Irish Folklore Collected by Schoolchildren in the 1930s

 

“Crom Dubh” Head in Churchyard, Clochán, Cloghane, Co. Kerry. Photo by Caoimhín Ó Danachair. F025.18.00338. www.duchas.ie. CC-BY-NC 4.0

In the 1930s, schoolchildren in Ireland set out to write down local folklore, history, and mythology, like the story of Crom Dubh.  Ireland’s National Folklore Collection has now put a massive collection of these Irish folktales and oral history online.

Approximately 740,000 pages (288,000 pages in the pupils’ original exercise books; 451,000 pages in bound volumes) of folklore and local tradition were compiled by pupils from 5,000 primary schools in the Irish Free State between 1937 and 1939.
This collecting scheme was initiated by the Irish Folklore Commission, under the direction of Séamus Ó Duilearga and Séan Ó Súilleabháin … For the duration of the project, more than 50,000 schoolchildren from 5,000 schools in the 26 counties of the Irish Free State were enlisted to collect folklore in their home districts. This included oral history, topographical information, folktales and legends, riddles and proverbs, games and pastimes, trades and crafts. The children recorded this material from their parents, grandparents, and neighbours.

Read some of the stories (and admire the handwriting) at The Editors’ Picks, or search the entire Schools’ Collection.

Circa 4,500 year old Trackway in Ireland?

Around the same time native Americans were living at the Lamoka Lake site, Celts in Ireland were building a trackway, or wooden road, over the bogs near Galway Bay. That’s based on an estimated date between 3,500 and 4,500 years ago; it appears no radiocarbon dating has been conducted yet.

Discoverer Alan Keogh “had heard about the drowned forest and recognised the significance of what appeared to be a ‘symmetrical structure’ below a line of peat.”

According to Geologist Mike Williams “It could have been built during the late Neolithic or early Bronze age era, and may have been ceremonial or may have been built across wetland which was decaying forest, forming into bog.”

Another wooden artifact, the Bearna canoe, was found in the same part of Ireland several years ago and has been dated to 4,740 years ago.

“The canoe was freshwater, and these people used them for fishing and as a form of transport – like our stand-up paddle-boards.”

The Irish Times