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The Doegen Records Web Project

Raghaidh mé síos i measc na ndaoine

The Royal Irish Academy library has been granted funding under PRTLI, Cycle 4 to publish the Doegen recordings of Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht and former Gaeltacht areas of Ulster, Munster and Connaught on the web. The site is now live at Doegen.ie

doegenInitiated by the Department of Education and organised and administered by the Royal Irish Academy’s Irish Studies Committee, the recordings were made by Dr Wilhelm Doegen, Director of the Lautabteilung, Preussische Staatsbibliothek, Berlin during the period 1928-1931. Dr Doegen had taken a lead role in recording the spoken word together with songs, in a range of languages, in the pow camps in Germany in the aftermath of the Great War.

The 216 recordings of Irish speech in Munster, Connaught and Ulster comprise spoken versions of stories and songs, of numbers and of prayers, as well as some sung versions of traditional songs. A full set of the shellac records generated by the project was deposited with the Royal Irish Academy Library. The records are supplemented by archival data, viz. phonetic transcripts relating to 26% of the recordings are held by the Academy library, as well as photocopies of speakers’ personal data, the originals being held at the Berliner Lautarchiv der Humboldt-Universität, Berlin.

Sample Tracks

W.T. Cosgrave Speaking at UCC
soundFileThis recording of W. T. Cosgrave, first President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, was made in University College Cork on 5 September 1928 on the occasion of the making of the Doegen recordings

Representative Speaker from Munster
musicFileIn this recording, made at University College Cork on 5 September 1928, Mícheál Ó Cionnfhaolaidh of An Rinn (Ring), Co. Waterford, recites Mallacht na Saor Chloch (‘the Curse upon the Stone Masons’), a humorous tale in which St Patrick attempts unsuccessfully to get three stone masons to go to Mass.

Project Presentation

The Doegen Records Web Project recently presented a poster at the DHO Launch. You can download a copy of the Project Poster as a PDF.



In the 1990s, the library obtained funding from the Heritage Council to have the original recordings reformatted onto CDs. We now propose to take the remastered archive to the web and to enhance it with value-added contextual data, resulting from specialist analysis of the linguistic components and supporting commentary. The project will depend on inter-institutional collaboration (RIA/NUI Maynooth/NUI Galway). The project will embed the fundamental transcription techniques and processes required to deliver the final product in the mentored postgraduate research programmes of our partner institutions and in the development of content. This will be a fundamental Irish language resource for the future, which can be exploited in new and imaginative ways; it will also be accessible in English for the purposes of including as wide a net of users as possible in, and from, local communities.

In the course of the three-year project we intend to:

  • train MA students in transcription of Irish dialects to agreed standards;
  • enhance the website by providing extra information about the areas in which recordings were made;
  • provide information on the speakers;
  • link to other dialect resources and other relevant websites;
  • encourage interactive use of the resource in order to develop and to maximise its usefulness to the end-users;
  • hold workshops and seminars to broaden knowledge of the resource and of the teaching and learning benefits at third and fourth levels.

We envisage that this resource will benefit linguists, historians, local historians, musicologists, local communities.


(lead partner) Professor Ruairí Ó hUiginn, Roinn na Nua-Ghaeilge, NUI Maynooth;
Dr Seán Ua Súilleabháin, Roinn na Nua-Ghaeilge, UCC


Siobhán Fitzpatrick, Librarian

Eoghan Ó Raghallaigh, Post-Doctoral Researcher