This Samhain, the National Museum of Ireland is inviting people across Donegal to share ghost stories.
The Irish Community Archive Network (iCAN) has launched a new project called ‘Ghost Stories of Ireland – Seeking Tales of the Unexplained’ to help preserve ghost stories that have been passed down through oral tradition in their locality.
The search is on for Ireland’s ‘spookiest’ county, and Donegal people have plenty of stories to tell.
“Ghost stories and encounters with otherworldly beings are a common theme in Irish folklore,” explained Lorna Elms, iCAN Development Officer, “so this Hallowe’en we are inviting the public to help us document those stories that continue to be told and to help us find out which county in Ireland is the spookiest!”
“Stories passed down through oral tradition give us a greater understanding of how our ancestors’ perceived and explained the world around them, which is why the Irish Folklore Commission was set up in 1935 to collect and study the folklore and traditions of Ireland. Much of this work continues to be carried out by local volunteer History and Heritage groups, such as those supported by the iCAN initiative.”
The project also wants to revisit the ghost stories gathered by schoolchildren for the Irish Folklore Commission in the 1930s. The Commission prepared a guidance booklet that listed 55 subject headings – topics that the children could explore with older people in the community.
“Despite ‘Ghost Stories’ not being on the headings list, the collection contains over 1,000 spooky tales, suggesting that a belief in the unexplained strongly persisted in the public consciousness at that time,” added Ms Elms. “Going by the amount of ghost stories collected by county, Tipperary appears to have been the most ‘haunted’, with 95 accounts of frightful folklore. There are 48 ghost stories listed from Co Donegal, so here is an opportunity to capture more stories from the county. As part of our ‘Ghost Stories of Ireland’ project, we would also like to revisit and highlight those tales gathered by the children 75 years ago, and bring them back to life.”
Visit ouririshheritage.org to learn more about the ‘Ghost Stories of Ireland’ project; submit a ghost story of your own; or choose your favourite story from the National Folklore Collection and tell the Museum why you like it.
Through iCAN, the National Museum works in partnership with the Local Authority Heritage Officers to support communities as they document their own history, heritage and culture on digital platforms. This initiative is supported by the Heritage Council.