The School’s Folklore Project of 1937-1938 represented one of the greatest drives ever undertaken in the field of folklore collecting. Over a period of eighteen months, almost 100,000 children, aged eleven to fourteen, in 5,000 primary schools throughout the twenty six counties were involved in seeking out and setting down for posterity material dealing with a wide range of Irish folk tradition. This investigation embraced folk tales and folk legends, riddles and proverbs, songs, customs and beliefs. Games and pastimes as well as descriptions of traditional work practices and crafts – e.g. the manufacture of homemade toys – and many other topics were covered. The children collected this material, mainly from their parents and grandparents and older members of the local community or school district and compiled handwritten essays based on the information gathered. This was cooperation between the Department of Irish Folklore, the Department of Education, teachers in primary schools, pupils and the wider community.
There was a booklet of the guidelines and subject headings to be followed and the Leitrim pages of this fascinating material in the original handwritten format are stored at the Department of Irish Folklore at U.C.D., Dublin. However, they are also preserved on microfilm at the County Library in Ballinamore and are easily accessible for all who wish to view them during Library opening hours. Over the past number of years an index to these essays has been created and the index is now fully searchable.
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