There is a strong feeling of satisfaction with writing the articles so far. I still very much find myself wanting to write more and more, finding more missing articles, more stubs, more, more, more! I’m really starting to adopt this “encyclopaedic urge” I’ve been writing about for the past year or more.
I started this week with a man who is quite famous in Irish geological circles, John S. Jackson. I first came to know about Jackson whilst cataloguing the rock collection in the Natural History Museum. By all accounts he was a meticulous man, and his rock specimens were no different. Each rock was replete with all its details, written in immaculate penmanship in white ink. As he is in the Dictionary of Irish Biography, and has a lecture dedicated to his memory, I felt that his omission from Wikipedia was more than a small oversight. The only downside of doing more contemporaneous biographies is the likelihood of getting a photo or picture to illustrate the article is probably quite slim. I think this is by far the longest article I have written, and I do find the biographies the most fulfilling to write, though they are slightly more challenging. Source biographies can have a lot of extraneous detail, or supposition, so it can be more time consuming to filter that out.
I decided to do my mother’s home town proud with the next entry on Kilmallock Abbey Co. Limerick. This is a national monument, which is why it is on my list. Similar to the museums I have written about so far, finding good, non-tourist sources to write about this site was quite tough. Unless you have a large library on monastic history, stumbling across a solid academic source is going to be hard. That said I found enough to get an article started, and no doubt there is plenty that could be added to it in time. I just like to see one less red link in the monument lists we are so familiar with from Wiki Loves Monuments.
As I mentioned biographies are a little more demanding to write, and with some of the figures I have on my list, can be a little harder to find good sources for. For this reason I went with a buildings or cultural sites for two days in a row. The Arigna Mining Experience is something I have heard a lot about, given that I know a few people involved in mining and geological heritage in Ireland. I have also met some of the staff at museum events over the years, and seen one or two presentations on the project. I have never been myself, but given I had heard so much about it and that the representation of non-Dublin Irish museums on Wikipedia is quite poor I felt it was important to concentrate on improving the coverage. It was a little different to write about, but there was a number of very good sources to draw on, and given that there was the recent 25 year anniversary since the closing of the coal mine, a bit of news coverage too. In a lot of ways, this was a fuss-free article to write, and there was even one or two images on Commons to use!
I returned to my comfort zone of Irish women in STEM with lucky number 13: Kathleen King, who was an expert on mosses and liverworts. She was quite interesting to write about, as she came to botanical study later in life, and I’m always heartened to read about people who engage with life long learning so whole-heartedly. Again there was no shortage of sources, but some of them were written with a distinct element of admiration, which of course needs to be pared back for the Neutral Point of View. Whilst I am also in awe of her achievements, you can’t let that shine through in the article.
The stamina and sheer determination of some of the people I have written about so far is really engaging. In some ways it makes you quite jealous of their ability to maintain such a degree of interest in their chosen field, whilst also doing a full time job, raising a family, or doing it all for little or no money. It brings me back to one of the central reasons I got interested in the citizen curators of this world, as they possess the same traits, some of which I would like to foster. I think this challenge is going a long way to doing that!