The audio interviews in the archives of the urban community-based Cork Folklore Project provide a composite and multi-layered narrative representation of life in Cork City from the 1930s to the present day. More than 500 interviews carried out over twenty years, in an organisation where such research is carried out as one strand of changing iterations of a social inclusion initiative, present a resource for thematic and methodological enquiry that is unusual in its time-depth, scale, richness of voice and ethnographic nature. This paper explores how such a resource can support multiple and varied strands of investigation into the relationship between people and place. Using examples from the archives, it examines how different styles of ethnographic interviewing, all with an emphasis on openness of enquiry, can shape the material generated in unexpected ways. It shares some of the lessons that we are learning about the ongoing generation of a large body of qualitative material relating to physical, social and cultural landscapes, all with an eye both to current social engagement and to resource generation and preservation that is mindful of archival timescales. It shares some of the themes and people that have arisen, unbidden, from open place-based interviews, and asks what enduring value this ‘slow’ approach to cultural investigation, so rare in the current research and funding landscape, may have long-term.