On-line archive of spoken Irish from the 1920s & 30s launched

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 00:00

Academics from Maynooth University have been working with The Royal Irish Academy, to put a unique record of the sounds of Irish as it was spoken throughout Ireland in the 1920s and ’30s online.

www.doegen.ie is home to audio recordings made by Dr Wilhelm Doegen, who came to Ireland eighty-five years ago at the request of the new Ministry of Education, to make a permanent record of the spoken language in all districts in which it was still spoken. The project ran from 1928 to 1931, and 136 speakers from 17 counties recorded 400 stories, songs, prayers, charms and parables. The original wax matrices were transferred to Berlin and reformatted onto shellac disks.

Although the shellac recordings have been long known to linguists, the Academy Library wanted to make them freely available to all via a digital archive on the internet. In 2008, with a funding grant under the Higher Education Authority’s PRTLI4, the Academy Library commenced a project to transfer the recordings to the web, together with annotated transcripts of content, speaker details, translations of the transcripts and other data.

The site is fully bilingual. It will enable linguistic, folkloric and musicological research and teaching, as well as providing a resource for family and local history. 

Lead academic project partner is Professor Ruairí Ó hUiginn, Roinn na Nua-Ghaeilge, Maynooth University, and website editor is Dr Eoghan Ó Raghallaigh, Roinn na Nua-Ghaeilge, Maynooth University. The project also benefitted from work done by Maynooth students Siobhán Barrett and Líadan Ní Chearbhaill under the Maynooth University Summer Programme for Undergraduate Researchers (SPUR).

Photocaption: ​Siobhán Fitzpatrick, Royal Irish Academy Librarian, Professor Luke Drury, Royal Irish Academy President, and Dr Eoghan Ó Raghallaigh, Roinn na Nua-Ghaeilge, Maynooth University.