Achill Island Field Report 9: Arrival of Kevin and Lecture in Westport, 28-29 June 2006

On the 28th I’m driving to Westport to pick up Kevin Cullen, an archaeology graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is Irish-born, but emigrated to America when he was young, and it has been eight years since he’s been back to Ireland. He is also a diver, and will be participating in the project through the end of July.

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In addition, I am going to be presenting a lecture on the maritime archaeology of Clew Bay to the Westport Historical Society on the following day. My friends and hosts in Westport, the Shanley family, suggested the community would be interested in my research, and they arranged the event with the help of Aiden Clarke of the Clew Bay Heritage Centre. As it turns out, they have asked me to be the inaugural speaker for a new lecture series established in honor of Jarleth Duffy, a prominent member of the Westport Historical Society. Mr. Duffy recently passed away, and it is obvious from talking to locals in Westport how respected he was, and how instrumental he was in the operations of the Historical Society and Heritage Centre. The lecture has been well-advertised, and we are hoping to have good attendance. Here is the announcement in the local paper, the Mayo News.

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Here is the opening slide for my presentation at the new Plaza hotel. It went very well, and enough people showed up so that it was standing room only. Afterwards, lots of folks made their way through the crowd to share with me their own interest in Clew Bay’s maritime history, and a number have provided me with information useful to my research here. Events like these are important for both archaeologists and local communities, because after all it is these people’s history that I am exploring. It is worth sharing, and local knowledge always helps shape our understanding of the archaeology we do.

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After the lecture, I pose for a photograph with some Westport Historical Society notables. From left to right is Sheila Mulloy, John Mayock (Chairman of the Historical Society), myself, Anne Duffy (widow of the late Jarleth Duffy), Kitty O’Malley Harlow, and John Mulloy (President of the Historical Society). They have generously presented me with a gift of a number of the Society’s published journal, which were selected to include the best of maritime history articles.

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Photograph by Aiden Clarke Kevin and I stay one more night in Westport, and then head out to Achill the following day. Things are beginning to get exciting around here, as with another team member we can accomplish a lot more work in the field.