They Love Music Mightily: Sound Recordings from a UFTM-ITMA Exhibition, 2000

They Love Music Mightily: Sound Recordings from a UFTM-ITMA Exhibition, 2000

Now playing: Tom Mhick’s polka ; Dálaigh’s polka ; Julia Clifford’s polka / Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich, accordion
  1. Tom Mhick’s polka ; Dálaigh’s polka ; Julia Clifford’s polka / Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich, accordion
  2. The flower of Magherally, song / Patricia Flynn, singing in English
  3. Gusty’s frolics, slip jig ; Hardiman the fiddler, slip jig / Paul O’Shaughnessy, fiddle
  4. John Naughton’s reel ; The reel with the birl, reel / Mary MacNamara, concertina
  5. My charming Edward Boyle, song / Rosie Stewart, singing in English
  6. The lost and found jig ; Kimmel’s jig / John Carty, banjo
  7. Cuimhne an phíobaire, air / Seán Potts, whistle
  8. Thiar i gConnachta, song / Treasa Ní Laifeartaigh, singing in Irish
  9. Loftus Jones, harp piece / Paul Dooley, harp
  10. Bessy, the beauty of Rossinure hill, slow air / Gary Hastings, flute
  11. Sliabh geal gCua na féile, song / Éamonn Ó Bróithe, singing in Irish
  12. The banks of Lough Gowna, jig / Ronan Browne, uilleann pipes

They Love Music Mightily: Sound Recordings from a UFTM-ITMA Exhibition, 2000

‘They Love Music Mightily’: Contemporary Recordings of Irish Traditional Music – An Ceol Comhaimseartha was a joint cross-border audiovisual travelling exhibition of the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum in Cultra, Holywood, Co Down, and the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin. It was on display in various venues from 2000 to 2004. The exhibition was intended to emphasise that Irish traditional music is an exciting and varied contemporary artform. It consisted of stands with giant back-lit transparencies of thirteen leading contemporary singers and musicians, and sound recordings on headphones of the featured performers. The title of the exhibition is a quotation from the writings of William Good, an English observer of the Irish in the 1560s.

The exhibition was initiated by Robbie Hannan (then Curator of Music at the UFTM), advised by Professor Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin of the University of Limerick (former Chairman of the ITMA Board). It was designed by Michael Donnelly of the UFTM, and featured specially commissioned photographs by Paul McCarthy (an independent photographer) and sound recordings by Glenn Cumiskey (then ITMA Sound Engineer), with additional recordings by Robbie Hannan, Niall Keegan (UL), and Paul Dooley, one of the featured performers. It was curated by Robbie Hannan in Cultra and by Nicholas Carolan (Director of the ITMA) in Dublin, with the assistance of Orla Henihan (then ITMA Visual Materials Officer). For further information on the life of the exhibition, see below.

The exhibition catalogue (produced by Robbie Hannan and Glenn Cumiskey) was a CD with the recordings and photographs featured in the exhibition, and with notes on the performers and material. It was only on sale in conjunction with the exhibition, and is now presented above.

After being opened in the UFTM in November 2000 by Roisín McDonough, Director of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, ‘They Love Music Mightily’ remained on exhibition there for a year before moving to the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks, Dublin. Managed there by Mairead Dunlevy, Keeper of Art & History in the NMI, and architect Niall Parsons of the Office of Public Works, in cooperation with ITMA staff, it was opened in November 2001 by Dr Ciarán Mac Mathúna of RTÉ Radio and Dr Pat Wallace, Director of the NMI. The exhibition was enlarged for its Dublin appearance by an exhibition of musical instruments from the collections of the NMI and ITMA, a film compiled from the Archives of RTÉ Television (with the cooperation of Cathal Goan, then Director of RTÉ Television and Chairman of the ITMA), a series of public talks – ‘What is Irish Traditional Music?’ (Nicholas Carolan), ‘Traditional Singing in Ireland’ (the late Tom Munnelly, Dept of Irish Folklore, University College Dublin, and former ITMA Chairman), and ‘The Story of Irish Dance’ (author Helen Brennan) – and a recital by Robbie Hannan, uilleann pipes, and three of the featured musicians: Mary MacNamara, concertina; Paul O’Shaughnessy, fiddle; and Paul Dooley, harp. In 2002 the exhibition ran in the Fermanagh County Museum in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh; in 2003 in the Glór music centre in Ennis, Co Clare; and from 2003 until 2004 in the Millennium Forum, Derry City. Having been dismantled and ended its terrestrial life, it begins a virtual existence on this website.

A gallery of the exhibition photographs by Paul McCarthy is available here.

With thanks especially to the thirteen performers who took part in the exhibition, to all listed above and otherwise who contributed to its success, and to the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum and Robbie Hannan, Head of Folklife and Agriculture at the UFTM

NC & DD, 1 October 2009