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 information collected across Ireland is available here:

This collecting scheme was initiated by the Irish Folklore Commission, under the direction of Séamus Ó Duilearga and Séan Ó Súilleabháin, Honorary Director and Registrar of the Commission respectively, and was heavily dependent on the cooperation of the Department of Education and the Irish National Teachers’ Organization. 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.

Fortunately, three local primary schools made valuable contributions to this rich resource.  Ballinorley under the supervision of Principal, Mrs Anna Ewing contributed 164 pages of text; Calry contributed 145 pages under the supervision of Principal, Róisín Mhig Ualghairg who dated the submissions from September 1937 up to July 1938; and Dunally contributed 103 pages signed off on by Principal, Florence Egan, giving a grand total of 412 pages from the Calry area.schools. The stories recorded by the pupils are varied and interesting. Drumcashel N.S. had already closed by the time of the ‘Schools’ Collection’ project and its pupils are to be found under Calry N.S.

The contributions made by the schools can be accessed at the following links.

After selecting a school link, simply scroll through the essays by clicking on the page numbers in sequence.