Kate: The Irish Traditional Music Archive

Today I met with a traditional singer and librarian at the Irish Traditional Music Archive for an interview. I entered through this unsuspecting row house across from a lovely green park.


Inside was a treasure trove of books, scores, recordings, and films of traditional music. I could’ve spent hours browsing the collection, and a plan to return again to spend more time exploring the archives, but today I was here for an interview.

I had a lovely time speaking with the librarian at the archive about her experience growing up and singing in Donegal, and how she became involved with organizing a singing circle in Inishowen as means to encourage people to keep singing.

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Hearing different singer’s perspectives on the tradition has been fascinating. Some find it vital that clubs adhere to a specific criteria and believe singers should not perform songs composed after a certain time, and there should be absolutely no instruments used during the session. Others see the perimeters of the practice as more relaxed, and as long as the singing is being presented with respect it shouldn’t matter what people want to sing.

One thing all the singers seem to have in common is they find singing to be a fundamental part of the human experience, and they participate in the tradition because they believe we all should be able to share in this beautiful expression of life. It’s all been very inspiring and I have to admit, regardless of the dreary wind and rain I will be sad to leave on Monday.


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