"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

19 March 2018

Vast online resource for Irish folklore, customs, and superstitions

A new online resource is now available that anyone interested in Irish folklore, customs, and superstitions will be eager to peruse. It can be found at https://www.duchas.ie/en/tpc/cbes.

The National (Irish) Folklore Collection has digitized more than 100,000 pages of material known as the Schools' Collection, collected by more than 100,000 children between the years of 1937 and 1939. Children were tasked with finding the oldest person in their communities to discover the "darkest, oddest and weirdest traditional beliefs, secrets and customs". There are stories and recollections here covering every conceivable belief from fairies and leprechauns to witches and banshees and more. There are more than 3000 entries referring to butter and churns, more than 12,000 on folk medicine, and references to such individuals as the Hag of Beara, Fionn MacCumhaill, Brigid, and Myles the Slasher.

Searching the archive is helped by the division of the material into topics or categories such as "activities", "agents", "events", "genre", and "objects" among others. Look up "shoes", for example, and you'll find more than a 1000 results. Each entry consists of a digitized copy of the original handwritten account as well as the author, his or her age, and their home county.

The Schools' Collection is an ongoing project with a team of volunteers continuing to scan and digitize more than 700,000 pages of material.

In reporting on this treasure trove, the Irish Times suggests that on this St Patrick's Day, instead of waving a shamrock or downing a pint of Guinness or two, why not "consider delving into this vast online knowledge bank of national consciousness from a time when ambiguity still played a key role in life and when the unbroken connection back to Pagan times was still strong and clear." I couldn't agree more. In fact, I may do both.

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Discover the Schools' Collection of Irish folklore, customs, and superstitions at https://www.duchas.ie/en/tpc/cbes


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