Now published: The Forde Collection: Irish Traditional Music from the William Forde Manuscripts

ITMA is delighted to announce the publication of a new book edited by Nicholas Carolan and Caitlín Uí Éigeartaigh. The Forde Collection presents 922 pieces of pre-Famine Irish traditional music noted in the 1840s by the Cork classical musician William Forde, with essays on the collector and the editorial procedures of the edition, appendices and indexes.

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The Forde Collection: Irish Traditional Music from the William Forde Manuscripts / Nicholas Carolan and Caitlín Uí Éigeartaigh, eds

William Forde (1797–1850), a native of Cork city, divided his professional life between Cork and London. As a performer he specialised in concert flute and piano, and he was also a composer and arranger, a promoter and musical director of concerts and festivals, a teacher of music and singing, an editor of numerous collections of classical and popular music for London publishers, and the author of a range of instructional manuals and theoretical works on music. But from 1840 Forde was increasingly attracted to the collection and study of Irish traditional music. Collecting at first in Munster, he later wrote music from Irish singers and musicians in London, and undertook a major collecting trip to Connacht during the Famine year of 1846. His collection of Irish melodies, the largest made until his time, remained unpublished at his death.

This edition of Forde’s Irish collection comprises the melodies he noted from live performance and the manuscripts of friends, arranged by source and chronologically to the extent possible. About two-thirds of the melodies are the airs of songs in Irish and English; the remainder are mainly jigs, harp tunes, marches, work-tunes and keens. A unique feature of the collection is Forde’s deliberate collecting of all the versions of a tune he could find.

ISBN 978-0-9532704-7-7 (hardback only); A4 format; lx + 380 pp.; price 40 euros.

Available to purchase from ITMA online shop and at ITMA premises 73 Merrion Square, Dublin 2. Postage extra at standard Irish rates.

Published 2021 by the Irish Traditional Music Archive / Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann, 73 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland, tel. +353-(0)1-661 9699, www.itma.ie with the financial assistance of the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The book was launched in ITMA premises on 16 December 2021 by Jimmy O'Brien Moran, and was attended by among others Nicholas Carolan, Caitlín Uí Éigeartaigh, Jackie Small and Maureen Kennelly, Director of the Arts Council. Music on the night was provided by James Landale, fiddle, and Emer Ní Scolaí, harp.

Watch a video of the launch event here: