1930s Children’s Folk Tales Now Online


During 1937 and 1938 a project was undertaken by the Irish Folklore Commission in collaboration with the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, whereby some 50,000 school children recorded over 500,000 pages of material in 26 counties across the country of Irish folklore of the day. The digitisation of all this material in an initiative called Dúchas is to be made available to the general public.

At the time children were asked to gather material on folktales and legends, monuments, riddles and proverbs, songs, customs and beliefs, games and pastimes and traditional work practices and crafts. Dúchas has focused on 4 counties, one from each province Dublin, Mayo, Donegal and Waterford and made available 64,000 pages of hand-written material drawn down from the National Folklore Collection. Professor Peter Clinch UCD Vice-President for Innovation said, “Dúchas.ie is opening up of the riches of the National Folklore Collection in an innovative and accessible way to a national and international audience and will allow visitors to engage dynamically with the collection’s material.”

Called The Schools Collection, the children gathered this information mainly from their parents, grandparents and locality. One such story recorded by Molly Ryan from St. Mary’s in Donnybrook tells us skulls were discovered on Ailesbury Road in 1879 “behind some newly erected houses”. According to the story the mound of bones is believed to be the result of a Viking raid along the coast. As well as the heap of slain men, women and children, the discovery contained the remains of one warrior with his swords , spear and two women at his feet. This hand written tale and more can be read online at www.Duchas.ie.

The new website was officially launched at UCD on 18th of December 2013 by Dinny McGinley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. It is a study of our customs, traditions, language and people which gives an insight from the point of view of the children in communities. It is a significant project undertaken by UCD and will be a rich resource of information about our past and our national identity.

Pictured at NovaUCD, University College Dublin, is Dinny McGinley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht where he officially launched Dúchas.ie, a new Irish folklore repository.

By Leeza Kane