'Lives Illuminated': Oral and Local Memory History project

NEWS / 31 March 2023

Transition Year students in Stratford College and Jewish Arts Culture Ireland (JACI)  launched a series of short films, along with an interactive heritage trail and map, and a series of creative responses, made with elderly members of Dublin’s Jewish community.

Entitled - Lives Illuminated - the unique project saw students work with historians, filmmakers, writers and artists to explore Jewish culture and heritage in Ireland, in a hands-on way, and learn how it can help to gain a better understanding of Irish culture as a whole.

An intergenerational memory project involved Jewish community narrators being interviewed by students, telling of their lives, their family histories, and their experience of Dublin; creating an important audio and visual record which will ultimately serve as a vital memory archive of an ageing population. The students then provided their own creative response to the stories, from poetry and performance pieces, to photography.96 year old Renée Borchardt discusses her experience of coming to Ireland in the 1940s, the rise of nationalism today and of recently welcoming a Ukranian refugee into her home: Click Here.

A heritage trail has also been created by the TY students outlining areas in the city which traditionally had close links to the Jewish community, with a video guide and map available to download for anyone interested in tracing the history and the stories behind certain places, from the Jewish businesses which once operated on Clanbrassil St, to the Bretzel Bakery in Portobello.

Download the interactive heritage trail and map: Click Here

Bertha Cohen talks about Clanbrassil St. – Click Here

See photos Here and Here

And read TY Creative Responses Here. 

Speaking about the programme, Mr Saul Woolfson (JACI) said: “We have worked with the students to capture the voices and experience of elders tracing through their lives an often untold or quiet history. It has been a hugely enriching experience for all involved, resulting in stories, music and insights that deeply connect the varied, diverse culture and life of the city in a lively and present way”.

Patricia Gordon, Principal of Stratford College commented: “My thanks to the many artists, writers, historians, the elders, our own teachers and the experts who gave of their time over the last few months, along with the students, who together have created an important local history project, as well as an oral and visual archive which will be of relevance into the future. It’s been a unique learning opportunity for all”.

All videos are available to view at Stratford College Dublin’s You Tube channel.
Physical copies of the free Heritage trail and map can be ordered from admin@stratfordcollege.ie.

Jewish Arts and Culture Ireland (JACI) is a sub-committee of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, and is focused on fostering and supporting the arts relating to Jewish culture and heritage in Ireland.
Stratford College was founded by the Dublin Jewish community in 1954. Today the post primary school in Rathgar welcomes students of all faiths, and none.

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