Posted by: John McGerr | January 12, 2009

Computers and Home


2003 was a big year for me, and my parents, especially my Dad when a long held dream came true. For a number of years Dad had kept photos and cutting from newpapers about people and events in the Parish, especially the GAA Club. He had often expressed a desire to make this collection available to people to look at. Once I got some experience with website design I figured a website was a good place to make this stuff available. Which is how my second and third websites came to be. I did one for the local GAA Club and followed that by creating the Edgeworthstown Parish Scrapbook which featured about 400 photos. About the same time, pre-2000, the Parish Priest announced a Millennium project, a history of the Parish. The initial idea was simply for each townsland(a subdivision of the Parish) to do the history of it’s own area. This was then displayed in the Church. My Father felt this was a inadequate way of doing things and after some persuasion the Priest agreed and a committee was formed with the aim of writing a book. I don’t think we knew what we had let ourselves in for. As the only one on the Committee with a good knowledge of computers I got the taks of scanning and organising the photos. At first this wasn’t too bad but I quickly found that I needed some good software and ended up with the program IMatch – this was excellent. I could catalogue photos by townsland, add captions and names, group them in a variety of ways. And by the time the book was published we’d collected almost 1900 photos. Many of these came had the same people in them but had come from different contributors. Some weren’t great quality. But we went through each one and divided them in to definites, maybes and no. Then we went through  the maybes and turned them into definites or no’s.  We also gathered written material, stories of organisations that were or had existed in the town but the biggest decision of all – made early in the process was this one. We decided to take the 1901 census of the Parish and it’s list of houses in the area and trace the history of that house up to the present day(if it still existed), the different families that had lived there, or the same family if this was the case. And also for the shops and businesses in town. It was quite an undertaking, but, in the end, in 2003 we published a book that we were and are extremely proud of. We put our own money into it to fund the initial costs and we worked with a great layout guy, who really added to the finished article. My mother came up with the name ‘ ó theach go teach’ (which means ‘from house to house’) and I designed the cover. The book included more than eight hundred photos and was almost six hundred pages. We had an initial print run of 800 books and we were half- afraid that we’d never sell them, but ten days after the launch the books were sold out and there were demands for more copies, in February we got a reprint done of five hundred more copies. The initial flood dried to a trickle and there are still some of the books left(less than twenty at the time of writing) we can only consider it a major success.

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