What did you learn?
Just putting the word out on social media and inviting people to share a story didn't seem to work as well as a more personal approach. It was really important that there were sporting organisations amongst our partners who had existing networks of sports people which we were able to reach.
We reached out to national governing bodies for different sports, who were already having a very busy year but who cooperated in different ways. For example, Surfing Ireland took on a role in our project finding archive photographs from the early days of surfing in Ireland.
We thought it was important to engage and reach out to minority voices and marginalised groups so their sporting stories and experiences would be part of the campaign. We also received feedback supporting the need for this approach to ensure Ireland’s Stories was pro-actively working to be better representative of diverse voices and experiences across Ireland. For example, we’ve been collecting and working with Sport Against Racism in Ireland, Black and Irish, Irish Homeless Street Leagues and the Sanctuary Runners Ireland.
We also found it important to talk about our experiences and lessons learnt at the Europeana Lunch Café on Europe’s Sport Heritage and Europeana Sport webinar: Engaging Audiences with Sport and Culture
How has the pandemic shaped your activities?
All of these stories have connected people together around their love for sport, exercise, friendship, community and wellbeing. It would be brilliant to continue this type of digital story collecting and support Europeana as a home for our collective memory and shared experiences. There’s clearly a huge appetite for it during COVID-19, as many simply want to remember and share significant moments with others.
Much of our communication has been about asking people to share stories. We've been encouraged by volunteers in sport organisations who are looking to digitise their sports memorabilia, encouraging others to participate in the campaign.
Elsewhere in Ireland, as part of Europeana’s Europe at Work season, the Hunt Museum in Limerick, hosted an international symposium and collection day called Ardnacrusha Memories to highlight how the Shannon Hydro-Electric Scheme played a pivotal role in the social, economic and industrial development of Ireland in the 20th century.
Maybe with people cocooning due to the lockdown, this has been an opportunity to connect with them in their community to share their stories. Ireland’s Stories is continuing to collect individual sporting stories and also engage with local communities, libraries, archives, museums, galleries, and other types of cultural heritage organisations to collect and share sporting heritage and experiences.