Methodology and Description of Schools
During nine months in 1996–97, I collected folklore materials in five different primary schools in Belfast. In addition to this first-hand collecting, I had access, during the course of my research, to collections compiled by other scholars. Roger Austin, at the University of Ulster at Coleraine, allowed me access to a large set of materials gathered by student teachers during the 1980s at primary schools throughout Northern Ireland.I refer to those materials as the “Austin collection” in the notes. Jane Hubbard's Ph.D. dissertation (Hubbard 1995a, b) from Queen's University, Belfast, contains materials she collected from several different schools in Derry city in the late 1980s.I use both sets of materials primarily to annotate the folklore that I encountered myself, so as to establish their widespread distribution in Northern Ireland; the works of Leyden (1993) and Craig (1994) were additionally useful in this regard. The international nature of the folklore is established through additional annotations as each piece first appears in the text.
The schools who were gracious enough to allow me to visit their grounds and their pupils for a year originally gave their consent via mail.I acquired permission to enter each of the schools by writing to the principals, who then passed on my request to their respective Boards of Governors.I contacted approximately twenty schools, situated in middle-and working-class neighborhoods, with my first mailing.I heard back from six, located in