Tuesday, 2 December 2014

County Leitrim stories added to Schools Collection

Digitisation work has continued at the National Folklore Collection with the upload of County Leitrim to the online Schools Collection at

This county's collection comprises stories collected from 145 schools under a project run across the 26 counties of the Irish Free State in 1937–39. The pupils collected stories – topics included folk legends, weather lore, local history, proverbs, pastimes, trades and crafts – from their local communities, and recorded the names of their informants, often grandparents or older members of their family or neighbours.

You can find out more about the Schools Collection in this earlier blogpost which I wrote following a visit to the National Folklore Collection at UCD.

An Irish Surnames Index has also been added to the Duchas website. It is a database of 2,810 surnames developed from work carried out by the Irish Folklore Commission in the 1930s, when local, non-standardised versions of surnames were collected. It does not claim to be a comprehensive list of the surnames of Ireland (which is just as well, since my surname doesn't appear in it!) nor an authoritive spelling guide to Irish surnames.

While there is no surviving account of the criteria followed in selecting advised versions or recognising related versions of a surname, it is assumed that the Commission's scholarly team would have conducted extensive research before making its choices.

The variation of surnames from area to area, or even from household to household, is significant. The surname Cafferky provides a good example, with the following variations recorded: O’Cafferky, McCafferky, McCafferty, Mac Eachmharcaigh, Ceafarcaigh, Ó Ceamharcaigh, Ó Ceafarcaigh, Cafferkey and Mac Ceamharcaigh.