Buzzing atmosphere at the book launch of ‘The Field Names of County Meath’
There was a great buzz of excitement last Thursday night for the launch of the book ‘The Field Names of County Meath’. Over 300 people attended the event at the Ardboyne Hotel, Navan; many of them had been directly involved in contributing to the project.
As people arrived many of them purchased their copy of the book and then keenly thumbed through the pages to find mentions and photos of their own fields and townlands. The event was a celebration of a lot of hard work, all coming together into a worthwhile end product.
Speakers on the night were John McCullen, Project Chairman; Ciarán Mangan, County Librarian; Tom Hennessy, Chairman Meath Partnership; Eddie Downey, Deputy President of the IFA and John Clancy, President of Meath Archaeological and Historical Society.
The book was launched by Matt Dempsey, from the Irish Farmers Journal.
A theme touched on by all the speakers was the huge contribution that volunteers and voluntary work made to this project. Individual speakers also highlighted aspects of the book that particularly appealed to them such as the photos of forge made gates, the examples of unusual field names and the preservation of farming memories from days gone by.
John McCullen explained how the book is laid out with information on the origins of the project, the project findings, volunteer experiences of doing survey work, a variety of townland maps, articles by contributors with specialist expertise and a sizable selection of photographs.
The book has over 400 pages in full colour. At this size it is not intended that a reader will read it from cover to cover in one sitting. It is a book that the reader can dip in and out of and refer back to. Great time and effort has gone into preparing this book to ensure a top quality publication. Frances Tallon of Meath County Council Library Service was the main editor of the book. In keeping with the ethos of the Steering Group to support local enterprise, the graphic design work was done by Anú Design, Tara. Great praise is due to Karen Carty and Terry Foley for their meticulous design work. The book was printed by Anglo Printers in Drogheda, also a very professional job.
The group hopes that the book strikes a good blend and balance; and indeed that it will lead to readers appreciating Meath fields and their names in a whole new light. The book has been very well received to date. It has been described as ‘a beauty that will be treasured in many’s the home.’ Hundreds of photos of Meath fields and interesting features in those fields are distributed throughout the book. Many people were involved in taking this beautiful and well observed photos, each photographer is credited.
Hundreds of volunteers around the County have helped with this project and many of them attended the book launch to see results of their work. Voluntary work was the foundation of this project. It could not have happened without the hundreds of helpers who gathered the field names and contributed in so many ways to the success of the project. This book launch marks the culmination of over three years of voluntary work. One Dublin person who attended the launch commented that the project ‘demonstrates the importance of grassroots in every sense.’
Meath Field Names Project was developed and managed by a committed voluntary steering group chaired by John McCullen. Project secretary Oliver Ward has given the project a huge commitment from the early days. The book has been compiled by Joan Mullen, Project Co-ordinator. The Steering Group has 18 members from all around the County.
The principal project funder has been Meath Partnership through the Leader Rural Development Programme. The FBD Trust was the main benefactor of the project and gave generous matching funding in the early stages of the project making it possible to proceed with Leader applications. The project has also received financial support from the Heritage Council and a range of Meath contributors. The three partner organisations in the project are Meath County Council Library Service, Meath IFA and Meath Archaeological and Historical Society.
The Meath Field Names Project is the first of its kind for an entire County in Ireland. As such it is breaking new ground. There are records for just over 24,700 fields on the database – no small achievement! There are still townlands in Meath where the field names have not been gathered and surveyed. If more resources become available in the future it may be possible to complete the work. People interested in surveying townlands not already covered are invited to contact the project through the website. It is hoped that the project will be replicated in other Counties, several are already showing interest.
The first part of the project website is now live at www.meathfieldnames.com. An interactive mapping feature will be added to the website in the next 2 months that will enable the browser to look at field names in all townlands surveyed and drill down into all the information within the project database.
The book will be of great interest to many people including Meath people living abroad. It is now available to buy for €20 at all branches of Meath library. It will also be available in some local shops and through members of the project Steering Group. For more detailed information on outlets stocking the book check the news section of the website www.meathfieldnames.com. For people outside County Meath interested in obtaining a copy of the book, it is available to order online through www.kennys.ie.