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Schools’ Folklore Scheme (1937-38)

In 1937 the Irish Folklore Commission, in collaboration with the Department of Education and the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, initiated a revolutionary scheme in which schoolchildren were encouraged to collect and document folklore and local history.
Over a period of eighteen months some 100,000 children in 5,000 primary schools in the twenty-six counties of the Irish Free State were encouraged to collect folklore material in their home districts. The topics about which the children were instructed to research and write included local history and monuments, folktales and legends, riddles and proverbs, songs, customs and beliefs, games and pastimes, traditional work practices and crafts, etc. The children collected this material mainly from their parents and grandparents and other older members of the local community or school district. Now known as the Schools' Manuscript Collection, the scheme resulted in more than half a million manuscript pages of valuable material.

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Dancing master and noted storyteller, Séan Mhichíl Grumail Children in the home of storyteller Mrs Brigid McGinty Children at play

Two sub-collections of digitized content from this unique collection are hosted by The Irish Virtual Research Library & Archive (IVRLA)

  • 1) Five complete volumes (around 700 essays) of the Schools’ Collection from schools in the Carna and Ballinasloe districts of County Galway. The Irish Virtual Research Library & Archive (IVRLA)
  • 2) Approximately 2,400 essays on the topic of “My Home District”, topographical descriptions of their own locality which schoolchildren were encouraged to write. These will shortly be available on-line

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Illustration of children receiving milk
National Folklore Collection