The Townlands Project was begun in the Spring of 2009, by Alan Counihan, collaborating with fellow artist Gypsy Ray, as a creative exploration of a north-Kilkenny landscape, speciﬁcally the nine townlands of the old civil parish of Rathcoole.
Its focus is primarily on the “vernacular” history of the parish ﬁelds, their form and use, and the names and stories by which they are still speciﬁcally remembered. It also seeks to engage with farm and family customs.
These investigations of landscape, ﬁeld lore, and associated vernacular tradition are accompanied by an examination of, reﬂection on and juxtaposition with, the contemporary practices by which they have been supplanted.
The overall goal of the Townlands Project is the representation of local place to and by local people, among others, using creative means for the exploration, distillation, and expression of its folklore. history and contemporary landscape. The project is an ongoing in-depth exploration of a particular landscape as an inhabited and working environment.
Any landscape is a work-in-progress subject to the continual processes of physical change. Even a farmed or managed landscape is a constantly changing canvas, a palimpsest shaped by human needs and work to which each generation adds a new layer. The overall goal of the Townlands Project is to reveal these layers and to represent local place to local people, among others, by means of a disciplined collation of both historical and contemporary information. This information is being archived and presented in such a way as to allow the contemporary landscape to be seen in all its complex historical richness.
This representation, through documentary exhibition and eventual publication, will be in a vibrant and contemporary language.
The Townlands Project research has been initiated by outsiders to the parish landscape and is for them a process of discovery. It is hoped that the heritage “data” gathered by the project will enrich not only the experience and practice of the artists involved but the community and landscape they explore and where they have made their home.
The Townlands Project was an action of the Kilkenny Heritage Plan 2007-2011 and is supported by the Kilkenny Heritage Forum, the Arts and Heritage Offices of Kilkenny County Council,The Heritage Council, and the Johnswell Development Committee.