Donegal TD Joe McHugh was left astonished today when introduced to folklore tales from his own parish recorded way back in 1937.

The copy books of children who attended Gleann National School record folklore tales from the time including ancient yarns about the area.

The stories, written in perfect Irish, are part of the National Folklore Collection at University College Dublin. Minister McHugh visited the archives today to announce the collection has been given world heritage status by UNESCO. He also sanctioned funding of €100,000 to continue work putting the collection online at duchas.ie.

Minister of State, Joe McHugh

The archives from Glen were shown to the Donegal TD by UCD President Criostóir Mac Cárthaigh.

“It was incredible to see the names of pupils on the front of these copy books in the old national school in Glen and then to open them and read the ancient folklore stories that were alive in the parish at the time,” said Minister McHugh.

“There are tales of ghosts and tales of fairies on the road to Creeslough, and loads of other folklore tales from the time. The project at UCD is incredible and it is a collection so important that UNESCO has given it this protection status. Recordings of Donegal fiddler Mickey Doherty are also part of the wide-ranging collection.

“The National Folklore Collection UCD is one of Europe’s largest archives of oral tradition and cultural history and has received recognition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for its foundational collection—The Irish Folklore Commission Collection 1935-1970—which has been inscribed on the prestigious UNESCO Memory of the World International Register.”

Established in 1992 to recognise documentary heritage deemed by experts to be of “outstanding significance” to world culture, the Register has recognized only one other Irish entry to date, the Book of Kells which was inscribed in 2011. The Register comprises a total of 427 documents and collections worldwide, including the Magna Carta, the Diary of Anne Frank, and the Bayeux Tapestry.

Minister McHugh also announced that his Department would be allocating funding of €100,893 to the Dúchas.ie project for 2018.  The Dúchas project is the result of a partnership, beginning in 2012, between the National Folklore Collection in UCD, UCD Digital Library and Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge, the Irish-medium teaching and research unit in DCU.  The objective of the project is to digitize the National Folklore Collection and make it available to the public online.

Minister McHugh added: "I am delighted that the National Folklore Collection has been awarded UNESCO Memory of the World status.  This award provides due recognition of the importance of the collection, not just here in Ireland, but internationally as well.

“The archive which was assembled assiduously by the Irish Folklore Commission is one of the largest of its kind, comprising several thousand manuscript volumes of transcriptions, some 80,000 photographs and more than 10,000 hours of audio recordings. All of this work was carried out during a period in our history when profound language, social and cultural change was taking place. The collection therefore forms a unique record of Irish cultural life, society, the verbal arts and music.  Many significant elements of the collection have been digitized and published on the Dúchas.ie website in recent years.

“I recently had the pleasure of launching the new dúchas.ie website, along with the most recent collection, the Photographic Collection. I know that the Photographic Collection, which provides a new perspective on Ireland’s rich and varied heritage with thousands of photographs from across the country, has been immensely popular, with many users coming from Britain, the USA, Australia and Canada, as well as many other countries.  I am delighted that my Department will be able to provide funding of €100,893 to continue this project next year.”

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