The Irish Song Project

The Irish Song Project was originally conceived by Professor Ed Larrissy and Dr Ann Buckley as an interdisciplinary research project which might be hosted by the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in the School of English, Queen’s University Belfast. The Centre had previously included Dr Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin as traditional singer-in-residence (a position funded by Foras na Gaeilge), in addition to the strong links between song, music and poetry evident in the career of the Centre’s first Director, Professor Ciaran Carson. The project, under the heading of ‘An Historical Typology of Irish Song: from the earliest beginnings to c.1820’, was successfully awarded a major research grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in 2012.

Professor Ed Larrissy was the Principal Investigator of the project until his retirement in November 2013, when he was succeeded by Professor Moyra Haslett, also of the School of English Queen’s University Belfast.

Dr Ann Buckley was the Senior Research Fellow for the duration of the project (April 2012-September 2015). Dr Buckley has published extensively on the history of music in Ireland, and on medieval European song, as well as contributing articles to - inter alia - Grove’s Dictionary, The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, and the Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland for which she also served as Subject Editor for the period to 1600. She is also an experienced editor of medieval music and has produced editions of the medieval offices for Ss Brigit (2005) and Patrick (2008) from the original manuscripts, recorded on CD by the Scottish early music ensemble, Canty.

Dr Julie Henigan served as the Junior Research Fellow for the project’s first year and was then succeeded by Dr Conor Caldwell (April 2013-September 2015). Dr Caldwell’s main research interests are the Irish song tradition and the fiddle style of county Donegal. He has also conducted an ethnography of the current traditional dance revival of south-west Donegal. He is a fiddle player with the Belfast-based group Craobh Rua.

The project received significant support from a number of other key departments within Queen’s University and the Project Team would like to thank here in particular: Gavin Mitchell, Senior Systems Analyst (QUB); and Deirdre Wildy and Maura Farrelly of Special Collections (McClay library, QUB).

The research has resulted thus far in this online database of Irish song – Irish Song: types and histories – and a forthcoming collection of essays.

The Irish Song Project team welcomes corrections or suggestions for further selections.
These can be sent to the following e-mail address: