The Seán Ó Riada Memorial Lecture 2023 From dámhscoil to digital: new frontiers for collections of Irish traditional music
Archival collections of manuscript, audio, and visual material form keystones of scholarship on Irish traditional music. Yet, many of them face significant challenges including: media obsolescence; media migration; digital literacy; and preservation, discoverability and access needs. Audio archives that preserve intangible cultural heritage are particularly vulnerable. In a world consumed by spectacle, they are often neglected. They also endure a bias toward literary sources at the expense of oral sources as well as the fetishization of manuscripts and of antiquity. This historiographical survey of lesser-known collections of Irish traditional music outlines some of their challenges and identifies opportunities for their development including: the tracing of networks of music scholarship; the indexing and publication of source material; and the development of new methodologies of music research.
Deirdre Ní Chonghaile
Deirdre Ní Chonghaile is a writer, musician, broadcaster, and curator from the Aran Islands, Co. Galway. She works with artists, communities, and institutions on cultural heritage projects, specializing in Irish language and music archives. She read Music at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, worked at the University of Notre Dame and the Library of Congress, and has taught part-time at the University of Galway. Described as “one of the most important and fascinating books about Irish traditional music in recent memory,” her 2021 monograph Collecting Music in the Aran Islands: A Century of History and Practice won the Michael J. Durkan Prize for Books on Language and Culture from the American Conference for Irish Studies. Her next book will be an edition of over fifty traditional songs composed in the Aran Islands from the nineteenth century to the present day. Her exhibition on the pioneering Irish language scholar, newspaper editor, and folklore collector, Prof. Tomás Ó Máille, runs at the Royal Irish Academy in Spring 2023. In January 2023, she was appointed Associate Research Scholar at New York University where she is working on a digital edition of the Irish-American bilingual newspaper, An Gaodhal.
The Seán Ó Riada Memorial Lecture was first established in 1985 by Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and has taken place annually ever since.