Irish Melodies from The Citizen Magazine, 1840s

Notations of Irish traditional melodies have been published in Irish magazines and other periodicals since the 18th century, but one of the most important such bodies of melodies appeared in the 1840s, in the Dublin periodical The Citizen or Dublin Monthly Magazine.

This was a nationally minded general publication on political, literary and scientific subjects which appeared from 1839 to 1842, published by Samuel J. Machen of D’Olier St on behalf of a group of enthusiasts including Young Irelanders such as Thomas Davis.

In an annotated series of music supplements called ‘The Native Music of Ireland’, which commenced in January 1841 and ran to April 1843, 106 melodies were published in The Citizen. In an ‘anxiety to render it a Journal in every respect truly national’, the proprietors set out to give ‘a selection of Irish Melodies, chiefly such as have never before been published, with Vocal and Instrumental accompaniments, and new and original words’. The supplements are presented below from the collections of the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

The music editor of The Citizen was Henry Hudson (1798–1889), a Dublin dentist who was one of a group of important mid-19th-century collectors of Irish music from oral tradition. His manuscripts, which are now held in a number of repositories, contain over 900 tunes, including some which he composed himself in traditional idiom. Among the melodies he collected and published here are the first tunes to appear in print from the famous Galway uilleann piper Paddy Conneely.

With thanks to Mercedes Garvey for the donation of a volume of The Citizen, and to Dr Jimmy O’Brien Moran (author of the Ph.D. thesis Paddy Conneely – The Galway Piper: Legacy of a Pre-Famine Folk Musician, University of Limerick, 2006) for information. ITMA would welcome the donation of other materials of this kind which are not yet in its collections (check our catalogues here), or of their loan for copying.

NC & GT, 1 October 2011