General Information

 All conference proceedings will take place at the University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance (IWA). Panels will be held in Theatres 1 and 2. All coffee breaks will take place in the Foyer of the Academy building, and meals will be hosted by the Pavilion restaurant.

 Conference Dinner

The dinner will happen at The Pavilion Restaurant, directly behind the IWA building. 


Information About Registration, Accommodation, Etc. 

Please visit our website:


Conference Organisers

Martin Graebe, Traditional Song Forum

Steve Roud, Traditional song Forum 

Kara O’Brien, Traditional Song as Cultural Heritage Research Cluster

Sandra Joyce, Traditional Song as Cultural Heritage Research Cluster

Ciara Thompson, Traditional Song as Cultural Heritage Research Cluster


Friday, June 3rd

16:00 Check in to accommodation

16:30 Conference check-in– IWA Foyer

 17:00 Welcome and Opening Address­ ­– IWA Foyer

 18:00 Welcome dinner – The Pavilion

 19:30 Informal singing session – The Pavilion


Saturday, June 4th

 ITMA Pop-Up Archive:

ITMA staff will present a Pop-Up Archive on Saturday 4 June as part of the conference. Find the Pop-Up Archive in the IWA Foyer. 

The Pop-Up will include specially selected song related audiovisual recordings from the ITMA collections, advice from staff on searching and accessing collections, and a selection of books and recordings for sale.

9:45-10:00 Welcome Address – IWA Theatre 1

10:00-11:00 Panel 1

Panel 1: Frameworks for Tradition  – IWA Theatre 1

Chair: Ciara Thompson 

David Atkinson: Folk Song and the Modalities of Canon Formation 

Verena Commins: From Delia Murphy to John Reilly: Commemorating Ireland’s song tradition

 11:00-11:30 Tea/Coffee – IWA Foyer

11:30-13:00 Panels 2 and 3


Panel 2: Song Subjects – IWA Theatre 1

Chair: Ian Russell 

Panel 3: Collectors – IWA Theatre 2

Chair: Steve Roud

 Ciara Thompson 

A Reflection on Lullaby Texts, 1900-1960

 Megan Holly Burns 

‘These songs breathe the spirit of revolution’: The Political Songs of Glasgow’s Proletarian Sunday Schools

 Meg Hyland 

Irish and Scottish Song Exchange in the Scottish Herring Industry’

 Brian Peters 

Travellers, Transcriptions and Tune Families

 Martin Graebe

The Good Neighbour; Sabine Baring-Gould and the Folk Songs of Cornwall

 Paul Mansfield & Hugh Miller 

Framing the Collectors: the collector-singer relationship in historical and comparative perspective

 13:00-14:30 Lunch – The Pavilion

 14:30-15:30 Panel 4

Panel 4: Singers, Songwriters, and Performers – IWA, Theatre 1

Chair: Sandra Joyce

 Marge Steiner Online

 The French Irishman’: Persona and Performance Practice of a New Brunswick Traditional Singer

 John Baxter

Selling beefsteak? Felix McGlennon, commercial song-writing and the traditional repertoire

15:30-16:00 Tea/Coffee – IWA Foyer

 16:00-17:00 Panel 4 (cont.)


Panel 4 (cont.): Singers, Songwriters, and Performers PART 2 – IWA Theatre 1

Chair: Sandra Joyce 

 Julia Bishop (Online)

 ‘Villikins and his Dinah’: Mapping the Wandering Minstrel’s Melody in Britain, Ireland and Beyond


Accessing Our Heritage – a Q&A session with the curators of our folk collections– IWA Theatre 1

 Chair: Tiffany Hore and Steve Roud

 The Federation of Folk and Traditional Music Collections (FFTMC) is a relatively new co-operative umbrella organisation which seeks to provide a point of contact between archives, libraries, museums, and other organisations, which hold collections of traditional song and music and related subjects., to encourage communication, co-ordination and mutual support.  Its membership includes repositories, large and small, across England, Ireland, Scotland Wales. See our website for a current list of members:

 Representatives of several of our member institutions will be present in Limerick, or online, for a panel where researchers and students can ask questions or make suggestions; about archive practice, the whereabouts of materials, how to access collections, and so on.

 18:00 Dinner – The Pavilion

 20:00 Evening Concert – IWA Theatre 2

Join us for a concert of traditional songs from Ireland, Britain and Beyond. Singers include: MacDara Yeates (Dublin), Grace Toland (Inishowen), Brian Doyle (Dublin & Inishowen), Martin and Shan Graebe (England), Ceara Conway (Connemara), Brian Peters (England), Muireann Ní Cheannabháin (Dublin/Connemara), Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin (Dublin/Connemara) and more! This concert is free and open to the public. Bean an Tí: Kara O’Brien. 


Sunday, June 5th

 9:45   Welcome Address – IWA Theatre 1

 10:00-11:00 Panel 5

Panel 5: Community and Identity – IWA Theatre 1

Chair: Martin Graebe 

 Peter Toner: Irish Songs and Irish Identity in the Miramichi Folksong Canon

 Carrie Erving: Wild Roving: “Indie” Perspectives on Traditional Ballads

 11:00-11:30 Tea/Coffee – IWA Foyer

  11:30-13:00 Panel 6

Panel 6: Experiencing Traditions – IWA Theatre 1

Chair: Sandra Joyce

 Elen Keen (online): ‘Tra Bo Dau’ (Wherever Hearts Are True) – The Song That Rekindled An Interest In Welsh Folk Music

Gwenen Gibbard (online): The lesser known Welsh language folk-songs and ballads of the Llŷn and Eifionydd areas of north west Wales’

 Jim Carroll: Hack or Haymaker – Who Made Our Folksongs?

  13:00-14:30 Lunch – The Pavilion

  14:30-15:30 Panel 7

Panel 7: Carols and Carolling – IWA Theatre 1

Chair: David Atkinson  

Ian Russell: Carolling at Kilmore, County Wexford, and Twelfth NightKate Neale: ‘Peculiar to certain villages’: Repertoire selection and development in Cornish carol traditions

 Kate Neale: ‘Peculiar to certain villages’: Repertoire selection and development in Cornish carol traditions

15:30-16:00 Tea/Coffee – IWA Foyer

 16:00-17:00 Panel 8

Panel 8: Songs and Place – IWA Theatre 1

Chair: Ciara Thompson

Colleen Savage: A second life for The Lost Songs of the Border – Amhráin Chaillte na Teorann

 Niall Wall: Connected By Water, Song and Time – Shared Songs in the North Atlantic’

 Closing Remarks

 18:00 Farewell dinner – The Pavilion

 19:30 Informal singing session – The Pavilion


Monday, June 6th

 10:00 Departure for optional Limerick Bus Tour

 12:00 Arrival at Glen Tavern for optional lunch and singing session. 


Panel 1: Frameworks for Tradition

 David Atkinson (Elphinstone Institute)

Folk Song and the Modalities of Canon Formation

However one chooses to define ‘folk song’, as either product or process, it is probably impossible to think about it without having some examples in mind – that is to say, examples that fall either within or without a folk song canon. There is, in consequence, an inevitable circularity to thinking about the subject. This paper looks at the process of canon formation in general, by describing the different relations that can exist between instances and universals. It then goes on to identify the coexistence of different relations within different versions of the folk song canon, using as examples the Child ballads and the Roud indexes. Some folk songs, it turns out, may be better than others. This study does not answer the question ‘what is a folk song?’, but it does shed some light on the thinking that underlies it.


Verena Commins (National University of Ireland, Galway)

From Delia Murphy to John Reilly: Commemorating Ireland’s song tradition

What is Ireland’s song tradition and how do we celebrate and commemorate it? This paper examines the celebration of Irish traditional singers and songs through the prism of monumentalisation. Monuments operate as sites of memory where interpretations of the past are both collected and constituted. Through their materiality and physical presence in public squares and crossroads they confer legitimacy upon their subject matter, elevating the tradition they celebrate. Informed by research documenting public monuments, plaques and statues raised to Irish traditional musicians, singers and dancers, this paper specifically asks who are the singers and what are the songs deemed worthy of commemoration and by whom? The role of gender, space and place in the process and politics of remembering invites perspectives on the past as well as reflections on contemporary commemorative interpretations of the song tradition.


Panel 2: Song Subjects

 Ciara Thompson (University of Limerick)

A Reflection on Lullaby Texts, 1900-1960

Lullabies have historically seen disproportionate appearance compared to other subgenres of traditional song. This gap has been noted repeatedly over the centuries, with both George Petrie and Patrick Weston Joyce commenting on the lack of inquiry around the genre, and their scarcity of inclusion within nineteenth-century Irish traditional song publications (Petrie, 1855; Joyce, 1873). James Orchard Halliwell’s The Nursery Rhymes of England (Halliwell 1842) is an anomaly and treasure of its time. Much like Opie and Opie’s The Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Opie and Opie, 1951), however, there is a melange of Children’s repertoire through which to sift before encountering any lullabies.

We see some increase of interest in lullabies through several twentieth-century Irish, British, and American publications, including outputs from Adelaide Gosset (Gosset, 1915) and Leslie Daiken (Daiken, 1959). These sources give a rich account of the repertoire itself, and invaluable testimony of their culturally connective character. This paper will give the spotlight to these authors by presenting several lullaby texts dating from 1900-1960. In doing so it will illustrate an early twentieth-century outlook on the genre so that we can better understand and appreciate their historical placement and development through time. 


Megan Holly Burns (Oxford Brookes University)

‘These songs breathe the spirit of revolution’: The Political Songs of Glasgow’s Proletarian Sunday Schools 

This paper explores the political songs of Glasgow’s Proletarian Sunday Schools and their place in the long-standing tradition of Scottish labour song. The Proletarian Sunday School (PSS) movement was established in Glasgow in 1911 as a more radical alternative to the already-existing Socialist Sunday Schools. PSSs provided supra-curricular education for the children of working-class families, aiming to foster a militant class-consciousness in their pupils while advocating strongly for socialist revolution.

Through an exploration of the PSS Proletarian Songbook (1919), this paper argues that political songs were a crucial tool in the revolutionary education of PSS pupils. The content of PSS songs educated children about Marxist fundamentals and revolutionary struggle across the world, including Ireland. The Songbook’s opening text is James Connolly’s ‘Rebel Song’, reflecting the socialist comradeship between Glasgow and Dublin in the early 20th century.

PSS songs belong to a strong tradition of Scottish labour songs, but remain understudied. This paper therefore attempts to draw attention to a greatly neglected—yet significant—area of Scottish labour song history, and its overlap with Ireland’s labour movement.


 Meg Hyland (University of Edinburgh)

Irish and Scottish Song Exchange in the Scottish Herring Industry

During the first half of the 20th century, Irish and Scottish women both worked as itinerant herring gutters and packers in the Scottish herring industry. Speakers of Scottish Gaelic, Scots, Irish and English worked side by side in the gutting yards. The Irish women (and, often overlooked, Irish men) came primarily from County Donegal and County Down, while the Scottish women came from the Hebrides, the Northern Isles, and the East Coast. Manx, Scandinavian and English women formed a minority part of this workforce too.

This multicultural and multilingual environment fostered musical exchange. My research focuses on the role that music and particularly song played in these workers’ lives. Gutters sang while working in the yards and while dancing in their huts on Saturday nights. Through working in oral history archives and through conducting ethnographic fieldwork, I have found evidence of the musical influence of Irish workers on their Scottish counterparts. In this talk I will discuss the ways that Irish workers influenced the musical repertoire of Scottish workers in the herring industry from roughly 1900 to 1975.



Panel 3: Collectors

Brian Peters (Independent Scholar) 

Travellers, Transcriptions and Tune Families

The traditional Gypsy singer May Bradley of Ludlow, Shropshire, had her repertoire recorded on audio tape by the collector Fred Hamer between 1959 and 1965.  Possibly her most striking song is the starkly cruel carol ‘On Christmas Day’, relating the fate at the hands of Christ himself of a poor ploughman who breaks the proscriptions of the Holy Day.  Hamer recorded it from her twice.

Using this song as its starting point, this paper will explore the variations in melody executed by the singer herself, and the choices Hamer made in arriving at his published transcription.  To examine generational song transmission, a comparison is made between May Bradley’s performances and the notations of this and other songs from her mother, Esther Smith, which were transcribed about 50 years earlier by Ralph Vaughan Williams from Ella Mary Leather’s cylinder recordings.

On a broader scale, the relationship is discussed between the ‘On Christmas Day’ melody, and other examples of the same tune family, which was commonly used for the carols of the Herefordshire Gypsies who worked on the hop-fields in the 1900s, and also crops up in other English traditional songs from ‘Georgie’ to ‘Searching for Lambs’.  Field recordings will be included.



Martin Graebe (Traditional Song Forum)

The Good Neighbour; Sabine Baring-Gould and the Folk Songs of Cornwall

Attention has customarily focused on the songs that Baring-Gould collected in Devon but, while they form the greater proportion of his collection, his own interest also embraced Cornwall. Most of his collecting was done within a day’s journey from his home at Lewtrenchard and only occasionally did he make overnight trips beyond this limit. Nonetheless, the 158 songs in his collection still form the largest single body of songs collected in Cornwall.

He was an active member of the Royal Cornwall Institution, of which he was twice President, and worked closely with Cornish colleagues on many aspects of the culture of the county, including its history, archaeology, hagiography, and folklore, as well as folk song. He wrote several books about the county and it provided the setting for many of his best-selling novels.

This presentation will focus on his collection of folk songs in Cornwall, describing the excursions that he made and some of the singers that he met. I will look at the way that he shared the songs through his publications and in the series of concerts that he organised in the county. I will also look at his legacy of song and its impact on Cornish culture.


Paul Mansfield (Independent Scholar) and Hugh Miller (Independent Scholar)

Framing the Collectors: the collector-singer relationship in historical and comparative perspective

Collecting music from source singers always involves differences of perspectives, intentions and interpretations between the collector and the source. We propose that applying a sociological lens to collecting in different times and places can produce new insights into these aspects.

Using ideas from Erving Goffman’s Frames Analysis can help to understand differences of perspective and how they may have influenced the collecting process. Goffman’s basic idea of the frame refers to each actor’s interpretation of ‘what’s going on here?’ Actors may operate within a single frame, or nest of frames, or they may have different ideas of what is going on. Part of the work of negotiating an interaction may be in coming to an agreement about which frame applies, or coming to a complementary arrangement between different frames.

The concept of the frame can be used at a variety of levels. To understand the collector-singer relationship as an historically and socially situated phenomenon, as well as an interpersonal encounter, we apply the frame concept to the historical and national contexts of collecting as an activity. These wider frames can be understood as influential on collector-singer interactions.


Panel 4: Singers, Songwriters, and Performers, Part 1


Marge Steiner (Indiana University Bloomington) 

The French Irishman’: Persona and Performance Practice of a New Brunswick Traditional Singer

The intersection of Francophone and Celtic musical practices is well known in the Canadian Maritimes.  In this paper, I will focus on Allan Kelly.  Known as “The French Irishman” in the lumberwoods, he could strategically maneuver between Francophone and Miramichi/Irish identities and do so seamlessly, depending on the context.  As someone who was culturally competent in both Francophone and Anglophone milieux he could juggle identities as needed, –whether at home, among neighbours, in the lumberwoods, or at festival events.  I will show how he adapted his persona and practice through repertoire choices, language spoken, and even his use of song translation.  Allan Kelly, the master singer, with a repertoire of over 300 songs in both French and English, thus came to be regarded as a star singer in both Anglophone and Francophone contexts.  


John Baxter (Open University)

Selling beefsteak? Felix McGlennon, commercial song-writing and the traditional repertoire

Felix McGlennon (1855-1943) was a publisher and prolific Music Hall songwriter in the 1890s and 1900s. Born in Glasgow, son of an Irish shoemaker, McGlennon established a song-writing and publishing business in Manchester and later London. He forged lucrative links with American publishers and his songs enjoyed great success on that side of the Atlantic.

He notoriously said: “the commercial songwriter production of songs is just as much a business as selling beefsteaks” and he demonstrated this by turning out thousands of songs on just about any subject. Many of his most successful pieces glorified the British Armed Forces and British Empire, but he also wrote and published Irish Nationalist songs in cheap songbooks, an activity which led to a conflict with the British authorities.

His songs feature in the repertoire of traditional singers throughout the Anglophone world, notably: Comrades (Roud 1494), The Ship I love (Roud 1707) and Grace Darling (Roud 1441).  It has been argued that his cheap Irish songbooks, published between the two World Wars, were an important influence on the transmission of Irish traditional repertoire both at home and in the Irish diaspora. My talk will attempt to assess the impact of both his songs and publishing activity on traditional singing. 


Julia Bishop (University of Aberdeen)

‘Villikins and his Dinah’: Mapping the Wandering Minstrel’s Melody in Britain, Ireland and Beyond

This paper focuses on a cluster of songs, tunes, people and performances relating to the well-known song ‘Villikins and his Dinah’ (Roud 271). I will review accounts of the emergence of the song on the mid-19th century London stage, as part of The Wandering Minstrel, attempting to shed new light on these ‘origin’ stories. This forms part of a wider effort to map some of the probable or potential connections of the song’s various dimensions, both before and after this time. The exploration will traverse many borders, and will try to attend to the lived experiences of individuals, within and beyond Britain and Ireland, across time, and in an array of social and cultural contexts, including spheres of music-making. The richness of the material means that it can at best be only a snapshot but its complexity invites us to reflect on the ways in which we conceive of songs and their multi-faceted connections, and the kinds of understandings we are seeking.


Accessing Our Heritage – A Q&A session with the curators of our folk collection

 The Federation of Folk and Traditional Music Collections (FFTMC) is a relatively new co-operative umbrella organisation which seeks to provide a point of contact between archives, libraries, museums, and other organisations, which hold collections of traditional song and music and related subjects., to encourage communication, co-ordination and mutual support.  Its membership includes repositories, large and small, across England, Ireland, Scotland Wales. See our website for a current list of members:

 Representatives of several of our member institutions will be present in Limerick, or online, for a panel where researchers and students can ask questions or make suggestions; about archive practice, the whereabouts of materials, how to access collections, and so on.

Panel 5: Community and Identity

 Peter Toner (St. Thomas University)

Irish Songs and Irish Identity in the Miramichi Folksong Canon

With ⅔ of all immigrants to New Brunswick between 1815 and 1865 coming from Ireland, it has been said that “no group played a more important role in shaping the destiny of the province than the Irish” (Spray 1988: 9), and by 1871 35% of the province’s entire population claimed Irish origins (Acheson 1988: 41). The Irish in the Miramichi region of New Brunswick have long been regarded as one of the province’s “backbone” Irish communities (P.M. Toner 1988: 126; Mannion 1974), and have retained many distinctive aspects of Irish cultural identity into the 21st century. The Miramichi is also distinctive in being home to a distinctive folk song tradition, which was the product of Scottish, Acadian, and Irish cultural influences, and which developed during the 19th and early 20th centuries in the region’s lumbercamps. In this paper I will examine both archival and ethnographic materials to reveal the particular (and sometimes peculiar) ways in which Irish songs contributed to the Miramichi folksong canon. I will argue that processes of cultural selection and invention have been and continue to be essential components of both canon formation, and in the strategic development and maintenance of cultural identity in “Canada’s Irish Capital”.


 Carrie Erving (University of Limerick) 

Wild Roving: “Indie” Perspectives on Traditional Ballads

What can contemporary artists bring to a traditional ballad to make it “their own,” and how do artists who play at the edges of multiple genres help to bring new perspectives to the tradition? In this presentation, I investigate the “reworking” of traditional songs by contemporary artists who push genre boundaries in their music, including Bonny Light Horseman, Offa Rex, and Lankum. This paper examines the details of different vocal approaches used by contemporary singers to interpret ballads in ways that both reference and depart from more “traditional” styles of ballad singing. Artistic choices around instrumentation, musical arrangement, and studio production will also be explored. Finally, this paper poses questions about how the social influence of musical communities, venues, and the music industry helps to shape the current understanding of what constitutes an “indie” sound within the folk music landscape


Panel 6: Experiencing Traditions

Elen Keen (Bangor University)

‘Tra Bo Dau’ (Wherever Hearts Are True) – The Song That Rekindled An Interest In Welsh Folk Music

‘Tra Bo Dau’ (Wherever hearts are true) – a tune that is regarded as the finest Welsh folk song and one that has some Irish resemblance, was transcribed by Professor J. Lloyd Williams (1854-1945) from his wife and sister-in-law’s singing ca. 1903-1904. As part of the University College of North Wales, Bangor’s St. David’s Day Celebrations (1905) J. Lloyd Williams composed a SATB arrangement of the melody for his students – the first time that he had arranged a tune drawn from the oral tradition, and the outcome had far-reaching consequences. 

This paper aims to examine J. Lloyd Williams’ unique and invaluable contribution as Music Director of the University College of North Wales Bangor (1902-1913), focusing on the discovery made during the St. David’s Day Celebrations (1905) which led to the formation of the ‘Canorion’, the society established by him along with the Irish Principal, Sir Harry Reichel, for the purpose of collecting, studying and performing traditional Welsh melodies. Following its success at Bangor, further societies were formed ensuring that the songs of Welsh peasants were performed at public functions in towns and cities in Wales, England and even Paris. 


Gwenen Gibbard (Bangor University)

The lesser known Welsh language folk-songs and ballads of the Llŷn and Eifionydd areas of north west Wales

In Wales there has always been a special relationship between music and poetry and our centuries old folk-songs reflect the rich diversity of our history and landscape whilst conveying the sincere and inner most thoughts and feelings of our people. 

Taking inspiration and guidance from the archive of lifelong researchers in the field of Welsh traditional music, namely Dr Meredydd Evans and Phyllis Kinney, I have been focusing on studying lesser known and previously unpublished collections of Welsh language folk-songs and ballads by two significant collectors: Gwilym y Rhos and Thomas Rowlands – both from the predominantly Welsh speaking areas of the Llŷn Peninsula and neighbouring Eifionydd.  A reflection of a rural and simple way of life in the first half of the 20th century, the songs stem from close-knit communities and speak of local characters and happenings, religion, traditions and family values, political and social change, shipwrecks and major developments in modes of transport.

As a researcher and as a folk singer my goal is to restore knowledge and pride in these local songs and, through further research, to reintroduce them, together with other lost songs, to the Welsh folk-song repertoire.  


Jim Carroll (Independent Scholar) 

Hack or Haymaker – who made our folksongs?

While I believe this question will never be answered definitively, I think it to be important enough to be revisited occasionally to examine any new information that may have been uncovered. Pat’s and my time in The Critics Group inspired us to ‘lift the corner’ to see what lay beneath our chosen field of interest, traditional songs, stories and music. Our time spent with source singers, particularly those from the Irish Travelling Community has enabled us to fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge, it is some of this additional information I would like to cover today.


Panel 7: Carols and Carolling

Ian Russell (Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen) 

Carolling at Kilmore, County Wexford, and Twelfth Night

The eminent Irish folksong collector, Tom Munnelly, often mused on the remarkable tradition at Kilmore: ‘There’s some folk in Ireland sing on the white notes and some on the black, and some can even manage both, but these guys can sing in the gaps!’. There has been much discussion and documentation of the Kilmore carolling tradition from County Wexford and its history. I refer, in particular, to the studies by Father Joseph Ransom (1949), by Diarmaid Ó Muirithe and Seoirse Bodley (1982), and the oral history documentation of Harry Bradshaw (RTÉ, 1981). The main aim of this paper is to provide an update of the tradition based on my fieldwork in Kilmore since 2006, noting changes, clarifying details, and correcting misconceptions. I also consider the singing tradition in the wider social context of Twelfth Night celebrations. A digression into the early history looks at the influences in singing style, performance, melodic form, and touches on textual sources


Kate Neale (Cardiff University’s School of Music)

‘Peculiar to certain villages’: Repertoire selection and development in Cornish carol traditions”

Cecil Sharpe once described village carol repertoires as ‘private possessions of great value, to be jealously guarded and retained for their own use’ (Sharp, 1911). This paper explores the processes of collection, publication and selection within song traditions that result in these hyper-localised repertoires. 

Specifically, I examine two local Christmas carolling traditions within Cornwall, UK, and their counterparts in the Cornish diasporic communities in Grass Valley in California, and the Copper Triangle in South Australia. Emerging from a broader British tradition of 18th century fuging psalmody, I show how, over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, local collection, publication and community selection have resulted in the development of geographically defined traditions that, while interconnected through this common root, now maintain distinct repertoires.

I then argue that these song practices offer an opportunity to observe the ongoing inscription of socio-cultural values and narratives: from embedding migrant histories within new national contexts, to articulating Cornish rather than English identities, down to distinctions of repertoire between performing groups within the same town.

I conclude by examining how these continuing processes, via contemporary revivals and publications, serve to both support and destabilise the ongoing performance and custodianship of these local repertoires. 


Panel 8: Songs and Place


Colleen Savage (Dundalk Institute of Technology)

A second life for The Lost Songs of the Border – Amhráin Chaillte na Teorann

The early twentieth century song collections of John Hannon of Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh provide a remarkable insight into the local song repertoire and social history of the area at that time. My research builds upon the research by Dr Gearóid Trimble (2016) that focused on the linguistic and social history importance of the collection, seeking to reintroduce the repertoire into performance. The focus of this paper, is The Lost Songs of the Border Project, which connected with local community groups and included a number of workshops to share and perform the songs. 

The songs in the Hannon collection are in the Irish language but were mainly written out phonetically. They capture and preserve a local dialect of the language but also document local history and social activities as collected by Hannon from a network of over local 50 informants that belonged to the last generation of native speakers living in the greater Crossmaglen district. Allied with an interest in the Irish language, I, as part of a group that seek to re-establish these songs in the repertoire by connecting them with airs from historical sources or composing new airs for the lyrics in the collection. This talk will examine processes for the creative engagement with archival sources to date, informed by the concept of the second life of folklore, and compositional and performance practice.


Niall Wall (Independent Scholar)

Connected By Water, Song and Time – Shared Songs in the North Atlantic’

Displayed in Rome’s Vatican Museum are early-sixteenth century maps of the North Atlantic. Locations in Newfoundland are prominent on these maps, demonstrating the early importance of the island, explained by its abundant Cod fishery, a long-time important source of protein for Europeans, and its apt Irish name, “Talamh an Éisc”. Following the Treaty of Utrecht the Island was dominated by traders and settlers from South-west England and later from Ireland’s South-eastern counties. Currently, half of Newfoundland’s population trace their ancestry to Britain and half from Ireland. It was natural that the singing traditions of the two eastern islands would have influenced the western isle and there has been an eastern transfer with numerous songs in Irish and British traditions that originated in Newfoundland. Clear evidence of the connections are available in the Child Collection, Maud Karpeles important 1920’s work and many more recent Newfoundland and European publications. Illustrations of the international connections are bountiful in individual songs including the many versions of “The Banks of Newfoundland” and probably best appreciated in the singing of the epic ballad, “The Flying Cloud”, with variants of the song being found on almost every English speaking coast of the North Atlantic. 


DAVID ATKINSON is the author of The Ballad and its Pasts: Literary Histories and the Play of Memory (2018), The Anglo-Scottish Ballad and its Imaginary Contexts (2014), and The English Traditional Ballad: Theory, Method, and Practice (2002). He has co-edited (with Steve Roud) Printers, Pedlars, Sailors, Nuns: Aspects of Street Literature (2020), Street Literature and the Circulation of Songs (2019), Cheap Print and the People: Popular Culture in the European Perspective (2019), Street Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century: Producers, Sellers, Consumers (2017), and Street Ballads in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Ireland, and North America (2014), (with Andrew C. Rouse) Ethnic Mobility in Ballads (2017), and (with Ian Russell) Folk Song: Tradition, Revival, and Re-Creation (2004). He is the editor of Folk Music Journal, Honorary Research Fellow at the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, and Executive Secretary of the Kommission für Volksdichtung (Ballad Commission).

JOHN BAXTER John Baxter is the Qualification Director for the BA/BSc Open Honours degree at the Open University and has interests in interdisciplinary teaching and research. In recent years he has been pursuing a project tracing the links between music hall and folk songs in the anglophone world. His website http://folksongandmusichall.

com/aims to find the stories behind the songs and to encourage people to consider singing them. The site is growing, and includes information on over 500 songs. The work has particularly addressed the role of songwriters in the production of music hall songs.

MEGAN BURNS is a PhD researcher at Oxford Brookes University. Her project collects and examines working-class poetry from Glasgow’s Red Clydeside period. Prior to this, Megan studied at the universities of Oxford and Glasgow. Her research interests include Glasgow’s literary tradition and contemporary working-class literature.

 JULIA BISHOP is a folklorist with specialisms in traditional song and in childlore. She is an honorary research fellow at the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen and a part-time research associate in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield. Julia has extensive experience of fieldwork in Newfoundland where she focused on local songmaking, and among children in the UK where she has studied musical play. This is complemented by historical and comparative research, with a particular interest in musical analysis and vernacular musicianship. She leads the team working on a critical edition of the J. M. Carpenter Collection and co-edited The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs with Steve Roud (2012).

  JIM CARROLL, originally from Liverpool, now living in Miltown Malbay, Co Clare has been involved in folk song since early 1960s.With his partner, Pat Mackenzie, whom he met when they were members of Ewan MacColl’s Critics Group, Jim spent thirty years recordings songs stories and music from source performers, their time in The Critics Group inspired them to gather as much background information as possible from those they recorded.

Their informants were largely from: East Anglia, West Clare and the Irish Traveller Community in the Greater London Area. Their collection is housed with The Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin and partially with the National Sound Archive at The British Library, London. Many of the songs and tunes collected in Clare and London can be heard on the Clare County Library website,,

VERENA COMMINS is a lecturer at the Centre for Irish Studies in NUI Galway and specialises in Irish Music Studies. Current research interests include gender, masculinities and public representations of Irish traditional music through festival, commemoration and the visual arts. She is co-editor of the 2019 special issue of Éire-Ireland: an Interdisciplinary Journal of Irish Studies on ‘Music and Ireland’ and the 2021 special issue of Ethnomusicology Ireland on ‘Women and Traditional/Folk Music’ (2021).

 CARRIE ERVING Carrie Erving is a singer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and Professor of Voice, Songwriting and Music Technology at Roc Nation School of Music at LIU-Brooklyn. She developed a love of writing and performing rock and folk songs while earning her bachelor’s degree in classical voice from Ithaca College, and traveled to Ireland to earn a master’s degree in Irish Traditional Song from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. As a Lincoln Center teaching artist, she has worked primarily with students in Title 1 schools in New York City, and spearheaded the integration of music production technology in Lincoln Center’s residencies in the classroom. For several years she has been an active member in groups that support the creation of music made by female-identifying, trans, and non-binary artists, and has helped support their workshops and showcases, including a showcase at SXSW. As a rock musician, she has played numerous venues and festivals, including The Late Show with David Letterman, SXSW, Northside Festival, CMJ, National Sawdust, Baby’s All Right, Bowery Ballroom, and Rough Trade. A sought-after voice in the NYC Irish music community, she has performed as a featured singer at events including Bloomsday on Broadway (Symphony Space), the Appel Room at Lincoln Center, and 92nd Street Y. Her music has been featured on WNYC’s New Sounds, NPR’s Radiolab and BBC Radio. She currently lives in Brooklyn and performs under the moniker Shrines, and has worked with a wide array of artists, including Yo-Yo Ma and members of Arcade Fire. She is a PhD Arts Practice candidate at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, researching multi-genre singing and composition.

GWENEN GIBBARD Gwenan Gibbard stands at the forefront of today’s thriving Welsh traditional music scene with her unique, contemporary arrangements of Welsh traditional music and songs in the Welsh language.  She also specialises in the unique art of ‘Cerdd Dant’, the ancient form of singing Welsh poetry to the accompaniment of the harp, and is one of the few people who performs this music self-accompanied on the harp. Her performances have been far and wide, in numerous festivals and concerts in several countries, including Canada, North and South America, Hong Kong and Europe, and she has released three solo albums on the Sain label.

Having graduated in Music from Bangor University, she then continued to study for an MA degree in Welsh music before studying the harp at the Royal Academy of Music. She is currently studying for a PhD degree, having been awarded a scholarship by the National Library of Wales Aberystwyth, Bangor University and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, and she will focus on the archives of Dr Meredydd Evans and Phyllis Kinney and their contributions to Welsh folk music.

MARTIN GRAEBE is an independent researcher, writer, and singer, who has studied and written about a number of aspects of traditional song. His book As I Walked Out; Sabine Baring-Gould and the Search for the Folk Songs of Devon and Cornwall (Signal Books, 2017) has received both the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award and the W. G Hoskins Prize. He has been the Secretary of the Traditional Song Forum since its inception. Martin and his wife, Shan, sing traditional songs together, mostly unaccompanied and in harmony. Their repertoire is based mainly on the traditional songs of southern England, with particular emphasis on those collected by Sabine Baring-Gould. For more information about Martin’s research and publications see

 MEG HYLAND is a PhD candidate in Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Her PhD research focuses on the musical lives of the people who worked as itinerant herring gutters and packers in the British and Irish fishing industries from the mid-19th to the mid-20thcentury. Looking at a variety of topics from gutting song to workers’ dances, she aims to understand what role music played in bringing together this diverse workforce.

 PAUL MANSFIELD is an independent researcher and writer with a particular interest in the characteristics of the contemporary English folk club scene. He is currently involved in a multidisciplinary project researching the operation of online folk clubs during the pandemic. Having started out as a History student, in recent years Paul graduated from Sheffield University’s Ethnomusicology programme in Traditional Music of Britain and Ireland. His day job is an Associate Lecturer in the School of Health, Social Care and Psychology at the University of Derby. 

 HUGH MILLER has been involved in traditional music, one way or another, since the early 60s, and was involved, in a small way, in Topic Records’ ‘Music from Sliabh Luachra’ project in the 1970s. He spent nearly forty years teaching Psychology at Nottingham Trent University, and became interested in applying Erving Goffman’s ideas when researching how people presented themselves online in the early days of the World Wide Web. Nowadays he’s developing his storytelling in preparation for the time when he can’t sing any more.

 ELEN WYN KEEN is a doctoral student at the School of Arts, Culture and Language, Bangor University researching into the far-reaching contributions Dr. John Lloyd Williams (1854-1945) made to the world of folk song in Wales. Elen received an M.Phil. degree for her research on the same subject during which she was inspired to explore further into his life and work and she is now focussing on the vocal arrangements of folk tunes and the operettas he composed. Articles based on her research were published in Canu Gwerin (The Welsh Folk Song Society Journal) and the Welsh Music History journal and she also teaches modules on Welsh Music at Bangor University.

KATE NEALE Kate Neale’s PhD, completed in 2018, concentrated on the transfer and development of Cornish Christmas carolling repertoire and traditions to diasporic communities in California and South Australia, with a particular focus on the development and deployment of heritage narratives. Since returning to Cornwall that year, she has continued her interest in community carolling practices both at home and abroad, alongside working in communications and involvement in range of voluntary projects. 

 BRIAN PETERS is a professional singer, musician and researcher, who has presented papers at EFDSS conferences on the evolution of ‘The Wild Rover’, Cecil Sharp’s Appalachian collection, and Racial Diversity in North American folk song.  The first two were published as longer articles in the Folk Music Journal.  Brian also wrote a chapter entitled ‘Creativity versus Authenticity in the English Folk Song Revival’ for the Routledge Guide to English Folk Performance, and has given several online lectures to the Traditional Song Forum.  He also co-presented ‘Sharp’s Appalachian Harvest’ – a musical, visual and narrative account of Cecil Sharp’s travels, at the Library of Congress, Washington DC.

 IAN RUSSELL is the former Director of the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen (1999–2014). This institute specialises in the ethnology and folklore of Northern Scotland. His current research is focused on the traditional culture of NE Scotland, including singing and instrumental traditions, and festivalisation. He edited Folk Music Journal (1980–1993) and was awarded the Coote Lake Research Medal by the Folklore Society in 1987. Since 1969 he has conducted extensive fieldwork into singing traditions in the English Pennines, especially Christmas carolling, and has published widely. He is the founder and Director of the Festival of Village Carols, and the President of the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention.

 COLLEEN SAVAGE is a traditional singer from Crossmaglen, Co Armagh.  With a growing interest in the Irish Language and a personal wish to grow her Gaelic song repertoire, she has been working as part of a group to re-establish a collection of songs into the local repertoire, based on the research of Dr. Gearóid Trimble, entitled The Lost Songs of the Border Project. Colleen is also a songwriter, a qualified tour guide providing intangible cultural heritage experiences based on local literature, music and song; a storyteller and an events planner in the arts within her local community.  Colleen sits on the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership.

 MARGE STEINER received her Ph.d in folklore from Indiana University in 1988, and her thesis was an ethnography of singing of Newtownbutler, a border community in Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.  Through participant-observation during “singsongs” and by recording interviews with singers, she documented how both Catholics and Protestants, during the height of “The Troubles,” used singing as a means of conflict management.  She has visited the area periodically, over the years, most recently in 2016, and her field tapes are housed at The Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University.  She has published articles and book chapters on this material.  

 In 1986, she began folksong research in the Miramichi region of New Brunswick, Canada. There were rich traditions of unaccompanied song, much of which surrounded lumbering, the predominant industry  of the area.  Three cultures–Anglophone, Acadian French, and Mi’kmaq–interacted, including musically.  Steiner has published on this material as well, and her field tapes, recorded both at singers’ homes and at the Miramichi Folksong Festival, are hosed at the Canadian Museum of History.  The paper to be presented here concerns Allan Kelly, who was known as “The French Irishman” in the lumberwoods. Along with her colleague Ronald Labelle, she recorded his vast repertoire, both at his home and at the Miramichi Folksong Festival.  She worked with him from 1986 until his death in 2008.  

 CIARA THOMPSON’s research explores the sociological depth and complexity found in lulling traditions. The particular focus of Dr Thompson’s work has centred around Irish traditional lullaby repertoire. This research has seen many exciting intersections, including areas of cross-cultural analysis, education, health and well-being, performative outlets, and historical and contemporary song investigation. Her activity is reflected in several recent written and oral research outputs. Dr Thompson has taught at Glenstal Abbey School, and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. Additionally, she is a core member of the Traditional Song as Intangible Cultural Heritage research cluster, and a co-founder and co-host of the Limerick Singing Session.

 PETER TONER is a social anthropologist and ethnomusicologist at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. He holds a PhD in anthropology from the Australian National University based on his fieldwork on ritual music and social identity in the Yolngu (Aboriginal) community of Gapuwiyak, and completed postdoctoral research at the ANU on the digitization and repatriation of archival field recordings of Yolngu music back to their communities of origin. Since 2005 he has conducted research on traditional music and the construction of Irish cultural identity in New Brunswick, based on both archival and ethnographic materials.

 NIALL WALL  is a traditional singer from Enniscorthy, County Wexford. An All-Ireland winner in both English Singing and Song-writing he has been active for most of his life in the practice and promotion of traditional music and song, as a singer, curator and administrator. Niall also led the community response in a joint Government initiative towards establishing and promoting links between South East Ireland and the Canadian Province of Newfoundland & Labrador.

A Business graduate from University College Dublin Niall also holds an MBA in Professional Arts Management in IT Carlow, including a dissertation on retaining the involvement of young people in traditional music from adolescence to adulthood. He also taught an MA in Irish Studies class at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. USA. Niall can often be heard performing in pubs and on street corners all over Ireland.