As plans were being prepared for the Blasket Centre it was envisaged that the building would include a dedicated research and study room. This room was duly built and was opened to the public at the same time as the Centre was in 1993.
The Archive attracted donations of material from various parties from the outset. Blasket people, their descendants and others began bringing items to the Archive for safekeeping by permanent loan; this material included manuscripts, books, artefacts from the island and various audio-visual material.
One of the major contributions was made by Mon. Dr. Pádraig Ó Fiannachta, noted Gaelic and Celtic scholar, who donated a vast amount of books and manuscripts from the library of the late Máirín Uí Dhálaigh and her husband, former President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh. This material, mostly concerning early Irish Studies, Historical, Law and Irish, accounts for some 40% of the books in the archive.
Other donations followed. After the death of Blasket scholar Prof. George Thomson, his daughter Margeret Alexiou donated the material from her father’s vast library which related to the Blaskets to the Archive. Another Blasket scholar, Ray Stagles, again donated some of his library, as did many others. A new major donation of some 300 books in the Irish Language was made by Micheál Ó Conghaile, founder of publishing company Cló Iar-Chonnachta, in 2011.
These donations have been supplemented by various purchases made by the Archive over the years. Most of these have been purchases of single items, but a major addition was made in 2005 by the acquisition of the entire archive of the local Raidió na Gaeltachta studio.
The Archive holds a wide variety of materials. Although concentrated on the Blaskets, the Archive also holds material on the Irish Language & Literature, Folklore & Folklife, Archaeology, Genealogy, History, Law, Celtic Languages, Politics & Geography. This material contains books, journals, articles from newspapers & periodicals, AV material, theses & studies, personal letters and manuscripts, and a photographic archive containing some 3000 photographs. All of this material is digitally catalogued and easily accessed.
We are delighted to make available to the public some key material relating to Great Blasket.
Click on the image of the resource to access it. Please acknowledge The Blasket Centre in any use of this material.
The Blasket Centre facilitates those carrying out historic research by allowing access to its reserve collection. Access to the reserve collection is by appointment only. To make an appointment, please contact us.
We have a large collection of audio-visual material relating to the Blasket, including a copy of the feature film ‘West of Kerry’, filmed on the Blasket in 1937, copies of film interviews done with Blasket Islanders in 1992, and a copy of the sound archive of the local station of RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.
This is a snippet of a film shot by Fr Ferdinand Valentine O.P. on the Blasket in 1938, showing the island community fifteen years before the final evacuation. Click on the square in the bottom right of the embedded video to see it full-screen. The full film can be viewed in the Centre.
We offer a genealogical research service to Blasket descendants, and house a large amount of documents and databases of Blasket people. Download a high-resolution re-issued copy of Hanora Crehan’s 1877 marriage certificate from Chicopee, Massachusetts, by clicking on the image to the right.
We have a vast collection of book on a variety of subjects. We hold all the major editions of all the Blasket Library plus a library of books relating to Irish Language, culture, folklore, history and archaeology. We hold copies of the majority of Blasket books, including first editions of An tOileánach and The Islandman by Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Fiche Blian ag Fás and Twenty Years a-Growing by Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, and various editions of Peig. We also have a collection of early Irish books and facsimiles of some of Ireland’s ancient manuscripts.
We have lots of interesting manuscripts, some nearly a hundred years old, penned by various Blasket people. Click on the thumbnail to the right to download a high resolution page. This is a page from a copybook owned by Máire Ghobnait Ní Ghuithín (Mrs. Mary Banes RIP), who filled it with material she collected during the 1937/38 Schools Folklore Scheme when she was attending the island school. She brought the copybook to the UK with her, and it was bound and donated to the Centre in the 1990s