Exploring the Irish National Folklore Ethnography Database (Dúchas) for Open Data Research on Traditional Medicine Use in Post-Famine Ireland: An Early Example of Citizen Science

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Aside from my Laidlaw research project, I was also involved in an ethnomedicine project exploring Traditional Medicine use in Ireland in the 1930s. Our digital archival research to explore ethnomedicine in post-famine Ireland using the Dúchas.ie database, the digitised version of the Irish national treasure that is the Schools' Collection, has been published as an Open Access article in Frontiers in Pharmacology; it's been a long time coming! My first paper too, of which I am a joint first-author! You can access the paper by clicking here.

In this paper, by using several medicinal plants as 'probes', we explored the functionality and quality of the Dúchas.ie database, demonstrated an easy and accessible approach to analyse the ethnomedical data therein and identified both the strengths of and improvement opportunities for the database.

We hope that this piece of work will inspire the wider research community to explore digital humanities through this unique body of ethnographic material, collected by schoolchildren at a critical time in Irish history. We believe you will gain incredible insights from it.

We also hope that this piece of work can highlight the values and research potential of Dúchas.ie, so that resources can be used to enhance the database 'to encourage, enable and empower accessibility and open science in Irish ethnomedicinal research in the 21st century.'

Have a read and let us know what you think!

Aaron Koay

PhD Scholar in Population Health & Human Factors | Pharmacist, Trinity College Dublin

I am a PhD Scholar in Population Health and Human Factors at Trinity College Dublin. For my PhD, I aim to explore household medication practices and safety vulnerabilities in lay people through the lens of systems thinking. I am also a qualified pharmacist in Ireland. I have a strong interest in global health, population health, health service research, preventive medicine, natural products, and sustainable development. For my Laidlaw research project, I investigated the therapeutic potential of a natural-occurring vitamin called ergothioneine, mostly found in mushrooms, on the development of idiopathic and bleomycin-induced lung scarring in lung cells. Beyond that, I have had extensive research experiences across multiple fields, including medical humanities, digital archival research, plant metabolomics, travel health and pharmacy practice. During my free time, you'll most likely find me practising yoga and meditation in my room! If you're interested to have a chat about anything, don't hesitate to drop a line! Look forward to hearing from you! :)

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