Meitheal1 is the Irish word for a work team, gang, or party and denotes the co-operative labour system in Ireland where groups of neighbours help each other in turn with farming work, such as harvesting crops. The heart of the concept is community unity through cooperative work and mutually reciprocal support. It is the Irish expression of the ancient and universal appliance of cooperation to social need.2
1Pronounced meh-hull, like metal without the hard T

‘Meitheal – A practical guide to participatory engagement, collaborative creation, and community co-production in heritage and culture’ was written as part of Donegal County Museum’s contribution to the three-year, EU-funded, CINE Project.

CINE Project funded by the European Union
Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme 2014-2020

In these pages, my aim was to take the concept and spirit of Meitheal to explore the fundamentals of community co-production, with examples from both my own practice, and my experience facilitating Donegal County Museum’s engagement with the community of Inch, Donegal, in 2019/2020. While specifically written for the heritage sector, I hope this guide is as applicable to community engagement across the cultural industries.

Meitheal – photo courtesy of Boyd Bryce, Inch

I’ve broken the guide down into five specific areas, covering planning, initial contacts, the process element of co-production, and the legacy issues you may need to address. I’d originally planned to write this as a traditional publication, but the world changed in March 2020, and as the focus of the CINE Project was online, I opted for this format, which has also allowed me to add audio and images easily, to provide further context. At the bottom of each page you’ll find this…


Click on the link and it will take you to the next page, or simply choose from the menu across the top.

This guide is available for download as a PDF.

About the CINE Project

Connected Culture and Natural Heritage in a Northern Environment (CINE) is a collaborative digital heritage project between 9 partners and 10 associated partners from Norway, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. 

Donegal County Museum and the Ulster University’s School of Computing, Engineering and Intelligent Systems have been working together on the CINE Project since its inception in 2017. The focus for the final months of the project in 2020 was to create a co-produced virtual exhibition with a new community in Donegal, specifically in this case-study, the island of Inch, in Lough Swilly.

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