Caoimhín Ó Danachair

Other names
  • Kevin Danaher
Birth date
30 January 1913
Date of death
14 March 2002
Birth place
Athea, Co. Limerick

In 1934, Caoimhín Ó Danachair – or Kevin Danaher, as he was more widely known – began collecting folklore in his native Athea, Co. Limerick on behalf of the Irish Folklore Institute (1930-35), and in 1935, while still a student of archaeology in UCD, the Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Adolf Mahr, recommended to him that he accompany the experienced Swedish ethnologist Åke Campbell on a field trip to Galway and Mayo. Campbell and a fellow Swede, Albert Nilsson, had been invited by the Commission to conduct ethnological field work in Ireland in the summer of that year. This was part of a strategy to train Commission staff in field work, archival and classification methods lately developed by Swedish folklorists. The experience profoundly influenced the course of Caoimhín’s career, leading him to devote much of his subsequent research to the study of vernacular architecture, a subject in which Campbell excelled.

In 1940 he was appointed ‘material culture specialist’ to the Irish Folklore Commission, but his appointment was interrupted when he was called to serve in the Irish army, where he spent the next five years serving as an artillery instructor at the Curragh Barracks. He did, however, find time in the war years to research and write his MA thesis on Irish vernacular architecture. At war’s end he returned to the Commission, and in 1946 commenced a programme of intensive field recording and photography that would take him to many parts of Ireland recording speakers, singers and musicians, especially in Gaeltacht districts of the south and west.

Read more about Kevin Danaher in this leaflet.