Audio Library of Traveller Story and Song
19 September–17 November 2018

Wire Recorder.JPG

The traditions of Ireland are the background of our history; they have helped in large measure to mould the Ireland of the past; they are part and parcel of the Irish nation of today. We desire to see them known and honoured, for the Ireland of tomorrow will have need of them, finding in them a source of inspiration and pride.

J. H. Delargy, Honorary Director, Irish Folklore Commission (1942)

The Irish Folklore Commission was founded in 1935 with the intention of preserving Ireland’s oral and material culture, including folklore and traditions. Collectors went out into the field and recorded the stories and songs to be found in different communities, fragments that form part of the rich social history of Ireland. In 1971, the Commission ceased, but the archive it had collected was integrated into the National Folklore Collection at University College Dublin, along with material collected by the Irish Folklore Institute and the Department of Irish Folklore in UCD.

Though not as widely documented as other aspects of Irish culture, a number of the stories and songs that are an integral part of Irish Traveller culture were also collected and are held by the National Folklore Collection today. Along with recordings held by the Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA), they form one of the few existing accounts of Traveller culture that was given directly by Travellers themselves in the early to mid 20th century. These gaps in documentation are now being addressed by endeavours such as Seamus Nolan’s online archive arising out of an exhibition at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, and RTÉ’s series The Travellers, a contemporary archival project undertaken in collaboration with the National Folklore Collection.

Throughout the exhibition my comfort and my joy, an audio library containing a number of the recordings of Traveller story and song held by the National Folklore Collection and the Irish Traditional Music Archive will be available in the Gallery for visitors to listen to.

Image: Wire recorder, courtesy of the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin.