TradSong Research Cluster

Tradsong Autumn 2018 Bulletin

We’ve had a busy summer and autumn. Take a look at some of the things TradSong scholars have been up to—

We’re thrilled to announce that two of our members received their doctorate degrees in August 2018. We’d like to give our very hearty congratulations to both of them on the completion of their theses: 

  • Dr. Hannah Fahey: Singing Island: an investigation into the experiences of classically trained teachers of singing and the changing landscape of vocal pedagogy in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Dr. Mary McLaughlin: Songs Between Worlds: Enchantment and Entrapment in the Irish Otherworld Song Tradition.

Kara O’Brien presented her paper: ‘Land of Streams and Valleys’: Remembering and Reimagining Place in Traditional Irish Hunting Songs to the Kommission für Volksdichtung/International Ballad Conference, at the Museum of Ethnography, Prague Sep 3rd 2018. 

Our newest member, Felix Morgenstern, published his paper “Voices of ambiguity – The GDR folk music revival movement (1976-1990): exploring lived musical experience and post-war German folk music discourses”, in Folk Life: Journal of Ethnological Studies, 56(2), 116-129, available:

In June, Ciara Thompson delivered her paper “Mo sheod gan chealg is mo chuid den tsaol mhór: The colourful riot of emotion in lullabies” to The Society for the Study of Nineteenth Century Ireland, at their conference – “Happiness in Nineteenth Century Ireland” – at Trinity College Dublin, this paper is being considered for SSNCI’s upcoming publication of the conference proceedings. She then flew over to the US for her wedding in August! 

Ciara also finished her collaboration in Ceara Conway’s Water Ensemble by performing part of “Dóchas:Hope” at Ormston House’s Culture Night event, on September 21st. “Dóchas:Hope” is a 20 minute video performance that was commissioned as part of “Ó Chill Chaoil go Carna” with Oireachtas na Gaeilge, with support from The Arts Council, Waterways Ireland and FLAG West. 

In November, Ciara presented her research as part of the Irish World Academy’s Tower Seminar, “Building Resilience: The Role of Singing for Health and Well-Being.” Ciara is continuously looking for new perspectives on lullabies in parenting, performative, and educational contexts, and would love to hear from anyone who would be interested in contributing to her research. At the moment she would very much appreciate any input on lullabies from fathers, and parents who do not identify as singers.

Sandra Joyce and Niall Keegan visited China, in association with International Education Division, UL, in July 2018. They met with faculty and students at Beijing Sports University and ShanDong University of Technology; the Irish Ambassador and other staff at the Irish Embassy, Beijing; representatives from Education in Ireland; and Academy alumni based in China. They also performed at the Bookworm venue in Beijing, in association with the Irish Embassy.

Sandra Joyce was invited to deliver the 3rd Roy Palmer Lecture at Newcastle University, October 20th.  The lecture was entitled ‘He travelled east and he travelled west’: the contribution of Travellers to Irish traditional song.

Sandra delivered a workshop on traditional singing in St Anne’s Primary School, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick on October 15th, as part of the Songs For Our Children Arts Council of Ireland funded project, curated by Aileen Lambert and Michael Fortune (

Last, but by no means least, Karan Casey released her newest album Hieroglyphs That Tell the Tale on Vertical Records. The album, which sees her back in her original comfort zone of traditional song, imbued with a modern twist, sitting alongside some new self-penned songs, was hailed by the Irish Times as “strikingly three-dimensional…A vivid and dazzling snapshot of Casey invincible, at the height of her powers.”


Traditional song has been one of the core activities of the Irish World Academy since its inception.  Song scholars/performers engaged in research at the Academy have been presenting papers at local and international symposia and conferences for some years and from these roots the research cluster TradSong has formed.  Launched at a special song symposium in October 2015, TradSong reflects the traditional song interests of staff and students at the Academy.  Grounded in academia the cluster is focused on performance, preservation and transmission of traditional song in Ireland.

TradSong’s mission is to provide a forum for sharing expertise on Irish traditional song and related areas.  With performance at the heart of our scholarship we engage with Irish song communities and academics through meetings, symposia, performances and conferences.  There will be an emphasis on producing publications and other events that embrace the wider Irish traditional song community as well as international scholars.  While our current focus is on the Irish and related song traditions, we warmly welcome any scholar who has an interest in our events.


Current Cluster Members
Sandra Joyce
Felix Morgenstern
Éamonn Costello
Róisín Ní Ghallóglaigh
Ciara Thompson
Kara O’Brien
Mary Mclaughlin
Carrie Dike