1641 Depositions Research Project
From the Deposition of Elizabeth Price, 1642
“The prisoners were driven to the water and then and there they instantly and most barbarously drowned. And those that could swim and came to the shore they knocked on the head and so after, drowned them. Or else they were shot to death in the water.”
The Depositions are the collected witness testimony of the 1641 Rising. They were collected by a government commission shortly after the Rising began.
Professor Nick Campbell, of the Centre for Language and Communication Studies is my supervisor on this project. He comments, “In the Depositions, we have this document which is beautiful, which is historically situated and which is immensely important in terms of Irish history and English history.”
The focus of my research is to render the 1641 Depositions into speech. I have to discover who the people in the Depositions were, where they came from and how they might have spoken. Once we’ve established how they might have spoken, with the aid of modern technology we’ll look to make their world come alive – to make them come alive – through speech.
The lab in Trinity College’s Centre for Language and Communication Studies has the technology to take a page and render the text into speech. The challenge with the 1641 Depositions is in deciding what way to use this technology. Should the emphasis be on historical accuracy? In which case, what did people in 17 th Century Ireland talk like? Many of these people came originally from Scotland or North-West England, but may have lived in Ireland for up to 30 years, in which case their speech would have changed. Even if I can discover how they might have talked, it will be a challenge to bring their speech patterns to life with existing technology.
This is what I will attempt to achieve in the course of my PhD.