What a Treasure Trove - the National Schools Collection of Ireland

Across the Republic of Ireland in 1937 and 1938, teachers asked schoolchildren to select from 55 subject areas on which to write. Following its completion and collection by the Irish Folklore Commission more than 1700 topics were accumulated! And some of the topics and accompanying collected writings - absolutely fascinating!

Here is how the Commission identified the core topics:

  1. Activities - this ranges from the more common activities say like candle-making, entertainment, with many cures and remedies. A bit more on the unique side: elf-shot which was a disease burdened by cattle and farcy, an ailment suffered by horses.

  2. Agents - this represented individuals from landlords to robbers, and included secret societies and well known figures - and a few tales on the banshees.

  3. Events - included well known feasts, saint days, holidays through to accounts of shipwrecks, plagues and epidemics - and Days of the Brindled Cow which carried 51 entries.

  4. Genre - under this topic children included poetry, glossaries, religious tales, riddles, proverbs and more.

  5. Objects - a whole range: clothing, residential buildings, graveyards - and 6,740 entries on historical and commemorative structures alone!

  6. Place-Space Equipment - centered on land management, spiritual, fairy forts and local lore.

  7. Processes and Phenomenons - covered natural occurrences and events, namely weather with references to winds, frost and snow, thunderstorms.

  8. Products - food focused with bread representing the largest mention in this category (2,107 accounts)

  9. Time - highlights happenings at key date junctures and includes 638 references of the 1798 rebellion and 3,947 to the famine.

While the reads are incredibly fascinating - there is a possibility that content you find within this collection could help you with your research. Indirectly the information could provide context to a point in time of history and location of your ancestors, however directly what if there was reference to a natural event that impacted the area where your ancestors were? Or a description of a home or an area that provided additional insights into an area your researching.

Curious? Thought so! Check out the National Folklore Collection here.