Spinning Yarns In The Community

Following a series of ‘themed evenings’ held in Killeen Community Centre in 2009 and 2010, by Cáirde Killeen's Local History Group, a small booklet was produced. It aims to give a snapshot of what life was like on our rugged stretch of Atlantic coast in days not too long past.

The booklet, reproduced here online, comes to you from Killeen Local History Group, which has grown out of Cáirde Killeen. For those who are new to the area, Cáirde Killeen is a volunteer-run group which was originally established in 1994 to overcome women’s isolation and to empower them through training opportunities, activities and social events. Cáirde Killeen is still running today, and new members, with fresh ideas, are always welcome. Though run by women, the group seeks to include both men and women and to regenerate a sense of community by creating a forum where stories can be gathered and older voices heard.

Life, and how we live it, has changed hugely in recent years. The so-called Celtic Tiger brought new job opportunities for women. Mass communication and the internet revolution reduced the isolation of people living in rural areas such as Killeen. Or did they? There is a new sort of isolation today that started even before the internet, when TV replaced evenings of storytelling or playing cards with neighbours around the fire. And now that the Celtic Tiger has disappeared over the horizon, taking the jobs with it, the need for us to pull together as a community is stronger than ever.

That’s the idea behind the ‘themed evenings’ organised by Cáirde Killeen’s Local History Group. Having successfully applied for funding to equip a computer room in Killeen Community Centre and then to run a local history course using these facilities, it was decided it was time to involve all ages and both sexes in a new project.

Six themes were chosen:

• spinning and weaving

• thatching and local people

• music in the area

• farming and fishing

• religious traditions and customs

• education and schools

Buses were organised each evening so that no-one would be prevented from attending because of distance or lack of transport. Tea and delicious home-made cakes were provided on the night. The hall was decorated to resemble an old house, with a mock fireplace, turf creels, pictures and a rocking chair. A large and enthusiastic crowd turned out each evening, with lots of young children who listened open-mouthed as the older people presented memory after memory about the old ways.

The booklet contains only a brief overview of those nights held in the ‘tech’. We hope that there will be many more such evenings to come and that the interest in the history and traditions of our beautiful area will be kept alive and passed down to the younger generations.