JOHN JOE MCGINLEY REMEMBERS WHEN CROLLY DOLLS WERE A POPULAR CHRISTMAS REQUEST FROM SANTA
December 8th was always the traditional start of the Christmas season. This was the day when rural families flocked to the cities in search of presents and other supplies. One of the gifts many parents looked to buy was a must have for children all over Ireland, a Crolly Doll.
These dolls and teddies not only fulfilled many a Christmas wish but created much need employment in rural parishes, spawned a hit song from Bridie Gallagher, and even a beauty pageant.
The history of the Crolly Doll goes back to 1938 when a concerted effort was made to provide much needed employment in rural Ireland and to protect and preserve the Irish language. There were still a few areas in which the Irish language was holding on and these havens were given official Gaeltacht (Irish Gaelic speaking) designation.
It was soon apparent that employment opportunities were vital to stem the tide of emigration and the loss of native Irish speakers.
One such employment scheme led to the creation of toys that would light up many an Irish child’s eyes on Christmas morning, the Crolly Doll Factory.
This was overseen by a Government agency known as Gaeltarra Eireann which was part of the Department of Lands. The enterprise began in 1938 in the village of Croithlí (anglicised as Crolly) in the west of county Donegal.
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