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Community Based Learners Share their Stories
23/06/2011 00:00:00

Tutor Sheila Quealey worked with St. Munchins Women’s Group to write about the happy, sad and funny happenings in their lives. ‘It’s not as simple as reaching for a pen and paper’ as Sheila explains here…

I met the St. Munchins Women’s Group in January.  My task was to help and guide the recording of the group’s histories in some way. Writing or telling your own story is not as simple as reaching for a pen and paper.  Decisions have to be made very early on about what story do you want to tell? What story don’t you want to tell? Whose business is it anyway?
The women’s group Young at Heart, as they call themselves, had never met me before I walked into that room on that January morning. I was a stranger. Why would they tell me their stories? And how could I persuade them that their stories were valuable and more importantly interesting?
And so the conversation began. These women, all 10 of them can talk. They talk one at a time and they talk all at the same time. Their stories crisscross reaching back into childhood then ricocheting into the present at speed. If you want to be a part of it you have to listen, and listen carefully. They share a past, most of them; all of them share a city, a county and a country. They also all share a resounding pride to be born and bred in Limerick city. Reminiscing is fun; it is also sad and sometimes lonely. These women support each other. The project evolved. In the end it was decided that instead of presenting their stories in book form we would display them on banners. The banners will be displayed in public areas around the city so that people passing can stop and read them and share the memories – the good and the bad. From July 1st the Young at Heart Women’s Group stories will be on display at Watch House Cross Library. In September the stories will be on the move again and will be displayed at the Adult Education Centre (MTI Building/Red Tech) on O’Connell Ave before they finally come home to St. Munchin’s FRC .

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