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Irish Music

A guide to Irish music resources in the Hesburgh Library and online.

ITMA: Irish Traditional Music Archive: Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann

ITMA: Irish Traditional Music Archive/ Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann

A national public reference archive and resource centre for the traditional song, instrumental music and dance of Ireland.

Anyone interested in Irish traditional music should keep this site bookmarked. The extensive catalogues and digital library are constantly being developed and new items frequently added.

The following is a sample of what is available through the ITMA site:

  • Catalogues: These are available for searching online, and include details of books and recordings in the collection. The ITMA Special Collections include the collection of the Late Breandán Breathnach, and other musicians and collectors of music. The audio collection includes both commercial recordings and field recordings from many sources
  • Digital Library: The Archive has digitized a broad range of holdings including manuscripts, sound recordings, broadside ballads and video.
  • PW Joyce Irish Music Microsite: An online microsite presenting the published and unpublished work on Irish music of Patrick Weaton Joyce (1827-1914)
  • Inishowen Song Project: A unique 2,000-item online microsite presenting the traditional singers and songs of Inishowen Peninsula, Co. Donegal, and incorporating digital sound and video recordings, books, photographs, transcriptions of song texts, and metadata catalogue information for each item.
  • Port: An ITMA tune resource: digitized collections of Irish tunes which can be searched by name and also browsed by collection. Scores may be read, listened to, shared and analyzed using Port. Port (pronounced purth) is an Irish word for a tune or air, sung or played.
  • **Playlists**: This great feature is found in the Digital Library section of the ITMA website.  Introduced as "new tranches of sample sound recordings... for the personal enjoyment and interest of users", it includes songs sung by Eddie Butcher and collected by Hugh Shields, concertina players in County Clare, and Irish-American bands and electric recording, 1920s-1940s, among many others.
  • The site's News includes listings of recent publications and acquisitions, one of the very best places to browse in order to keep up with what's new in Irish traditional music publishing.

Ward Irish Music Archives

Ward Irish Music Archives, located in Milwaukee, WI, collects the Irish music of America and the music of Irish-Americans. The collection includes sheet music, recordings and ephemera relating to Irish-American music from the 19th century to the 21st. Digital projects have made some of the collection available in the Web:

The Dunn Family Collection / Francis O'Neill Cylinders

The Ward Irish Music Archives houses the extensive Dunn Family Collection, donated by David K. Dunn, containing the collection of Michael J. Dunn (1855-1935) and also thirty-two wax cylinders of recordings by Francis O’Neill, made probably between 1904 and 1914.  The cylinders are digitized and may be listened to online.

Irish Sheet Music Archives

This is a digitized collection of Irish-American sheet music.

Collections in Other Libraries and Archives

Irish Music Center, Burns Library, Boston College

The Irish Music Center in Boston College's Burns Library specialized in documenting Irish music in America. Collections are listed in the Irish Music Center Named Collections guide, and there is also an online guide to collection finding aids.  Collections in the Burns Library include the following:

Derek F. Bell: The Derek F. Bell Irish Music Collection and the Ellis Schuman Collection of Derek F. Bell.

Myron Bretholz Irish Music Collection (including over 1,000 records)

CCÉ North America Collection of Irish Music Materials

Séamus Connolly Papers, circa 1929-2013

Barthomolew Egan Irish Music Collection

Michael Cummings Collection of P. S. Gilmore Materials 1850-2004

John Glynn and Maureen Glynn Connolly Irish Music Collection

Green Linnet Irish Music Collection

Mary O'Hara Papers, and the Jean Heitz Collection of Mary O'Hara Materials, 1978-2007

James W. Smith Irish Music Collection

University of Chicago Folk Festival Recordings Collection, 1961-1995.

The Mick Moloney Irish-American Music and Popular Culture Collection, Tamiment Library, NYU.

The Archives of Irish America at NYU includes the Mick Moloney collection, one of the largest collections in the U.S. for the study of Irish-American music and popular colture.