Thursday 31 July 2008

Griffith’s Valuation for whole of Ireland now available on AskAboutIreland

A free and fully searchable version of Griffith’s Valuation for the whole of Ireland is now available online at the public libraries’ website Griffith’s Valuation was the first systematic valuation of all property holdings and is the most important surviving genealogical source from the mid-nineteenth century. Search by family name or by place-name to find specific information. Each record links to the original page of the Valuation book and the accompanying map marked with the individual land plots.

Parish and surname indexes to the Clare entries have been available on Clare County Library's site for many years, and a list of surnames and surname frequency tables were added more recently.

Clare Placenames Committee

When deciding on names for new developments such as housing estates, streets, etc, and their associated signage, it is of utmost importance that modern placenames reflect the local topography, history, culture or ecology such as ancient fields, roads, people and significant events. And thus Coiste Logainmneacha an Chláir/The Clare Placenames Committee was established in 2002 to give advice on selecting placenames and to monitor new names given to development throughout the county. Amongst its aims are the conception and preservation of names that are easily pronounced and the use of Irish language names is keenly encouraged, where possible.

Before commencing a proposed development, the developer must submit names to Clare County Council and to the Town Councils for consideration by the Placenames Committee, and for its written agreement. Cuirfidh an Coiste Logainmneacha comhairle ar fáil maidir le h-ainmniú forbairtí nua, nuair is gá. Upon researching the area concerned, the most topographically, historically and geographically apt names are then recommended by the Committee for use in respect of such development.

Powerset - natural language search engine

The search engine world has yet another challenger to Google, Yahoo, Cuil etc following the launch of Powerset (in a limited fashion) in May 2008. Powerset at the moment queries only Wikipedia and augments results with data from Freebase. Acquired by Microsoft in July, Powerset "is a search engine that focuses on natural language processing. In other words, Powerset will not search based simply on keywords alone, but will try to understand the search phrase as a whole. The goal of the product is to make searching more natural and intuitive."

According to Powerset's Lorenzo Thione "Powerset is building a new search engine based on understanding human language, and understanding natural language content, both on the document side and on the query side, meaning that we can build a better model of how information is described and represented in documents than keyword search engines can do, and we can also understand the intent of the users better because we analyse any linguistic content that is present in the query... If you can crack that nut of actually understanding human language with algorithms, with computers, then you open up the door to really something that has been part of the 'collective imaginary' for a long time, which is how do people interact with technology in general?"

Are we getting closer to the Semantic Web? Try it out at - but remember it's only querying Wikipedia as of now.

Tuesday 29 July 2008

"Home" - award winning documentary at Ennistymon Courthouse Gallery

At 8pm on WEDNESDAY 30th July, the Courthouse Gallery and Studios, Ennistymon, is showing "HOME”, the multi-award winning documentary by Irish Film Maker and Actor Alan Cook, who will be at the showing. Tickets, 7€, are available in advance at the Courthouse Gallery, Parliament Street, Ennistymon 065 7071630. - cool new search engine?

Another web search engine has emerged to challenge Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. It's called 'Cuil' (pronounced 'cool' and named after Fionn Mac Cumhail) and claims to index vastly more web pages than either of its predecessors. Developed by some ex-Google engineers, including Tom Costello from Ireland, it went online yesterday, Monday 29th July. According to its publicity "Cuil searches more pages on the Web than anyone else—three times as many as Google and ten times as many as Microsoft. Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency. Then we offer you helpful choices and suggestions until you find the page you want and that you know is out there. We believe that analyzing the Web rather than our users is a more useful approach, so we don’t collect data about you and your habits, lest we are tempted to peek. With Cuil, your search history is always private." Check it out for yourself at

Kilkee Civic Trust Summer Lectures at the Sweeney Memorial Public Library, Kilkee

On Wednesday evenings in July and August 2008, Kilkee Civic Trust provides a series of summer talks for adults in the Sweeney Memorial Public Library, Kilkee, on a variety subjects of local and national interest for the seventh year in row. Taking place between 8 and 10pm, they have become a key feature of the season for visitors and local residents alike. Admission is free to all members of the public with a special invitation to Summer visitors in the area.

Lectures that have so far taken place include:
“Kilkee – the Western Brighton: The development of the Seaside Resort in Victorian Ireland” by Dr. Tricia Cusack;
“Ireland’s Traditional Boats” by Chriostoir MacCarthaig;
"A Showcase for the Drama, Poetry and Paintings of Loop Head" and Kilkee Artists' "Arts in Focus" (Part One);
“Is it rational to be good?” presented by Prof. Paul Saalbach.

Come along to the following lectures yet to take place:
A presentation by John Quinn (from RTÉ’s Open Mind) on Wednesday July 30th;
Tomas MacConmara presents “Clare Involvement in the Mountjoy Riots of 1917” on
Wednesday August 6th;
Fr. Michael Casey PP presents “Zimbabwe – A Missionary Reflects on Then and Now” Wednesday August 13th;
"Arts in Focus" (Part Two) on Wednesday August 20th;
“From East to West – Growing, buying and eating local food in Clare” by Hilary Gleeson (Rural Development Officer) on Wednesday August 27th.

Monday 28 July 2008

Children’s Summer Project in deValera Public Library, Ennis

The Children’s Summer Project in de Valera Public Library, Ennis, has become an annual event in the children’s activities calendar. A programme of educational and entertaining events is put together annually by staff at the library and activities traditionally include puppet and magic shows, art and crafts and storytime. Educational visits to local places of interest are also a regular feature. These have included guided tours of Ennis Abbey, Ennis Sculpture Trail, visits to Clare FM and the Clare Champion Office in Barrack Street, Ennis, to name but some. From the 1st to the 11th of July 2008, children from Ennis and surrounding areas were treated to a whole host of events to kick off the long Summer holidays from school.
Mask making and paper sculpture were the featured craft sessions in this year’s programme for older children. Both events were perfectly suited to the age groups attending and the facilitators had lots of ideas and techniques to share with library staff for future craft classes for children. Library members and non members attended, some of whom used the opportunity to join the service and become regular borrowers. Many children who attended events also joined the Library’s Summer Reading Challenge, Team Read.
Younger children aged from 5 to 7 also enjoyed a special craft session, making Little Red Riding Hood book marks while parents, grandparents, and child minders took the opportunity to browse for the hour and explore and borrow from the library’s collection of books, DVDs and Music CDs.
Children joined in a guided tour of Ennis Abbey, meeting at the library and walking with library staff to visit the well-preserved 13th Century ruins founded by the Franciscans. This event was a valuable introduction to local history for young children who might not otherwise have visited the Abbey. Visits to Clare Museum were also organized, where Museum guides were ready and willing to explain the origins of all artifacts linked with the lives and experiences of the people of County Clare in times gone by. Ennis Fire Station visits are always guaranteed enjoyment for children. Each year the firefighters at the station make a huge fuss of their young visitors, allowing them to try on their fire helmets, operate the water hoses and of course exploration of the fire engine is a must. This year the firefighters spoke with children about the importance of fire safety in the home, safety on the roads and patiently dealt with questions from all the young enthusiasts.
Other activities this year included art classes, storytime for young children and a spinning and weaving workshop with hands-on instruction for the children attending on how to spin and weave and a chance to examine different types of yarn and wool.

Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children crowned Best of the Booker

The Best of the Booker is a one-off celebratory award to mark the 40th anniversary of the Booker Prize. A shortlist for the award was announced on the 12th of May 2008. The six shortlisted books, chosen from the list of 41 Booker Prize and Man Booker Prize winners, were:
Pat Barker's The Ghost Road
Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda
JM Coetzee's Disgrace
JG Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur
Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist
Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children
The public were asked to cast their vote through online partnerships with national and international media, with libraries, reading groups and book retailers, which gave millions of people across the globe the opportunity of registering their votes for their favourite book from the shortlist.
Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children was crowned the Best of the Booker when voting closed at midday on 8 July. Over 7800 people had voted online and by SMS for the six shortlisted titles, with 36% voting for Midnight's Children. Votes flooded in from across the world with 37% of online votes coming from the UK, followed by 27% from North America.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Free access to Encyclopedia Britannica Online

Members of Clare County Library now enjoy free access to Encyclopedia Britannica Online, one of the most authoritative sources of information available. It includes the complete encyclopedia and is presented online in three editions, targeting different age groups. You can connect to Britannica from anywhere using your library card. Follow the links on our Online Resources page and enter your library card number when requested.

Mick Flynn launches new album at Ennistymon Courthouse

“CUT AND RUN”, the new album from Mick Flynn, wil be launched at 8pm tonight, the 16th July, at the Courthouse studios and Gallery, Ennistmon, with a concert to follow from 8-10pm. The album was recorded in the sound recording studio at the Courthouse Studios and Gallery, and tonight promises to be a great occasion. Don't miss it.

Merriman Summer School in Ennis

The 41st Cumann Merriman Summer School will to be held in Ennis between Sunday 17th and Saturday 23rd of August 2008, with the theme “From Brian Ború to Patrick Hillery: Continuity and change in Irish history and society”. Supported by Clare Council, and featuring an exhibition in the Clare Museum of Merriman photographs from Clare County Library’s archive, the school “promises an exciting six days of stimulating discussions and conviviality. In returning to Ennis, where the first Summer School took place, this year’s gathering takes the opportunity to reassess our cultural heritage and societal mores at a time of rapid change in Ireland. There will also be a special focus on history and society in County Clare and Thomond. The Summer School is bilingual: most of the lectures are in English.”
Programme of Events

Wednesday 9 July 2008

19th Century Ordnance Survey Maps online - Clare to Donegal

It is now possible to access the early 19th Century Ordnance Survey maps of counties Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal online. The service uses technology developed by Rainer Kosbi in association with public library authorities in each county. Access is totally free - without subscription - and the Clare and Mayo maps are closely integrated with their respective websites. You will need to download a plugin for your browser to access these maps, and you will need to use Internet Explorer for the time being.
Digitised versions of historic Ordnance Survey maps of the whole country, including the later 25" maps of 1913, are also available in public library branches throughout the country as a result of collaboration between Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Public Library Service.

“Altering Fluid Perceptions” exhibition at Courthouse Gallery, Ennistymon

The Courthouse Gallery, Ennistymon, will be exhibiting “Altering Fluid Perceptions” a series of paintings by Limerick born artist Emma Berkery, “one of Ireland’s foremost contemporary artists. These wonderful abstract works are produced in a very distinct flowing style, with bursts of colour, enough to brighten the greyest Irish day. Incorporating themes of beauty, perfection and control, Berkery has created a beautiful experience for the viewer, complemented by the light and space of the Courthouse Gallery". Artist Deirdre O’Mahony will open the show on the 11th of July and this exhibition runs until the 2nd August. The Courthouse Gallery is opened Tuesdays to Saturdays, noon to 5pm.

Monday 7 July 2008

'LASHING RAIN' paintings by Frank Sanford

"Lashing Rain", the new exhibition at the Russell Gallery is now online, and will be exhibited at the gallery in New Quay from the 5th to the 27th July. The exhibition is sponsored by Clare County Council.

Thursday 3 July 2008

500th posting to Clare Past Forum

A milestone was reached recently with the 500th posting to the Clare Past Forum. The online forum service offers an online meeting place for Clare historians, genealogists and heritage enthusiasts. It already contains postings on a wide variety of subjects related to the county’s past - mainly in the 18th and 19th centuries - including reports of births, marriages and deaths; historical items on individual towns, villages and settlements in 19th century Clare; massacres and riots; agrarian troubles; books, reading lists and other sources of historical information; court proceedings; hangings, floggings, burnings at the stake and pilloryings; murders, assaults, duels and other miscellaneous violence; political meetings and upheavals; the famines; genealogical enquiries; donated information on members of the Clare diaspora in Australia, New Zealand and North America; archaeological findings; evictions; poisonings; maps and satellite views of Clare; polygamy; sales of land; prominent sons and daughters of Clare; the events of 1916-1925; emigration; passenger lists and passenger list indexes; Clare family photos; shipwrecks; graveyard transcriptions; names of Clare men in the American civil war; and so forth. However, members are free to post whatever they like as long as the topics are within the remit and rules of the forum. The chat on the forum is congenial and new members are very welcome.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Brian Boru Festival Presentations in Killaloe Library

Presentation of prizes for the Brian Boru art and writing competitions took place in Killaloe Public Library on the 18th of June 2008. Rosaleen Rainford of the Brian Boru Festival Committee and Killaloe Library staff organised the presentation to 5th and 6th class children from all Primary Schools in the area. All entries were displayed in the branch library and commentated on by the judges. Refreshments were served to 90 children and the 8 teachers who attended.

Irish Times free online

The Irish Times is now available free online at, reinforcing the view that when a service goes digital it will inevitably be offered free. Their Digital Archive is still a subscription service, however, although free access is available in public library branches throughout the country.

Longlist for Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction

The long-list for the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction is a great source for excellent new non-fiction books. This year’s longlist of 20 titles was announced on the 15th May. The winner of the prize for 2008 will be announced at an awards ceremony in at the South Bank Centre, London on 15 July 2008 and will be broadcast live on BBC Four the following Sunday. The long-list:
"Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800" by Lisa Appignanesi
"Miracles of Life" by JG Ballard
"Nothing to be Frightened Of" by Julian Barnes
"Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart" by Tim Butcher
"Crow Country" by Mark Cocker
"Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey Through Symmetry" by Marcus du Sautoy
"The Whisperers" by Orlando Figes
"The World is What it is: The Authorized Biography of VS Naipaul" by Patrick French
"Rudolf Nureyev" by Julie Kavanagh
"Austerity Britain 1945-1951" by David Kynaston
"Mrs Woolf and the Servants" by Alison Light
"Cold Cream: My Early Life and Other Mistakes" by Ferdinand Mount
"Watching the Door" by Kevin Myers
"Confessions of an Eco Sinner" by Fred Pearce
"Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland" by Jonathan Powell
"A Life of Picasso, Volume III: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932" by John Richardson
"The Discovery of France" by Graham Robb
"The Rest is Noise" by Alex Ross
"The Suspicions of Mr Whicher" by Kate Summerscale
"The Brother Gardeners" by Andrea Wulf