Our future is in our past

‘OUR FUTURE IS IN OUR PAST, a beautiful project funded by Creative Ireland Waterford that brought a Community together. The Clonea Power Old School CLG with the help of two local artists Marguerite Kent and John Bermingham, engaged with and captured some of the personalities of the older members of the community of Clonea Power, Rathgormack and Mothel.

Johnny Hassett having the chats

The chosen venue for filming was the recently renovated Old School in Clonea County Waterford. This venue turned out to be very important to the people involved as it brought back memories of their school days, their experience of school and travelling to school. It reminded them about of students who have passed away, teachers who were kind and some experiences that weren’t so nice. Their chats and friendships and the delight in meeting up again all took on a life of its own.

Pat, Johny, Michael and Jeffy at Clonea School

The idea for the project was to talk to some of the elderly people of the area and record in video and photography their stories and dreams so that they could have their stories immortalised in sound and vision. The original idea was to get people together who had not seen each other in nearly 2 years and have them chat informally and listen and take note of their stories as part of our social history and also a snapshot of our personal living history.

Johnny calling out all his classmates from a photo nearly 70 years old

The Clonea Power Old School CLG group identified artist Marguerite Kent and videographer John Bermingham who had worked together before as the best fit for this project as it would take patience and professionalism which they both had in abundance. The group had recently renovated the Old School in Clonea and hired this venue as the meeting place for our chats and for filming.

Between 15 and 20 between the ages of 70 and 87 people took part in the project and were delighted to chat and meet up with a cuppa, outdoors, Covid compliant and it was like watching a dam bursting with stories and loud talking and so happy to meet up.

John, Dinny, PJ and Michael pictured at Clonea Old School

Rose Fogarty from the Clonea Power Old School CLG said that the project ‘was a wonderful success and could be developed further into an annual meet and greet and encourage more people to join in as the families were so excited about their Dads/Grandads or Grannys being in the spotlight and made them feel so special and valued. We would love to develop that idea, all in the hope of combating rural isolation and boosting the confidence of our elderly who still have so much to say and to give and that we can learn from.’ 

The participants absolutely loved it and actually enjoyed being together, having a cuppa and chatting. One man Johnny whom I had collected by car was disappointed to be going home and was asking ‘when are you doing this again’. Another told us ‘we may have lost our hair but we have never lost our skills’

Watch the full documentary video here and enjoy listening to their memories and stories.

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