TradSong Research Cluster

TradSong Report: Spring 2018

TradSong members had a busy Spring semester. Take a look at what we’ve been doing: 

In January Sandra Joyce joined Academy Associate Director, Niall Keegan, as well as a number of Academy alumni, at a UL focused event at the Irish Arts Centre, New York on January 24th, 2018.  Traditional singers and Irish Traditional Music Performance MA alumni Carrie Erving and Ashley Davis performed traditional songs in English and Irish.  The event was organised by UL International Office and curated by Sandra and Niall.

In February the Irish World Academy hosted the ICTM conference, which included a number of papers by Tradsong Members: 

  • Ciara Thompson delivered a paper entitled “Memories of a Voiceless Narrative: Evidence of the Caregivers’ Voice within Irish Traditional Lullabies” at the ICTM Ireland Conference. The paper explored a number of Irish-language lullabies, examining their lyrics in terms of the caregiver, rather than the child.
  • Kara O’Brien delivered a paper entitled “Merrily As She Trips the Plane: Metaphor and Symbology in Irish Hare-Hunting Songs” at the ICTM Ireland Conference. The paper explored the ways in which metaphor and symbology serve to add layered meanings to Ireland’s hunting songs. 
  • Róisín Ni Ghallóglaigh delivered a paper entitiled “‘An tSeanbhean Bhocht’ and the Moneys Bill Dispute 1752-1756” at the ICTM Ireland Conference. The paper discussed various versions of ‘An tSeanbhean Bhocht’ and the song’s use as both a bawdy song and a political satire. 

Tradsong was also delighted to congratulate our own Eamonn Costello, both for his fantastic work in organising the ICTM conference, and on his promotion to Chair of ICTM Ireland.

Across the Atlantic Carrie Dike delivered a paper entitled “Evolving Continuity: An Exploration of the ‘Traditional’ in the Clare Festival of Traditional Singing,” at The Society for Ethnomusicology, Southern California and Hawaii Chapter Conference. The paper used the Clare Festival of Traditional Singing to illustrate that a deconstruction and reconstruction of tradition can help ensure the sustainability of the social life of Irish traditional singing.

March saw Tradsong scholar Ciara Thompson paper, “The Mason’s Word: Balladry within Lullabies” accepted for publication in the Kommission für Volksdichtung’s (International Ballad Commission) upcoming special edition journal, through Palermo’s Museo Internazionale delle Marionette. Ciara also collaborated with Ceara Conway as  member of the water ensemble in her performance project, “Dóchas/Hope.”  This 20 minute video performance 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.

Also in March Kara O’Brien attended the Inishowen Singing Festival in Ballyliffin, Donegal, as a bursary recipient. This festival showcases the finest in traditional singing, featuring singers from all around Ireland, as well as England, Scotland, and abroad. 

Additionally, Karan Casey’s ongoing work with FairPlé has gained international attention over the month. She took part in the IWA’s Music Industry Day on March 8th, speaking both about FairPlé and her experience as a songwriter. To learn more about FairPlé’s spectacular work, please visit 

In April, Karan Casey completed the first performance of her Arts Practice PhD. Her research is looking into how her own creativity is expressed through her performance of song.

Please join us for one of our events, follow us on twitter at @trad_song, and keep an eye on this page for updates.


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
Éamonn Costello
Róisín Ní Ghallóglaigh
Ciara Thompson
Kara O’Brien
Mary Mclaughlin
Carrie Dike