Childhood and Living Heritage

The theme for this year’s Heritage Week invites us to explore the traditions and practices, passed down through generations. Childhood memories are an essential part of this transfer of tradition from one generation to the next. As adults we remember the songs that our parents sang and the toys and games that we played. We create a living tradition by passing on some of these songs and games to our own children.

For its webinar this year, the Museum of Childhood Ireland has brought together four researchers to talk about childhood and living heritage in Ireland. The discussion ranges over Irish dancing and sport, Irish language lullabies, homemade and manufactured toys and dolls (including Barbie!). The presenters look at how traditions can be invented and what might seem like a very old tradition may not be as old as we might assume. Traditions are not just passed from one generation to another unchanged. They evolve over time and take on new meanings and interpretations in different times. Dip into the different presentations or watch them all in one sitting:

Professor Ríona Nic Congáil, ‘Gaelic Childhoods in the Early Twentieth Century’
Dr Mary Hatfield, ‘Traditional Handmade Toys for Irish Children 1800-1945’
Dr Ciara Thompson, ‘Lullabies as Irish Living Tradition’
Mick Farrell, ‘An Oral History Project on ‘Early Childhood Memories’’
Chair: Professor Mary O’Dowd

Dr. Mary Hatfield is the author of Growing up in Nineteenth Century Ireland: A Cultural History of Middle-Class Childhood and Gender. In this presentation she gives a broad overview of traditional games and toys for Irish children during the modern period and highlights the Schools’ Collection of Folklore for those researchers interested in discovering the games and toys of their local area. 

“Lullabies are a unique form of intergenerationally transmitted heritage passed from caregiver to child. Dr Thompson takes us through the process of her investigations into the deeper interpretations of these treasured songs in the Irish context.”

Further Information

Museum of Childhood Ireland