The Glenfarne Archive – Project Overview
During 2020 we began collaboratively researching various ideas that informed both of our practices – pedagogy as practice, rural communities of place, hauntology, and geopsychology – specifically along and across the Irish Border region between our respective homes in Leitrim and Donegal. This led to our Decade of Centenaries project The Glenfarne Archive wherein we produced an artistic response of the historical Tottenham Estate in the border region of Glenfarne, County Leitrim.
This project involved historical research, photography, drawing, aerial and ground mapping, the planning and delivery of participatory community workshops in liaison with Sextons House, Manorhamilton, and the development of a map of the area, real and imagined. An edition of the creative map and a digital archive were produced for members of the public and visitors to the area.
We facilitated reminiscence workshops that allowed us to begin documenting the rich memories of elderly residents in that area of Leitrim. The recollections describe childhoods, love and loss and most prominently, a sustainable way of life, strongly connected to the land that for many of us, just a few generations later, is now unimaginable. There are also interesting references to their lived experiences of the political landscape due to the close vicinity of the border with Northern Ireland.
Through our research, we discovered surviving examples of original trees from the Tottenham era which, in combination with historical ordnance survey maps led us to re-discover a landscape that has since been almost totally obliterated by the commercial forestry development on this significant historical site.
Furthermore, we uncovered the remains of an impressive walled garden of almost four acres in size. Local residents can still recall playing there as children before the ever expanding commercial forestry plantation prevented access. This walled garden provided the entire Tottenham household and guests with a fresh supply of produce including exotic foods and plants as was fashionable at the time. We found evidence of handmade glass panes that once formed part of the extensive series of hot houses that were heated throughout the year by sophisticated steam powered engineering at a time when the estate’s tenant farmers were dying of hunger and disease caused by a series of smaller famines and Typhus epidemics.
About The Artists
Grainne McMenamin was born in the Northwest of Ireland and is now based in South Donegal. Exploring personal and local histories in combination with nature has been an ongoing inspiration since a young age.
Having studied Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Ulster Art College in Belfast, she went on to study at the Akademie der Bildenden Kuenste in Munich, Germany, where she remained for some time, afterwards living near Bristol, England, followed by Berlin, Germany before returning to live in Ireland.
She has exhibited in Germany and the UK and in recent times has been working on a number of projects funded by Leitrim County Council and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Decade of Centenaries Programme, alongside her own studio-based practice of sculpture, painting, printmaking, drawing, writing and hand embroidery using plant-dyed silk and local Donegal wools.
Catherine Bourne is an Australian artist, researcher and educator based in Drumshanbo in Co Leitrim. She has undertaken various residencies and art projects in Ireland, Australia, the UK, Scandinavia, The Netherlands and China. Catherine currently lectures in the history and theory of digital art at UCC, Cork, and is developing the Arts and Culture in Education Research Repository.