Irish Folklore Commission

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Irish Folklore Commission (Coimisiún Béaloideasa Éireann in Irish) was set up in 1935 by the Irish Government to study and collect information on the folklore and traditions of Ireland.[1]


The Irish Folklore Commission was founded and directed by James Hamilton Delargy, and concluded in 1971. Its roles were superseded by the Department of Irish Folklore in University College, Dublin which has since served as a repository of the data collected, including the Irish Folklore Collection.

During its time, the extensive collecting by the Commission caught the attention of many foreign scholars. With greater recognition, Delargy's vision for the Commission grew and around the 1950s many scholars were participating by contributing to collections and research.

The Commission was also closely involved with locals, especially Irish-speaking districts. They distributed questionnaires and used media outlets to inform the general public of the Commission. The commission also helped make recordings of the people who, at that time, were the last native speakers of Manx Gaelic on the Isle of Man which was declining in the 1960s but has been enjoying a revival since then.[2]

Collectors & Collections of the Commission[edit]

With funding at a limit, the Commission was often limited to six to nine collectors. While graduate and university students could be of great help, the Commission was focused on Ireland's diverse populations. They went to fisherman, primary teachers, as well as professional collectors with the idea that "anyone who does go among the people must go among them as one of themselves and have no high-faluting nonsense about them". [3]

Among the Irish Folklore Commission's collections are written interviews recorded between 1937 and 1939. Known collectively as The School's Collection, these interviews were conducted by more than 50,000 school children from all primary schools in the South of Ireland. The 1,128 volumes include written accounts are sorted of daily life as well as regional folklore and stories as told by the interviewees.[4] This was instigated by Seán Ó Súilleabháin and Séamus Ó Duilearga, who publicized the scheme and explained to teachers what folklore was and how to properly collect it.[1] They met with principal teachers, who then explained to the children how to collect the folklore for the collection. From September to June, each week the teacher would choose a heading and read out the questions, and the children would copy it down and question their family members and neighbors. In June 1939, Ó Duilearga stated in his annual report that there were collectively 375,660 pages of books from the schools.

The Irish Folklore Commission also made an effort to collect folk music and song. A gramophone was presented to Duilearga although they found that it was not adapted to their work of collecting dialects and music due to difficulties receiving parts from America or England. After this discovery, collectors had to get used to working with pen and paper to collect the music. [3]

Dúchas Project[edit]

The Dúchas Project was founded by Falls Community Council in 1999, in order to collect experiences and stories of conflict. They imagined it as a tool for learning and conflict resolution in the future. [5]

The Dúchas Project is an online crowdsourcing effort to digitize and transcribe the National Folklore Collection in order to make it accessible and searchable worldwide. Based online, the project includes (1) both digitized and transcribed volumes of the collection; (2) a search feature to find people, topics, and places mentioned in the collections; (4) an index of Irish surnames, and (5) numerous historical photographs.[6]

Transcriptions of the collection are crowdsourced from around the world, and volunteers transcribe pages from the journal, allowing each page transcribed to become searchable from within the page itself and via internet search databases.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Briody Mícheál. The Irish Folklore Commission: 1935-1970: History, Ideology, Methodology. Finnish Literature Society, 2007
  2. ^ A day in the life of the Bunscoill Ghaelgagh
  3. ^ a b Briody, Michael (2007). The Irish Folklore Commission 1935-1970. Helsinski: Finnish Literature Society. p. 278.
  4. ^ "National Folklore Collection (NFC) and its collections". The Dúchas Project. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  5. ^ "HISTORY". Dúchas Oral History Archive. 2014-10-16. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  6. ^ "Digitization of the National Folklore Collection Brochure" (PDF). September 22, 2018. Retrieved September 22, 2018.

External links[edit]