Another link to our past has been made more accessible following the launch of the online index for the Leitrim Schools Folklore Project 1937/36.
Fifteen original authors, who wrote stories about their area in 1937/38 gathered in Ballinamore County Library last Wednesday, July 29 for the launch of the online index on the Leitrim library webpage.
The Leitrim Schools Folklore Collection is an important history resource with beautiful, creative and first person accounts of traditions, culture and local history from almost 80 years ago.
The Folklore Commission set up by Eamon DeVelara aimed to collect folklores, local histories and information about the area in an effort to record valuable information, some of it from the famine era. Teachers were instructed to tell their pupils to “remember that if they do not record the material it will die and be forgotten as if it had never been.” Subjects included hidden treasures, weather lore, local heroes, old schools, old crafts & customs, local place names, cures, the travelling folk, games and toys, famine times, patron saints, fair days, landlords, songs, monuments and historical traditions.
A large number of relatives of people who wrote in the Leitrim Folklore project gathered to represent their family.
One of the authors Isobella Johnston (nee Spotting) wrote a story when she was a pupil in Killygar NS. She said she did not recall writing the piece but remembers school fondly. She said she was born, reared and still lives in the same area. She said school was very different back then, but she said “I never remember getting slapped.”
Many of the authors I spoke to, remembered their school days with a smile, and enjoyed their time there. 94 year old Eileen Casey said she remembers writing the stories and enjoyed working on the project as it took over from the normal subjects for a while.
Mary Conefrey, Assistant Librarian and head of Local Studies in the county library said the folklore project had been “under utilised” as a resource on local places and people. She said a lot of people were involved in the index process and thanked them all
International singer Eleanor Shanley launched the online index saying “the old ways are the best!” She said tribute must be paid to those who set up the project in 1937, adding it “keeps us in touch with our past.” Eleanor’s mother Eileen Casey read her story which was about old schools in the Cloone area. Des Quinn, Seamus McTague and Mary Conefrey read stories which their relatives had written about St Mogue, The Battle of Ballinamuck and old schools.
The online index is available on Leitrim libraries page on leitrimcoco.ie
The Leitrim Observer has previously published items from the Leitrim Folklore Project, and hopes to continue publishing these beautiful stories, so keep an eye out!