Concertina Pictures, with a Clare Bias


After the concertina had been introduced to Ireland from Britain by concert recitalists of the 1830s, and was sold, manufactured and taught in Dublin from the 1850s, it spread throughout the country, in various forms, as a mass-produced instrument of popular music. By the end of the century, it had also been taken up widely by players of Irish traditional music, and its adoption coincided with the growing popularity of quadrille-style set dances among traditional dancers.

But the concertina began to fall from favour in the 1920s, eclipsed in most parts of the country by the new louder accordions, and by gramophones as sources of music for dancers. It retained its popularity however in Co Clare, to such an extent that by the 1960s it was being thought of as a purely Clare instrument. This popularity is reflected in the gallery of concertina images presented below from the collections of the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

In the last three or four decades however, with increasing prosperity, the growing availability of high-quality tuition and instruments, and of recordings by virtuoso players, the concertina has once again become a national Irish instrument.

With thanks to photographers and photograph donors Fran O'Rourke, Liam McNulty, Joe Dowdall, Chris Corlett, Orla Henihan, Danny Diamond, Steven de Paoire, & Susie Cox, and to Mick O'Connor for information. ITMA would always welcome the donation of other photographs of concertina players.

NC & TH, 1 February 2014

Concertina Pictures, with a Clare Bias