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Maritime Memorates

Project URL

arts.ulster.ac.uk/storiesofthesea

Funding Body

Arts and Humanities Research Council

The project seeks to collect three hundred memorates recorded primarily, but not exclusively, through the medium of Modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Where necessary, Gaelic texts will be furnished with English translations.

Memorates are personal accounts of supernatural happenings, centred around various phenomena of human life and constitute an extremely popular and productive category of oral literature. They include a variety of extraordinary experiences, of which maritime narratives are among the most vivid and plentiful. They occur in liminal spatio-temporal contexts, such as the sea-shore, streams, fords and bridges. These stories typically involve encounters with ghosts and other supernatural beings. On the one hand, they can function in the numinous context as portents of death and similar phenomena. On the other hand, they can have social and cultural implications for the community.

Stories of the Sea: A Typological Study of Maritime Memorates in Modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic Folklore Tradition, funded by the AHRC, 2010-2012 (£166,593), under the Early Career Research Grant Scheme.

Project results

The project has collected data from different sources, including printed material, material transcribed from manuscripts and audio recordings from the National Folklore Collection (UCD, Dublin) and School of Scottish Studies Archives (University of Edinburgh).

The data, available in Irish, English and Scottish Gaelic is related to the maritime oral tradition, including personal stories about supernatural experiences at sea, such as encounters with mermaids, phantom boats, magical islands, etc.

Dissemination and outreach

The project group have convened a number of sessions at various major international conferences, including the 10th SIEF International Congress (Lisbon, April 2011), 14th International Celtic Congress (Maynooth, August 2011), 3rd AASE Congress (Yerevan, Armenia, October 2011), and organised public roadshows in Ireland (Inishowen Maritime Museum, May 2011) and Scotland (Ionad Chalm Cille Ìle, May 2013).