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Meitheal Dúchas.ie: Community Transcription

Dúchas.ie is a project to digitize the Irish National Folklore Collection, initially focusing on the Schools' Collection (some 740,000 pages of folklore collected from Irish primary school pupils between 1937 and 1939).

Dúchas is currently inviting volunteers to help transcribe the handwritten Irish language stories collected by the Schools' Project.

For language learners this could be a great opportunity to get to grips with Irish in a more 'natural' context than language lessons and become familiar with handwritten forms of the language (which, in this collection, are in the cló Gaelach or traditional Irish script). It would also let you study a particular dialect or dialects.

While it may be intimidating for people who feel their grasp of the language is still shaky, I would invite anyone who has gotten most of the way through their tree to give it a go. All transcriptions will be checked by others and new transcribers will be especially monitored to prevent mistakes getting through into the final database.

(Incidentally, as someone who has worked with medieval manuscripts in my day job, sometimes scribes who don't know a language can be better copyists than those who do, as they tend to write what they see on the page rather than 'correcting' it to what they think should be there).

You can find out more information about the project here and here.

You can find out more about the cló Gaelach here and here.

Disclaimer: I do not work for Dúchas.ie or the National Folklore Collection at University College Dublin. I am merely a volunteer looking to recruit other volunteers.

August 11, 2015

1 Comment


Also, the word meitheal, which this project uses to describe itself, is an interesting one.

Dineen defined it as 'a gang or party especially or reapers, a number of men employed at any special work, as hay-making, turf-cutting, etc.'

Ó Dónaill defined it as 'working party', or in a military sense 'party, contingent'.

My friend from the Ráth Cairn Gaeltacht suggested that this left out a particular sense which he had heard used at home: meitheal as 'a community coming together to achieve a joint task'. He said the barn-raising scene from the film Witness was a good example of a meitheal.

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