Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Ettlinger's visits to Ireland

1965.5.1.276-7 Michael Murphy and his family. Photo by Ettlinger 1948

1965.5.1.276-7 Michael Murphy and his family. Photo by Ettlinger 1948

The 'Other Within' research project is concerned with the English collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum but it has proved impossible to look at Ettlinger's work without examining her other areas of interest as well.

Ellen Ettlinger appears to have visited the Republic of Ireland several times. Her obituary by Jacqueline Simpson says:

She was also fascinated by Celtic traditions, especially as embodied by the Catholic heritage of Ireland, where she had travelled extensively and had sought out remote churches, holy wells and pilgrim centres. Her knowledge of Ireland is often apparent in her writings, especially her reviews; the diaries she kept of her journeys will no doubt be of great interest to present-day folklorists. [Simpson, 1995: 86]

According to her card catalogue she visited Ireland in 1948 when she took some images of a fellow folklorist, Michael Murphy [1965.5.1 277]. She seems to have visited County Louth during this visit. She is known to have visited County Galway and the Aran Islands in 1949 with her friend Ingegärd Vallin. On the same trip she visited County Down (in Northern Ireland) and Connemara. She is known to have purchased some photographs from Thomas Holmes Mason (a folklorist and photographer from Dublin) in 1952, which she may well have done in person during another visit.

In one of her book reviews in Folklore she says:

I sincerely hope that the author takes too pessimistic a view when he describes the modern Irish as 'surfeited with news'. The people of all walks of life whom I had the good fortune to encounter until the end of the 1950s were still unbelievably keen on exchanging news and their kind readiness to talk freely, more than anything else, made - and I trust still makes - journeys to Ireland memorable occasions.' [Ettlinger, 1971: 79]

Which implies that her visits to Ireland stopped at the end of the 1950s.

Further reading

Ettlinger, Ellen 1971 Review of 'The Pleasant Land of Ireland' by K. Danaher Folklore, Vol. 82, No. 1 (Spring, 1971), pp. 78-79

Simpson, Jacqueline. 1995. 'Ellen Ettlinger 1902-1994' Folklore, vol 106 p. 86

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