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Council Initiatives Shortlisted

Clare Champion, Friday, 21st July 2006

Two Clare County Council initiatives have been shortlisted for separate Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards.

The nominated projects are the Clare Tithe Applotment Books Transcription Project in the Arts, Culture and Recreation category, and the Strategy for the co-ordination of Public Services to the Traveller Community in Clare 2005-2008, in the Social and Community Development category.

"The Strategy for the co-ordination of Public Services to the Traveller Community in Clare 2005-2008 aims to strengthen the culture and self-governance capacity of the traveller community in Clare, while enhancing their quality of life in the immediate and long term", a spokesman for the Council explained. He continued, "It also aims to identify and address gaps in the current provision of public services and to co-ordinate and integrate existiing service delivery around the themes of accommodation, health, education and work and employment".

Clare County Council developed the Clare strategy by means of an extensive consultation process with agencies and travellers. 23 statutory and local agencies and over 100 members of the traveller community took part in various working groups around the county. The strategy's implementation is being monitored and managed by the strategy co-ordinator and Tom Coughlan, Director of Services for Community and Enterprise.

According to Mr. Coughlan, "It was recognised that issues surrounding traveller health, accommodation, education and work and employment were all interlinked and that only by co-operation between all agencies in consultation with travellers, could a real difference be made". Commenting on being shortlisted at the Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards 2006, Mr. Coughlan said, "Clare County Council has proven itself to be progressive in its working relationship with the traveller community and its general policy toward social and community development in the county. This nomination is an honour for Clare County Council and just recognition of the work conducted by Local Authorities in the area of social and community development.

The purpose of the Clare Tithe Applotment Books Transcription Project was to make the information contained in the Tithe Applotment books available online. The books were compiled between 1823 and 1837 in order to establish the amount landholders should pay towards the upkeep of the Church of Ireland. "They are regarded as an important pre-famine source for family history and landholding patterns, while they also document the pre-ordnance survey townland names, many of which have now disappeared. The Clare TAB Project uniquely involved volunteers from Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and other countries to transcribe the books and to make the results available through the Library's website at The project ran from January 2004 until July 2005," county Librarian, Noel Crowley, explained.

He said that the project came about as a result of a discussion on the Clare mailing list of the Rootsweb genealogy website, where people interested in Clare genealogy were discussing possible ways of getting more Clare genealogical data online. In January 2004, a Rootsweb member made an approach to Clare County Library, which later agreed to co-ordinate and manage the project. "The response to the Library's call for volunteers was overwhelming and extremely encouraging. It shows what can be achieved in a short space of time and at minimal cost by co-operation between volunteer transcribers from all over the world and a public institution such as Clare County Library. The Tithe Applotment Books for County Clare would not now be available online, free of charge, without this co-operation. The project was a focal point to the Clare Diaspora and also encouraged increased use of the Library's website," Mr. Crowley added.

The Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards aim to acknowledge and encourage innovation and best practice among Ireland's Local Authorities. Last year, Local Authorities were commended for initiatives such as a public-private partnership community centre in a previously disadvantaged area; innovative waste management programmes, spatial information delivery systems and outstanding customer service.

The 2006 winers will be announced on November 9th at an awards presentation ceremony in The Burlington Hotel, Dublin.

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