Marking 20 Years of the Journal of Music

Marking 20 Years of the Journal of Music

First issue was published on the week of 5 November 2000.

This week marks 20 years since the first issue of the Journal of Music (then JMI – The Journal of Music in Ireland) was published. 

The inaugural issue, which arrived in postboxes on 8 November 2000, was a 32-page publication with the aim of publishing ‘new writing on classical, jazz and traditional music in Ireland.’

Cover of the inaugural issue of the Journal of Music.

Founded by Toner Quinn, the magazine’s opening editorial spelt out the aims of the magazine as follows:

The simple aim behind JMI is to provide a space where those involved at the grassroots level of music in Ireland can pool their ideas, let them meet, clash and clatter, and above all progress to create a healthier environment for music-making in Ireland.

The lead article was ‘Death of a Medium’ by the composer Roger Doyle. There was also an essay by Nicholas Carolan on traditional music, and articles by the philosopher Desmond Fennell, composers John McLachlan, Ian Wilson, Fergus Johnston and Frank Corcoran, guitarist Joe Brennan and jazz trumpeter Hugh O’Neill.

The magazine was published in Bray and was established with a grant of €2.5k from the Arts Council after submitting a sample publication. Additional financial support came from the folk singer John Byrne and the late folk musician Steve McGrail in Scotland.

Liz Quinn and Stephen McFarlane packing copies of the magazine in January 2003.

The magazine published writing by a wide range of musicians, composers and artists in subsequent years. In 2006, the designer Simon O’Connor won the Periodical Publishers’ Association of Ireland Designer of the Year award for his work on the magazine, and in 2010 the Journal of Music won the Utne Independent Press Award for Arts Coverage in Washington DC.

One of the award-winning designs by Simon O’Connor in 2006.

The magazine was published bimonthly in print until 2010 – a total of 60 issues – and then moved fully online. From a print-run of one thousand copies in its inaugural year, the Journal of Music now has over a quarter of a million readers worldwide.

In recent years, the publication has run a number of music writer mentoring schemes and has launched a new generation of contributors who write across classical, contemporary, traditional, folk, hip hop, indie, opera, electronic and more.

Commenting on the twenty years, editor Toner Quinn said:

20 years ago this week, the first issue of the Journal of Music was published. Our aim then and now was simply to publish great writing about music. It’s been an incredible two decades, and there’s so much more to do! Thank you to all our readers, writers and supporters, and in particular the Arts Council which has supported the magazine since its inception.

The complete archive of the Journal of Music from 2000 to 2020 is available to readers online and a list of all contributors to the magazine is available here. The editorial staff of the Journal of Music over the years is listed below.

To find out more about the history of the magazine, listen below to an interview on the Contemporary Music Centre’s Amplify podcast with the editor, and an interview on RTÉ Radio 1’s Arts Tonight here. In February of this year, just before the Covid-19 lockdown, the Journal of Music hosted a public discussion on music at the New Music Dublin festival to mark twenty years of publication. Listen to the podcast here.

To support the work of the Journal of Music into the future, please see here.

To sign up to our newsletters, visit

The Journal of Music staff, 2000–2020

Toner Quinn, 2000–2010 / 2015–
Benedict Schlepper-Connolly, 2010–2015

Assistant Editors
Benedict Schlepper-Connolly, 2007–2010
Anna Murray, 2017–2019
Shannon McNamee, 2019 –

Section editors, 2011–12
Stephen Graham (classical music)
Patrick Groenland (improvised music)
Paul O’Connor (traditional music)

Editorial Assistant
Michael Gallen, 2009

Ian McFarlane, Inaugural cover
Lynn Pierce 2001–2004
The Valkyrie, 2004–2005
Simon O’Connor, 2006–2010
Éna Brennan
Lucy O’Reilly

Marketing Executive
Gert Ackermann, 2008–2009

Contributing photographers
Dave Keegan, 2000–2002
Lucy Clarke, 2007–2010

Website developers, 2000–2020
Stephen McFarlane
Simon Doyle 
Benedict Schlepper-Connolly
David Collier
Anna Murray
Daryl Feehely

Special thanks to Liz Quinn for all her work on the Journal of Music over 20 years.

Published on 3 November 2020

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