Clifden Archive at UCD

The Official Guide to the Clifden Arts Festival Archive

Photos from the Festival Archive

View a selection of photos from the Photographic Archive via Flickr.

Donation Ceremony in UCD Library

View photos of the​ ​official handover of the archive to UCD Library, February 2017.

The Clifden Arts Festival

Founded in 1977, the Clifden Arts Festival is the longest running community arts festival in Ireland. It has grown over time from a small community event to one of international importance. This achievement is due to the vision, passion and ambition of founder Brendan Flynn, his fellow committee members and the entire Clifden community.

Brendan Flynn, Founder

The Archive Comes To UCD

The Clifden Arts Festival Archive is made up of high quality literary, musical and visual materials – including minute books, correspondence, posters, extensive film footage, and thousands of original photographs. It charts the history of the Clifden Community Arts Festival, and documents the extraordinary range of writers, musicians and artists featured over the years.

This substantial paper and digital archive has been entrusted to UCD, and is held under the care of UCD Library. This archive allows current and future generations appreciate and better understand this very special community festival. It reveals the impact it has had on the local community and the region, and film footage and photographs allow the experience of the festival to be enjoyed, and explored, long after the event itself.

Building Connections and Enriching Education

Academics and postgraduates in the College of Arts and Humanities at UCD will be working closely with the archive and forging links with future festival events, in keeping with UCD’s commitment to the preservation of our cultural heritage and the formation of partnerships with individuals and institutions in the field of the arts.

This archive complements UCD’s innovative Irish Poetry Reading Archive, which captures the voices of Irish poets and is creating a unique record of the contemporary poetry landscape.

The Arts Council’s Strategy 2016 – 2025 regards the arts as ‘the hallmark of our creativity as a people’. This important festival archive represents a unique insight into the distinctive power of the arts and their capacity to express the histories and experiences of Irish people. The links established between Clifden Arts Festival and UCD present opportunities to build new partnerships between the arts and third-level education in Ireland into the future.

Tell Us What You Think

We are interested in hearing your comments and thoughts about this archive we are building. If you have additional information or resources related to past Clifden Arts Festivals, and would be happy to make them available to our archive, please get in touch with us. Thank you very much.

Working In Partnership

Clifden Arts Festival and UCD are proud to be working in partnership to preserve this digital archive, and continue to build it up over time. We aim to capture and make available, only where permission is granted by the artists, as many of the Clifden Arts Festival’s activities and events as possible.

The UCD Digital Library provides the specialist expertise needed to preserve this important archive for future generations, for scholars and for enthusiasts at home and abroad.

This project, which is unique in its form and extent, does not serve any commercial purpose. Read more here.

Will You Work With Us?

In order to make this archive widely available, we are reaching out to writers / artists who have worked with the festival over the last 10 – 15 years, seeking permission to make older recordings available to the public, thus ensuring preservation and access to future generations.

Where possible we will provide you with a copy of your recording. We will ask permission for the right to place recordings, either in their entirety or an excerpt, into the UCD Special Collections YouTube Channel, the UCD Digital Library, with links provided on the Clifden Arts Festival webpage.

We will also be asking artists and writers performing in future festival events to allow their performances be recorded and added to the Clifden Arts Festival Archive@UCD.

Our approach to collecting materials for the archive will be reviewed regularly, taking on board advice from the artists and writers, Clifden Arts Festival Committee, and UCD Library.

Bernhard Sanders – Creator of the Digital Archive

The man behind the scenes, building the digital archive over the last 10 years, is Bernhard Sanders. A retired sound engineer and freelance photographer based in Cologne, Germany, he has been visiting the Clifden Festival since the late 1980s.

From 1996, he began to make occasional recordings of Festival events, and build up a photographic record. Plans to build a digital archive emerged in 2008 following discussions between Sanders, Brendan Flynn (Artistic Director/ founder of the Clifden Arts Festival), and John Durning (Visual Arts Curator).

Sanders is assisted in his work by the tireless efforts of the other photographers and participants, who record as many performances as possible each year. Then back in Germany over the winter months, Sanders edits the videos, collates the photographs, and adds them to the archive. When asked what draws him back annually, he speaks of the ‘fascinating environment of Clifden and Connemara, the friendliness of the people, and the quality of the events’.

Preserving Digital Archives

The man behind the scenes, building the digital archive over the last 10 years, is Bernhard Sanders. A retired sound engineer and freelance photographer based in Cologne, German

UCD Library provides national leadership in capturing and preserving digital expressions of our culture and our heritage.

Digital archives require a high level of the expertise to assure their preservation and continuing availability for scholars and enthusiasts into the future. The quality of the Clifden Arts Festival digital archive, and the care with which they have been edited and archived, makes it possible to place this collection within the UCD Digital Library.

The UCD Digital Library holds the “Data Seal of Approval”, an accreditation, recognised by the European Commission, which ensures that a sustainable infrastructure is provided for these cultural heritage collections. The expertise of Library staff helps to ensure that these materials are available for teaching and research both at home and abroad, increasing public engagement and creating new opportunities for artists.