The Irish Traditional Music Archive (Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann) has begun celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. It was founded at an Arts Council meeting in Dublin on 29 July 1987.
For the anniversary year, 2012 – 2013, the Archive has planned a rolling programme of publications, projects and events. The first of these was launched over the weekend: a brand new batch of content information, bringing the ITMA’s core Irish holdings to 750,000 items of searchable data on Irish traditional music, consisting of the song titles, tune titles and dance titles etc. contained in its commercial sound recordings, printed song collections, instrumental music collections, dance collections and instrumental tutors.
ITMA chairman for the anniversary year, Dermon McLaughlin, has released the following statement to coincide with the start of the anniversary year:
What an amazing resource for the world of music, and a real standard-setter!
Nicholas Carolan, Director of ITMA, deserves a huge round of applause and thanks from all of us in the traditional music world, and indeed from the many thousands of others around the world who have benefitted from ITMA’s work in its first quarter century.
And it has all been made possible by funding from An Chomhairle Ealaíon/The Arts Council, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and many others.
Just as important as funding has been the support of musicians, festivals, collectors, libraries, broadcasters, journalists, archives and countless other individuals, groups and organisations.
Over the last twenty-five years many people have served voluntarily on the Board of ITMA, its governing body, and this has strengthened the bond between this organisation and the people and the music that it serves. Hats off to them all!
I’ve been very fortunate and honoured to have been involved in ITMA from day one (and a wee bit before that!) and am delighted to sit on the Board as Chairman during this important milestone year. I know that I speak for my predecessors - the late Tom Munnelly, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Cathal Goan- when I raise a toast to Nicholas and all the team at ITMA, to the many former Board members, to all the donors, contributors and supporters and above all to the musicians. After all, it’s all about them!
The Archive is operated by a permanent staff of ten, and a number of contract and voluntary staff. Its operations are overseen by a voluntary rotating board of twelve. The collection has been built up by an extensive programme of field-collection, copying and digitisation, and by purchase and donation. It is housed in a Georgian heritage building at 73 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, which has been restored for the Archive by the Office of Public Works.
Not only has the Archive built up the largest collection of information on Irish traditional music fully accessible at its premises, it has also digitally classified, catalogued and indexed that collection onto computer databases which are accessible worldwide over the internet. In recent years the Archive has also put a considerable emphasis on the digitisation of items in the collection for virtual dissemination through its website. This internet publishing has added to the Archive’s other outreach activities: book and audiovisual publications, exhibitions, partnership publications, and especially its television broadcasting cooperation with RTÉ and TG4 on the series Come West along the Road since 1994 and Siar an Bóthar since 2001.
The work of the Irish Traditional Music Archive is made possible by the year-on-year support of its main funders An Chomhairle Ealaíon / The Arts Council in Dublin and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in Belfast, by project funders such as the Heritage Council and the Temple Bar Cultural Trust, by the in-kind support of the Office of Public Works, as well as by individual donors of material, information and money, especially through its support group Friends of the Archive.
Published on 30 July 2012