Oral History Project, Waterford City & County, Ireland.

About Diverse Waterford

Diverse Waterford is a theme used to describe the influence of diverse cultures and nationalities on Waterford City and County.  Waterford (Vedrarfjord in Norse) was established as a base by the Vikings and its location with easy access to the sea and to the river network that could connect it inward to the surrounding countryside made it an ideal location. This location, has, throughout its history, facilitated the introduction and intermingling of visitors to these shores with the local population. Waterford is a port City and long after its establishment as a Viking longphort it continued to develop as an important port and point of arrival and departure through the provision of royal charters.

Waterford Glass, the Waterford Blaa and many of the things that are celebrated as Waterford are the products of its diversity. The Waterford blaa is associated with the Hugenot settlers to Waterford in the 17th century; Waterford Crystal was first established in 1783 by the Penrose brothers from England and the revival of Waterford Crystal owes much to Miroslav Havel, a Czech immigrant to Waterford in the 1940s and his countrymen who came to work and settle in Waterford.  Many of the merchant houses of Waterford owe their establishment to the success of their owners in the fish trade of Newfoundland in Canada.

The Penrose, Malcolmson and Whyte shipbuilders and traders travelled throughout the world establishing trade links and returning to Waterford with wine, tea, coffee and spices and exporting wool, butter and grain from the lands surrounding Waterford. This trade brought new settlers to Waterford and brought Waterford people to settle throughout the world establishing new connections. These connections are the foundations upon which Waterford is built.

Ships also departed and arrived to Waterford from Passage; Dunmore and Dungarvan. The people of Waterford fished from harbours along the coastline. Emigration from Waterford brought people from all across the county by train to depart this island and from new connections and set down roots in new lands. From east to west and north to south in Waterford the Waterford voice has different influences and has experienced different events that create a wealth of great stories to be shared.

Waterford Libraries Local Studies and Waterford City and County Archives Service are working together on Diverse Waterford to help Waterford people to record their stories and share them. To do this the project employed Dr. Tomás MacConmara to work with us to create a set of guidelines and forms for use by Community Groups and individuals to help them set up an Oral history project that will be preserved long term and shared with as broad an audience as possible.

As part of the project we provide training online and in person on carrying out oral history projects and we also facilitate recording projects by providing equipment on loan to groups and individuals.

With the assistance of Tomás MacConmara recordings have also been made of people across Waterford to get started in building up our resource of Waterford Voices.

Our goal, however, is to facilitate, groups and individuals in carrying out projects and to help share their recordings. Recordings will be made available in a way that makes clear the group/project that gathered the recordings and will share their story and their goal in creating and sharing their recordings.