Establishment and History
The Irish Dialect Archives, established in 1953 by Tomás de Bhaldraithe, are an unparalleled linguistic and lexicographical resource. They contain unique manuscripts and documents including the works and correspondence of many writers, collectors and scholars. From 1979 to 1986 Tomás de Bhaldraithe was the UCD Professor of Irish Dialectology, a position part-funded by the Royal Irish Academy.
These Archives were instrumental in the important work carried out in dialectology and lexicography in Irish, and were also, in the 1970s, engaged in pioneering computational lexicography. The work included:
- de Bhaldraithe’s English-Irish Dictionary (1959) ;
- Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla Uí Dhónaill (1977) - de Bhaldraithe was consultant editor
- technical dictionaries from the Department of Education
The Archives contains circa 500,000 dictionary entries in the form of cards. These cards formed the basis for a number of dictionaries, both general and academic, including 15,000 Irish head words taken from a Latin-Irish dictionary handwritten by Risteard Pluincéad in 1662. The cards are organised into c. 60 collections, which are stored in boxes and categorised according to author, and location.
The De Bhaldraithe Card Collection consists of 33 boxes and each box contains approximately 2,000 cards. Most of the cards are stored alphabetically and contain information regarding Irish words and phrases. The majority of cards are handwritten, and contain phonetic information with the title word given as well as one or several examples of usage. In some cases detailed cards contain the title word, its meaning, gender, part of speech and examples of usage.
Tomás Laighléis Card Collection consists of32 boxes, and each box contains approximately 1,000 cards. This collection provides information on Irish words and phrases, but unlike De Bhaldraithe's collection which focuses mainly on phonetics, this collection gives many and, in some cases, very lengthy examples of word and phrase usage in Irish. All the cards are handwritten.
In addition to these examples, among the 60 collections gathered orally are works provided by many of the most famous lexicographers, folklore collectors, writers, scholars and professional translators in Ireland, including Seán Ó Ruadháin, Pilib Ó Foghludha, Seán Ó hEochaidh, Seosamh Ó Dálaigh, Pádraig Ua Maoleoin, Séamas Ó Maolchathaigh.
Among the documents and other items stored in the Irish Dialects Archives deserving a special mention are the following original manuscripts:
- Stair na mBlascaodaí: Beag agus Mór by Tomás Ó Criomhthain (1930),
- Seanchas Chléire by Conchubhair Ó Síothcháin (1939);
- a 12-volume unpublished English-Irish and Scottish Gaelic Dictionary by Liam Mac Giolla (1953);
- Seán Ó Dálaigh's Dún Chaoin memoirs;
- Donncha S. Ó Drisceoil's Cléire diaries - These provided material for his regular column in the Irish Times and excerpts from them were published in book format entitled Aistí ó Chléire (1987).
The family of the late Tomás de Bhaldraithe gifted his personal papers and research notes to the Archives. These documents include correspondence with poets, writers, scholars, leaders of the Irish language movement and other public figures, for example, Professor Cormac Ó Cadhla, Eric Mac Fhinn, Dónall Mac Amhlaigh, Tomás Ó Máille, Máirtín Ó Flaithbheartaigh, Míchéal Ó Maoláin, Eoin McKiernan, Colm Ó Gaora, Míchéal Ó Siochfhradha, Máire Mhac an tSaoi, Máirtín Ó Direáin, Eibhlín Ní Bhriain and Seosamh Dáibhéid.
Three collections from the Irish Dialect Archives are digitised, two of which are accessible via the UCD Digital Library:
1. B26 'Seanchas, cuimhní cinn' by Seán Ó Dálaigh of Dún Chaoin (Dunquin), Co. Kerry (link) is a hand-written manuscript. This collection also includes correspondence relating to the manuscript's provenance and some material relating to Seán Ó Dálaigh. The manuscript was given by the author to Cornelius Duane, School Inspector in around 1947. Duane attempted to publish the manuscript and made editorial annotations to it. In 1978, the manuscript was presented to Professor Tomás de Bhaldraithe of the Irish Dialect Archive by Fionnuala Duane, daughter of Cornelius Duane. B26 contains 10 Objects with 599 parts.
2. B30 'Stair na mBlascaodaí, beag agus mór' by Tomás Ó Criomhthain of the Great Blasket Island, Co. Kerry (link) is a hand-written manuscript, with the author's annotations. Note, pagination or reading order of this material is out of sequence. B30 contains 1 Object with 104 parts
- Audio tapes, some of which were recorded by Professor Hans Hartmann in the 1960s, and accompanying correspondence and transcriptions;
- Concordance compiled by former Archive staff on part of the published works of Ó Criomhthain, Ó Cadhain, Ó Conaire, Mac Grianna, Ó Céileachair and other authors;
- Collection of books donated in 1973 by Éamon de Valera, President of Ireland (1959 – 1973), to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Irish Dialect Archives.
- Selection of early 20th Century music scores
- Early 20th century pamphlets
- Illustrated children's books in Irish.
- Digital content & microfilms
Cartlann na gCanúintí Clár Faisnéise - Marion Gunn (Finding Aid - PDF)