Kevin Danaher, Obituary. 

Kevin Danaher 
PJ Gillan
The Guardian,
Saturday 27 April 2002 14.14 BST

The Irish folklorist Kevin Danaher, who has died aged 89, popularised the study of folk life largely by lecturing, writing and making television programmes. His 1967 Telifís Éireann series, The Hearth And Stool And All, depicted the Irish countryside as it would have appeared at the turn of the 20th century.
The son of a schoolteacher, Danaher was born in Athea, Co Limerick, and became interested in the traditions of Irish rural life while studying archaeology at University College, Dublin. After graduating in 1937, he studied folk life at the universities of Berlin and Leipzig, before his work was cut short by the outbreak of the second world war.

Within months of joining the Irish folklore commission (IFC) in 1940, he was recruited to the Irish army as an artillery instructor. By the time he returned to the IFC in 1945, he had completed his MA thesis on Irish house types, focusing on vernacular architecture.

He devoted the next four years to field work in Ireland - recording singers, musicians and storytellers -and spent the 1952-53 academic year as a guest lecturer in Irish language, literature and tradition at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. He was to compile a substantial pictorial archive, much of it consisting of his own fine photographs, as well as plans, diagrams and drawings of traditional farmyard tools and household utensils.

One of the most impressive examples of applied folk-life devised by Danaher is Bunratty folk park, close to Shannon airport, where buildings typical of a dispersed rural settlement are complemented by a village settlement. A centrepiece of the folk park is a Shannon farmhouse, transplanted to make way for a runway extension and restored under Danaher's supervision.

He was also adviser to the trustees of Muckross House museum, and maintained a friendly interest in the Ulster folk and transport museum at Cultra, County Down. When the IFC was transferred to University College, Dublin, in 1971, he became a lecturer in the new department of Irish folklore. An outstanding teacher, he gave unstintingly to ensure that his students fulfilled their potential.

Danaher was a member of the Irish National Monuments Advisory Council, the Folklore Council of Ireland, was active in the working group of the European Ethnological Atlas and served as president of the Society for Folk Life Studies. From 1965 to 1980, he was general editor of the department of foreign affairs' Irish Life And Culture series, and, from 1960 to 1971, edited the Irish Sword, the Military History Society of Ireland journal.

His publications include Ireland Long Ago (1962), The Year In Ireland (1972), Ireland's Vernacular Architecture (1975), A Bibliography Of Irish Ethnology And Folk Tradition (1978) and That's How It Was (1984).

Danaher retired in 1983, and is survived by his wife Anna and two sons.

Kevin Danaher, folklorist, born January 30 1913; died March 14 2002 

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