Amhráin Mhuighe Seóla

Amhráin Mhuighe Seóla: Traditional Folk-Songs from Galway and Mayo

Amhráin Mhuighe Seóla is a classic collection of traditional songs in the Irish language, one of the relatively few to contain notated melodies as well as words.

[tune titles listed below on left]

These songs were collected in Co Galway and Co Mayo by Mrs Eileen Costello (Eibhlín Bean Mhic Choisdealbha) of Tuam in the early 20th century, and were published by the Irish Folk Song Society in London in 1919 as a number of its journal, and again in Dublin in 1923 by The Talbot Press, commercial publishers. On a variety of themes, they are mainly love songs. Maigh Seola is an ancient territory between Loughrea and Headford in Co Galway.

Mrs Costello was born Edith Drury in 1870 in St Pancras workhouse in London, where her Limerick father worked as an attendant. Her mother was Welsh. She became a teacher, and was in the 1890s prominent in a number of the then many Irish cultural organisations in London. A highly active member of the Gaelic League from its London foundation in 1896, she learned Irish there. Her song collecting in the Irish language began in London (she first collected 'Neillí Bhán' on a train coming from Woolwich), but her collecting work really began in Ireland, in Tuam, where she came to live having in 1903 married a Dr Thomas Bodkin from the town. He was a medical doctor, historian, and fellow Gaelic Leaguer. Among her chief singers from 1904 was a Maggie Hession of Belclare, members of whose family are still involved in traditional music. Mrs Costello was active in the War of Independence and became a senator in the Irish Free State. She died in 1962. Although she supplied extensive source-notes to the songs and information on their backgrounds (with English translations mainly by others), her motivation was not academic. She intended her volume primarily 'for popular use in the schools and Gaelic League classes of Connacht'.

Amhráin Mhuighe Seóla, which had become a rare antiquarian volumehas been republished several times in paperback facsimile since 1990 by Cló Iar-Chonnachta. A more extensive biography of its compiler as 'Costello, Eileen' will be found at

The 84 melodies of the collection are now available here for playback and reading, and – a new feature of the Irish Traditional Music Archive system – in PDF format for convenient printing.

These melodies now bring to over 3,000 the number of traditional Irish melodies of all kinds available as interactive scores on the ITMA website.

NC, TH & JS, 29 July 2013

Tunes in this collection