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Launch of New Irish folklore Repository

On 18 December 2013, Dinny McGinley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has officially launched Dúchas.ie (www.duchas.ie), a new Irish folklore repository, at an event held at NovaUCD, University College Dublin (UCD).

Dúchas.ie currently features some 64,000 pages of hand-written folklore and local history recorded in 1937-38 by Irish schoolchildren in counties Dublin, Mayo, Donegal and Waterford.

This original material, digitised for Dúchas.ie in a project funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, is part of the Schools’ Manuscript Collection. This material, part of the National Folklore Collection at UCD, comprises in excess of 500,000 pages of material recorded by some 50,000 school children in over 5,000 schools in 26 participating counties.

At the event Minister McGinley TD also announced €1.75 million of new funding jointly provided by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and UCD.

This funding, running from 2014-2016, will fund the main phase of digitising of the National Folklore Collection including the remaining Schools’ Manuscript Collection material.

The additional funding for this project, which is supported by the UCD Office of the Vice-President for Innovation, will enable new material to be added to Dúchas.ie on a phased basis.

The National Folklore Collection at UCD is one of the largest folklore collections in the world. The Collection comprises ca. 2 million manuscript pages, ca. 500,000 index cards, ca. 12,000 hours of sound recordings, ca. 80,000 photographs and ca. 1000 hours of video material.

Speaking at the launch of Dúchas.ie Minister McGinley TD said, “Folklore allows for fresh insights and interpretation regarding our culture. I am delighted to be here at NovaUCD to officially launch Dúchas.ie which will enable Irish heritage and culture to be disseminated to a global audience allowing for a deeper understanding of the definition of society. This is an innovative project bringing together the old and the new in a way which allows for long-term possibilities regarding the understanding of our tradition.”

He added, “At present Dúchas.ie contains material from 4 counties, representing the 4 provinces, including the primary school I attended in Donegal. I am delighted to announce today new funding of €1.75 million jointly from my Department and UCD over the next 3-years to continue with the digitisation of the National Folklore Collection, including further material from the Schools’ Manuscript Collection.”

He concluded, “This project is the result of an extremely successful partnership and co-operation between the National Folklore Collection at UCD, Fiontar, DCU, my Department and the UCD Office of the Vice-President for Innovation and I wish everyone involved every success with the next phase of the project.”

The launch of Dúhas.ie is the result of a partnership formed originally in 2012 between the National Folklore Collection, UCD, Fiontar, DCU and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The objective of the partnership is to digitise the National Folklore Collection, a major Irish cultural resource, to facilitate greater public access to it, and to establish a data management system in place for the Collection to which other material can be added in future.

Professor Peter Clinch UCD Vice-President for Innovation said, “UCD is delighted to be jointly funding the next phase of this exciting Dúchas.ie project. Dúchas.ie is opening up of the riches of the National Folklore Collection at UCD in an innovative and accessible way to a national and international audience and will allow visitors to engage dynamically with the Collection’s material. The launch of Dúchas.ie, along with the additional funding to allow further digitisation of this vast and unique Collection, will help to position UCD as one of the largest providers of online folklore material globally and will enhance UCD’s international position and reputation in the arts and cultural arenas.”

Professor RÁonach uÁ Á“gáin, UCD School of Irish, Celtic Studies, Irish Folklore and Linguistics and the Director of the National Folklore Collection at UCD said, “I have spent almost forty years working with the National Folklore Collection and the fact that it is on the road to digitisation and global access represents the fulfilment of a long term vision. The true potential of the project will only be realised in future decades and cannot be fully imagined today.”

Dr Ciarán Mac Murchaidh, Head of School at Fiontar, DCU said, “Our goal is really rather simple, the dissemination of the wealth of the linguistic and literary tradition of the Irish language for the benefit of the global community. That goal sits very neatly with a key aspiration of third level research activity, which is to maximise the societal impact of what we do at the interdisciplinary, inter-institutional and international level. Dúchas.ie represents another important opportunity to further develop and enhance this aspiration in collaboration with our partners.”

The Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) is involved in an advisory role in Dúchas.ie with regard to standards and inter-operability in digital archiving.

For further information contact Anna Bale, National Folklore Collection, UCD, email: anna.bale@ucd.ie  t: + 353 1 716 8439 or Micéal Whelan, University College Dublin, Communications Manager (Innovation), email: miceal.whelan@ucd.ie t: + 353 1 716 3712.