The Irish have a name for the formal process of coming together for a common purpose. But Meitheal is more than a collaboration; it is a traditional method of accomplishing a communal objective — often involving artists and other cultural creatives — where the process is valued as highly as the product.
My dear friend Colleen Gallagher was involved in one such project over a two year period in County Cork, where the community sponsored artists from both sides of the Atlantic to come and live in their homes and meet with them in designing a mural for the brick walls leading to the local school. Once this Southeast Ireland community had come to a decision on how their identity could best be represented in visual form, the international team of artists helped them in planning how to best involve various ages — from toddlers to seniors — in its execution.
And throughout the two-year timeframe, another team of photographers documented the project and process as it unfolded. The end result, as you might suspect, was not only a celebrated work of beauty for their children to pass on their way to school each day, but also a story of how they all came together to achieve it, which is what these youngsters will pass on someday to others, long past the time the mural has perhaps faded from aging bricks to youthful memories.
[Jay Thomas Taber (O’Neal) derives from the most prominent tribe in Irish history, nEoghan Ua Niall, the chief family in Northern Ireland between the 4th and the 17th centuries. His maternal family name in Irish means champion. Jay’s ancestors were the last great leaders of Gaelic Ireland, and in 1999 he walked the fields of Kinsale where they once fought. His grandmother’s grandfather’s grandfather emigrated from Belfast to South Carolina in 1768.]
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here