The Schools’ Collection
Approximately 740,000 pages (288,000 pages in the pupils’ original exercise books; 451,000 pages in bound volumes) of folklore and local tradition were compiled by pupils from 5,000 primary schools in the Irish Free State between 1937 and 1939.
The children were given topics to explore with their families and neighbours and all the copies were saved. They are now digitised and available on duchas.ie.
Askamore, Ballyellis, Ballyroebuck and Kilrush schools were involved and their stories in their original copies are available to read and search online. Just go to Co. Wexford, and look for the local schools – or any school or story you may be interested in.
You can also search the stories by looking for specific people, topics or places.
It also allows you to look for different spellings of surnames which may help in the search.
There are over 120 pages in the Askamore archive, but only 2% are transcribed. However, the handwriting is so good that they are easily read.
If you would like to help transcribe these pages you can register to be part of Meitheal Dúchas. Look on the website for details.
It was originally to run from 1937 to 1938 but was extended to 1939 in specific cases. For the duration of the project, more than 50,000 schoolchildren from 5,000 schools in the 26 counties of the Irish Free State were enlisted to collect folklore in their home districts. This included oral history, topographical information, folktales and legends, riddles and proverbs, games and pastimes, trades and crafts. The children recorded this material from their parents, grandparents, and neighbours.
The scheme resulted in the creation of over half a million manuscript pages, generally referred to as ‘Bailiúchán na Scol’ or ‘The Schools’ Collection’.
There are 1,128 volumes, numbered and bound, in the Collection. A title page prefaces each school, giving the name of the school, the parish, the barony, the county and the teacher. A further collection of approximately 40,000 of the children’s original copybooks are stored at the NFC.