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Clare Folklore
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Customs, Lore and Legend of Other Clare Days:
Department of Irish Folklore & the Schools' Scheme

The establishment of An Cumann le Béaloideas Éireann (The Folklore of Ireland Society) in 1927 represented the first step towards a better state of affairs in terms of recording the oral traditions of the people. Until the society came into being the whole enterprise of collecting Irish folklore could, according to one commentator, be compared to haphazard diving - "in the process of which some golden coins were found more or less by chance - rather than to anything like a systematic treasure hunt". From the very beginning the society published an annual journal - Béaloideas - devoted exclusively to folklore, with Ó Duilearga as editor. The society remained a voluntary body until 1930 when the Irish Folklore Institute was set up with the aid of a government grant. After a few years the need for a bigger and better equipped organisation was felt and in 1935 the government established Coimisiún Béaloideasa Éireann, the Irish Folklore Commission, with Ó Duilearga as honorary director. That body was responsible for the collection, preservation, classification, study and exposition of all aspects of Irish folk tradition until 1971 when it was replaced by the Department of Irish Folklore and incorporated into University College Dublin.

The 'Schools' Scheme'
The Schools' Scheme, as it is popularly known, represented the biggest folklore collecting scheme ever mounted anywhere in the world. It was devised by Séamus Ó Duilearga and Seán Ó Suilleabháin of the Folklore Commission and carried out in 1937-38 in co-operation with the Department of Education and the Irish National Teachers' Organisation. Over a period of eighteen months almost one hundred-thousand children in five thousand primary schools were involved in seeking out and setting down for posterity material dealing with a wide range of Irish folk tradition. The material included folk-tales and folk legends, riddles and proverbs, songs, customs and beliefs. Games and pastimes as well as traditional work practices and crafts and many other topics were covered. The children collected this material mainly from their parents and grandparents and other older members of the local community or school district. The result of the scheme was the Schools' Manuscript Collection which extends to more than half-a-million manuscript pages. The returns from each county are available under licence on microfilm in most of the respective county libraries. The material returned for Co. Clare runs to approximately sixteen thousand pages and it is of immense importance to local historians.

Boher Boys National School, 1938
Boher Boys National School, 1938

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