University of Limerick Institutional Repository

University of Limerick Oral History Project

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University of Limerick Oral History Project

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The University of Limerick Oral History Project (ULOHP) was initiated in September 2008 by the office of the Vice President Academic & Registrar, Professor Paul McCutcheon, in preparation for the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the foundation of the NIHE in 2012. Aiming to create a digital archive which records the personal contribution and memories of those who were part of the foundation and development of the NIHE and from 1989, the University of Limerick, the Project was overseen by a steering committee consisting of Professor McCutcheon, Professor Bernadette Whelan, Department of History, UL and Seamus Dolan. The work of Project Officer, Dr. Catherine O’ Connor includes the identification and contact of interviewees, questionnaire design, the conduct and transcription of recorded interviews and the digitisation of material to archival standard.

To date, 35 interviews have been recorded with founding academics and administrative staff, as well as local and national public figures. Interviewees revisit memories of their contribution and personal milestones in the history of UL. These personal narratives present a rich portrait of the place and people that make up the University of Limerick. Their narratives are of necessity subjective accounts. Oral histories help us to understand ’not just what people did but what they wanted to do, what they believed they were doing, and what they now think they did.’ They record a personal interpretation of events and while factual inconsistencies may occur they provide a valuable contribution to the creation of the historical record. These important oral histories will be available for consultation to present and future students of the University as well as the wider community.

Project Methodology

Interviewees are invited to discuss their personal contribution and memories of UL in a semi-structured interview format. In accordance with best practice oral history ethical standards, each interviewee is afforded the opportunity to fully review and if necessary, amend the interview transcript before it is deposited to the ULOHP Archive at the Digital Library, UL. The unamended interview audio recording is deposited to a separate Project archive in Special Collections at the Library under a moratorium of twenty years. Both deposits require the full signed consent of participants. Each interviewee is invited to add a personal biography to the collection.

The Project is an ongoing one. Some of the themes that have been addressed in the Project interviews to date include:

  • The demand for a University in Limerick prior to 1970.
  • The appointment of the Director and Planning Board, 1970.
  • Opening of the NIHE, 1972.
  • Appointment of the first Governing Body, 1975.
  • First Graduations, 1977.
  • Institutional development.
  • Curriculum/educational mission.
  • Physical development.
  • Cultural and sporting activity.
  • University status 1989 and subsequent amalgamation with Thomond College of Education.
  • Continued expansion and development.

1. Alessandro Portelli, ‘What makes oral history different?’ in R. Perks and A. Thomson (eds.), The Oral History Reader, Third Edition (London, 2016), pp.48-57,p.52.

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