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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Company founded to protect Ireland's folklore heritage

NFF Chairman Cathal Goan with board members
Dr Kelly Fitzgerald and Professor Ríonach uí Ógáin
A new company, the National Folklore Foundation (NFF), has been established with a mission to protect, preserve and promote Ireland's outstanding National Folklore Collection.

The latter is held in trust by University College Dublin and is one of the largest folklore collections in the world. It runs to 3million pages in manuscript form and represents the voices of 100,000 contributors, including 10,000 hours of audio recordings, 70,000 photographs and 1,000 hours of moving images, and tells the story of Irish life, folk history and culture.

Essentially, the NFF will provide the National Folklore Collection with the champion it has long needed. A primary objective will be to increase public awareness of Irish folklore and develop greater interest in it, and its fundraising role will enable the Collection to be enhanced and extended with new Irish folklore material. It will also allow new and current material to be published and disseminated nationally and internationally. This should mean that, in time, we'll be seeing more digitisation and more material appearing on Dúchas.ie.

Dúchas.ie was quietly launched just over a year ago with a first tranche of the Schools' Manuscript Collection freely viewable. This allowed visitors to the site the opportunity to read on-screen some 64,000 pages of handwritten folklore recorded by schoolchildren in counties Dublin, Mayo, Donegal and Waterford in the late 1930s. Since then, this online collection has been increased with children's stories from counties Galway and Leitrim; all can be searched by name and parish.

Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh, senior archivist at the National Folklore Collection, told Irish Genealogy News that the digitisation team is now working on the pages written by pupils in Co Kerry. In addition, with an agreed list of around 4,000 keywords (search vocabulary) now in place, the Topics search facility should go live this summer.

The National Folklore Foundation is a spin-out from UCD's School of Irish Celtic Studies, Irish Folklore and Linguistics.