Traditions across Europe-an eTwinning project

“Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, TRADITION and myth frame our response.” (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.)

Gathering Folklore in Ireland November 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — stbrendans @ 8:10 pm

In 1937 a major project was undertaken in Irish primary schools to preserve the folklore and traditions throughout the country. Pupils from 5th and 6th classes (aged 11-14) were asked to collect  the traditional cures, prayers, proverbs, curses and local history from their parents and grandparents. This was then written in special copybooks in school and transferred to the National Archives in Dublin for preservation. Over 5,000 pupils took part in the project and a vast collection of folklore was preserved for future generations. In 2010 the  Irish National television station R.T.E. decided to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the folklore commission with a series of programmes called Ó Bhéal go Béal. (From Mouth to Mouth) In the third programme four people were interviewed who had taken part in the project in 1937-38 when they were in primary school. Now in their eighties, these four people were shown the manuscripts which they had carefully written down 72 years previously. One of the people interviewed was Criostóir Ó Tuama, who was principal of our school in Newmarket from 1953 to 1988. Mr Ó Tuama had collected the folklore from his grandmother who was 96 at the time. Mr. Ó Tuama is a native Irish speaker from Ballyvourney in West Cork and his description of the prayers and sayings of his grandmother was recalled with great clarity. The programme was beautifully made and the four people interviewed provided a wonderful description of their schooldays and the rural Ireland of the 1930’s.

You can watch the programme here:



4 Responses to “Gathering Folklore in Ireland”

  1. Marie-France Says:

    Collecting such material by kids is a grand project. Passing on to younger generations their fathers’heritage, what a great idea 🙂 🙂

    I would have liked to watch the R.T.E programme but it got lost somewhere 😉

    • stbrendans Says:

      Thanks for your comment Marie. The link to the programme is working now.

      • Marie-France Says:

        A great privilege to be able to watch that programme. It brought back hundreds of memories . My parents were the same age as these people remembering their families and collecting info about the old days gone by.
        The passage on curses made me smile 🙂 Very similar restraint here in Brittany when prononcing the curses, never to the end 🙂 No need, everybody knew it 🙂

        The second extract that caught my attention, was the women’s condition in those days. Staying at home at a very early age to help out on the farm. My own mother always regretted not to be able to carry on at school, having to get married at an early age. Decided she wouldn’t have more than 2 kids 🙂 because the previous generation had a whole string of children. My grandpa went to war in Turkey during WWI and when he came back, 6 years later, he had brothers and sisters he didn’t know about- he was the eldest and was sent to war at 17:-(-

        And … the passage on the Irish potato famine in Ireland in the middle of the XIXth century; my , my! Never talked about as they felt guilty 😦

        Thank you very much, Tom. I feel close to your people.

  2. Intéressant programme je ne connaissais pas ce site, interesting blog

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