914”. Dublin: Articles [Details]
(2005)‘RT Moloney, Seventy-Five years of local politics’.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2005) ‘RT Moloney, Seventy-Five years of local politics’. Clare: Articles [Details]
(2004)The Parish of Tuamgraney, History and Folklore.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2004) The Parish of Tuamgraney, History and Folklore. Dublin: Articles [Details]
(2004)The Tradition of Pipe Smoking.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2004) The Tradition of Pipe Smoking. Clare: Articles [Details]
(2003)Ireland'sWild Geese and the Battle of Fontenoy.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2003) Ireland'sWild Geese and the Battle of Fontenoy. Clare: Articles [Details]
(2003)The Colt Connection: Firearms manufacturer Sam Colt and County Clare.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2003) The Colt Connection: Firearms manufacturer Sam Colt and County Clare. Clare: Articles [Details]
(2003)The Boxer Rebellion in China: Clare Connections.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2003) The Boxer Rebellion in China: Clare Connections. Clare: Articles [Details]
(2003)Coining Things, The Discovery of Gunmoney in Drumquin in 1982.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2003) Coining Things, The Discovery of Gunmoney in Drumquin in 1982. Clare: Articles [Details]
(2002)“The Terry Alts: Agrarian Agitation in North Clare 1829-1832”.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2002) “The Terry Alts: Agrarian Agitation in North Clare 1829-1832”. Clare: Articles [Details]

Documentary

 YearPublication
(2016)Against the Gale.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2016) Against the Gale. Clare: Documentary [Details]

DVD

 YearPublication
(2016)The Easter Rising in County Clare.
Tomás Mac Conmara (2016) The Easter Rising in County Clare. Clare: DVD [Details]

Professional Activities

Honours and Awards

 YearTitleAwarding Body
2017University of Massachusetts Presidents Award University of Massachusetts
2016Comhaltas Forógra na Cásca Centenary Award Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann
2016Research Fellow University of Massachusetts

Professional Associations

 AssociationFunctionFrom / To
Oral History Network of Ireland Founding Member07-JUL-09 / 29-AUG-12

Conference Contributions

 YearPublication
(2018)International Oral History Association Conference, Memory and Narration,
Tomás Mac Conmara (2018) A presentation on the value of oral sources on the Irish War of Independence including an emphasis on the importance of registering silence. [Oral Presentation], International Oral History Association Conference, Memory and Narration, Finland , 18-JUN-18 - 21-JUN-18. [Details]
(2017)Centre for Irish Partnerships Seminar Series,
Tomás Mac Conmara (2017) Lecture on the Mountjoy Hunger Strike of 1917. [Invited Seminars/Guest Lectures], Centre for Irish Partnerships Seminar Series, UMass Club, Boston, USA , 25-SEP-17 - 25-SEP-17. [Details]
(2016)International Women's Day Conference at University of Limerick,
Tomás Mac Conmara (2016) A conference focused on the experience of women in Irish society, past and present. [Invited Lectures (Conference)], International Women's Day Conference at University of Limerick, University of Limerick , 08-MAR-16 - 08-MAR-16. [Details]
(2016)Remembering 1916: The Easter Rising, The Battle of the Somme and Impact on Lowell—A Public Engagement Conference,
Tomás Mac Conmara (2016) A Public Engagement Conference focusing on both the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Battle of the Somme, which happened in the same year. [Invited Lectures (Conference)], Remembering 1916: The Easter Rising, The Battle of the Somme and Impact on Lowell—A Public Engagement Conference, University of Massachusetts, USA , 07-SEP-16 - 08-SEP-16. [Details]
(2014)Cumann na mBan 100 Conference: 1914 – 2014,
Tomás Mac Conmara (2014) Conference exploring the role of Cumann na mBan in the Irish revolutionary period. [Invited Lectures (Conference)], Cumann na mBan 100 Conference: 1914 – 2014, Collins Barracks, Dublin , 16-APR-14 - 16-APR-14. [Details]
(2014)National Tourism Conference, Ennistymon,
Tomás Mac Conmara (2014) The Army of Ború Marches again!, Folklore, Tourism and the High King’. [Invited Lectures (Conference)], National Tourism Conference, Ennistymon, Ennistymon, County clare , 14-FEB-14 - 16-FEB-14. [Details]
(2013)Biennial Irish Conference of Historians,
Tomás Mac Conmara (2013) A major confernence presenting the work of a range of historians from across Ireland. [Oral Presentation], Biennial Irish Conference of Historians, UCD , 13-JUN-13 - 13-JUN-13. [Details]
(2012)Voicing the Past: Oral History and Heritage in Ireland,
Tomás Mac Conmara (2012) Lecture on the Social Memory of the Irish Revolutionary Period. [Invited Lectures (Conference)], Voicing the Past: Oral History and Heritage in Ireland, Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis, County Clare , 28-SEP-12 - 30-SEP-12. [Details]
(2009)Kerry International Folklore Conference,
Tomás Mac Conmara (2009) A conference exploring the collection of folklore within a community context. [Invited Oral Presentation], Kerry International Folklore Conference, Mucross House, Kerry , 19-NOV-09 - 19-NOV-09. [Details]
(2009)Milwaukee Irish Festival,
Tomás Mac Conmara (2009) Hedgeschool Lecture Series at Cultural Pavillion, Milwaukee Irish Festival. [Invited Lectures (Conference)], Milwaukee Irish Festival, Milwaukee, USA , 14-AUG-09 - 16-AUG-09. [Details]
(2007)Milwaukee Irish Festival,
Tomás Mac Conmara (2007) Irish Cultural Festival and Lecture Series. [Invited Oral Presentation], Milwaukee Irish Festival, Milwaukee, USA , 17-AUG-07 - 19-AUG-07. [Details]

Committees

 CommitteeFunctionFrom / To
Cuimhneamh an Chláire (Memories of Clare) Founder and Project Co-ordinator2008 / 2014
Clare Tourist Council Committee Member and Chairperson2008 / 2013
Oral History Network of Ireland Founding Member2008 / 2014
East Clare Heritage Committee Member and Chairperson2001 / 2009

Employment

 EmployerPositionFrom / To
Clare County Council Heritage Officer13-SEP-06 / 16-JUL-09
University College Cork Manager, Cork Folklore Project12-JAN-16 / 27-JUL-18
Cuimhneamh an Chláir (Memories of Clare) Project Co-Ordinator05-AUG-09 / 11-JUL-12
Clare County Council Exhibition Curation16-AUG-12 / 18-DEC-15

Education

 YearInstitutionQualificationSubject
2015University of Limerick PhDHistory
2010National University of Ireland Galway Higher Diploma in EducationHistory, Civic Social and Political Education
2008University of Limerick Bachelor of ArtsHistory

Languages

 LanguageReadingWritingSpeaking
Spanish BasicBasicFunctional
Gaeilge FluentFluentFluent

Outreach Activities

 Description

An illustrated presentation on the material held in the Cork Folklore Project collection, underlining the opportunities for artistic engagement - Presented to the Crawford College of Art and Design in Cork

A series of five illustrated public lectures given across County Clare in the lead up to the Easter Rising Centenary celebrations of 2016

Presentation of oral history process to a group of women from the Churchfield area of Cork to illuminate the aspects involved in the document or oral history and local memory.

Multimedia presentation of selected material from the Cork Folklore Project over twenty years to a crowd of over 170 local people from across Cork.

For Cuimhneamh an Chláir - A series of public listening sessions undertaken from 2008 - 2010 across county Clare in various community centres, libraries and public facilities.

Collaboration with Clare FM to produce eight in-depth radio interviews, focused on the work of eight collectors from within the Cuimhneamh an Chláir Project (2012)

Co-Presenter on a weekly radio show (Clare FM) aimed at the promotion of Irish language and culture in 2007.

Contributor on a weekly placenames and fieldnames focused radio segment, which explored the collected placenames from within the Clare Placenames Project (2008-2009)

Co-ordination of a major Traditional Boats conference in 2008, focused on the building traditions, typologies and folklore of traditional boats, currachs and Naomhógs.

Scriptwriter for a series of radio essays, broadcast in April 2016 as part of the centenary celebrations of the Easter Rising of 1916

A series of transcribed memory samples from within the Cork Folklore Project, published weekly in the Cork Evening Echo (2018)

Collaboration with Clare FM in a unique poetry project. The project, which received funding from Oifig Gaeilge an Chláir, involved Cuimhneamh an Chláir, working with pupils from 6th class in Gaelscoil Mhichíl Cíósóg. The pupils were asked to compose poems on characters of their choosing relating to Clare folklore and history.

Innovative folded business cards with old Irish words that were documented from older people across county Clare.

Co-ordinated the recording of the memories of Clare natives living in Dublin are to be documented in ‘A Part of What Was Dublin’, Trained and equipped three Dublin based Clare natives, who recorded memories of Clare men and women who migrated to Dublin over the twentieth century.

Collaboration between the Clare Education Centre and Cuimhneamh an Chláir to develop Seo é mo Scéal as part of respective outreach and education programmes. Seo é mo scéal was a Region 5 project, proposed by Athlone Education Centre that involves recording the memories, from primary school to retirement, of a group of older citizens in the wider communities of the region.

A public engagement event aimed at demonstrated the collected material from the 'Memories of the Orthopaedic' Project, an oral history collaboration undertaken by the Cork Folklore Project and the HSE and focused on St. Mary's Orthopaedic Hospital

Journal Activities

 JournalRoleTo / From
The Archive: Journal Of The Northside Folklore Project Editor12-JAN-16 - 21-JUN-18

Other Activities

 Description

In the lead up to the 2016 Centenary Celebrations, I was invited by Clare County Council to act as a special adviser to the Council's Committee on Commemoration.  This has been extended to cover the period from 2016 - 2023 

Contact details

Search profiles by name

Search profiles by topic

Department of Folklore and Ethnology

Béaloideas agus Eitneolaíocht

5 Elderwood,College Rd Cork,Ireland

Top