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Traditional Music and Song

Field recordings of Irish traditional song, music and stories made by Alan Lomax in Ireland in 1951, with Robin Roberts and Séamus Ennis with an account of the Lomax collecting trip and notes on songs, tunes & stories

In January 1951 the famous American collector and singer Alan Lomax, accompanied by the American singer Robin Roberts, came to Ireland for the first time. The purpose of the visit was to make sound recordings of Irish traditional songs and instrumental music; these were to be published as the first of a commercial series of long-playing discs (LPs), a new technology which had been introduced in 1948. The series would become The Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music, and recording would be carried out on magnetic tape, another new technology of 1948. Guided in Ireland by the uilleann piper and singer Séamus Ennis, who was working as a professional collector with Radio Éireann and who would feature prominently on their recordings, and assisted by the Irish Folklore Commission and Radio Éireann, Lomax and Roberts recorded for weeks in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Donegal. Selections from the resulting tapes were issued on the Ireland LP of the Columbia series in 1955 and re-issued on Rounder CD in 1998. The two new ITMA CDs are companion volumes to this CD, and constitute an especially valuable documentation of the Irish-language song tradition and women’s and children’s songs of seventy years ago.

The ITMA CDs (66 tracks, 145 minutes) feature the Co. Cork singers Elizabeth Cronin, Seán Eoghain Ó Súilleabháin, Diarmuid Ó Riordáin, Máire Ní Shúilleabháin, Gobnait Ní Chróinín, Peigí Ní Scanláin, Máire Ní Cheocháin, and Mickey Cronin; the Co. Galway singers Colm Ó Caodháin, Meaigí Nic Dhonncha, Beairtle Ó Conaola, Seán Jeaic Mac Donncha, and Seán ’ac Dhonncha; the Co. Galway fiddle players Aggie and Bridie White, flute players Eddie Moloney and Chet Coughlin, and the Ballinakill Ceili Band; the Co. Donegal singer Cití Ní Ghallchóir, fiddle player and storyteller Mickey Doherty, and fiddle player and lilter Neillidh Boyle; the singing and uilleann piping of Séamus Ennis of Dublin; and the singing and guitar playing of Robin Roberts and Alan Lomax. The CDs are accompanied by a 68-page A5 booklet which contextualises and details the collecting trip and afterlife of the recordings, and their position in the history of Irish traditional music.

Audio remastering by Harry Bradshaw, music transcriptions and setting by Jackie Small, graphic design and layout by Terry Moylan, and compilation, research, text and production by Nicholas Carolan.

The Lomax Irish recordings (the surviving originals of which are in the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress) have been made freely available to ITMA for publication by Dr Anna Lomax Wood of the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), New York, with the cooperation of ACE staff, especially Nathan Salsburg; the recordings can be heard streamed online at http://www.researchculturalequity.org.

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