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James Delargy and the Storymen of North Clare by Michael MacMahon



1. The translation by Máire MacNeill, a former secretary of the Irish Folklore Commission, was published by Comhairle Bhéaloideas Éireann in 1981.

2. Béaloideas (1982), p 163.

3. To the Doolin people, as, indeed, to most of his friends, he was known simply as ‘Delargy’ and that is the form of the name that will be used throughout this paper.

4. J.H. Delargy, ‘The Gaelic Storyteller’, Proceedings of the Brit. Academy, vol. xxxi (London 1945) 4, p 46.

5. Béaloideas, (1928), p 205.

6. Seán Ó Suilleabháin (ed.) Folktales of Ireland (Chicago 1966), p xxxiii

7. Ó Giolláin, Locating Irish Folklore, (Cork University Press 2000), p 2.

8. See Ó Cruachlaoich, ‘The Primacy of Form: A “Folk Ideology” in de Valera’s Politics’ in J.P. O’ Carroll and John A. Murphy (eds.) De Valera and his Times (Cork University Press 1986), pp 53-54.

9. The rather unusual figure can be explained by the fact that it represented £100 for each of the thirty-two counties.

10. Ó Giolláin, op. cit., p 141.

11. Béaloideas (1982), p 164.

12. Delargy, ‘Notes on the Oral tradition of Thomond’, Journal of the Royal Soc. of Antiquaries of Ireland [hereafter JRSAI] 95 (1965), pp 134-5.

13. Quoted in Daithí Ó hÓgain’s introduction [hereafter Ó hÓgáin, Réamhrá ] to Leabhar Stiofáin Uí Ealaoire, (Comhairle Bhéaloideas Éireann 1981), xvi. A modern edition of Westropp’s collection - Folklore of Clare – with an introduction by Gearóid Ó Crualaoich, Dept. of Folklore NUI (Cork) was published by Clasp Press in 2000.

14. It is pronounced as ‘Luke’. In Irish it appears variously as ‘Lúch’ and ‘Luach’.

15. JRSAI (95) (1965), p 137.

16. Ibid.

17. Ibid, p 145.

18. Ó hÓgáin, Réamhrá, p xxiv.

19. ‘Madara Dubh na n-Ocht gCos’, Béaloideas 14 (1944), p 113.

20. Ó hÓgáin, Réamhrá, p xv.

21. Béaloideas (1982), p 165.

22. Ó hÓgáin, Réamhrá, p xxiii.

23. JRSAI , 95 (1965), p 145.

24. In the Spring of 1933 on Delargy’s recommendation Stiofán was one of the people visited by the American anthropologist, Conrad Arnsberg, one of a team of academics from Harvard which carried out archaeological and anthropological research in Ireland in the period 1931-1936. These studies resulted in the publication of The Irish Countryman (1937) and Family and Community in Ireland (1940). In his diary Arnsberg mentions that the old man’s sight was then getting bad.

25. Ó hÓgáin, Réamhrá, p xxi.

26. Ibid, p xxii.

27. Though Stiofán’s grave is now not known, the storyteller himself has not been forgotten by the people of Doolin. This writer was pleased to be invited in the millennial year of 2000 to unveil a plaque in memory of Stiofán and the other members of Delargy’s ‘Doolin Circle’ in the reception area of the new Miko Russell Heritage and Community Centre at Doolin.

28. JRSAI, 95, p 145.

29. Ibid, pp 140-141.

30. Ibid, p 142.

31. The Gaelic Storyteller, loc. cit.

32. Pádraig Ó hÉalaí, ‘Seán Mac Mathúna- Fear an Chín Lae’, Béaloideas, 68, p 124.

33. Ríonach Uí Ógáin, ‘Seán Mac Mathúna (1876-1949) ‘Bailitheoir Béaloidis’, Béaloideas 68 (2000), p 144.

34. Correspondence (Roinn Bhéaloideas Éireann) quoted in Pádraig Ó hÉalaí, see note 32 above, l.100.

35. ‘Seanchas ó Thuaisceart Cláir’, Béaloideas 17 (1947), 185

36. The figures quoted here are taken from Gearóid Ó Crualaoich’s introduction to Folklore of Clare Clasp Press, Ennis, 2000), p iii.

37. Ríonach Uí Ógáin, ‘Seán Mac Mathúna…. , p 143.

38. Ibid.

39. JRSAI, 95, p 138.

40. Correspondence (Roinn Bhéaloideas Éireann).

41. Ibid, p 102.

42. The others were Leabhar Sheáin Uí Chonaill (1948) mentioned above, and Seanchas Amhlaoibh Í Luínse (1980)


Leabhar Stiofáin Uí Ealoire