1916 & the Decade of Centenaries: A Soundscape

26 Songs

This audio playlist has been curated by Irish Traditional Music Archive staff to provide a soundscape to the Decade of Centenaries. The selection reflects material of contemporary political, cultural and popular interest and is drawn from recordings held in the ITMA collections. The songs, music and speech come from wax cylinder and 78 rpm disc recordings, ranging in date from 1905−c.1940, which have been digitised by ITMA, and in the case of the wax cylinders by Henri Chamoux. They were originally recorded in Ireland, London and New York by early recording pioneers, the majority issued by commercial recording companies. 

The recordings provide a backdrop to a changing Ireland: the Gaelic League and the Irish-language revival, the First World War, the 1916 Rising, and Irish and international popular music of the day, including the first wave of popular Irish-American vaudeville instrumentalists.

We drew inspiration from printed resources (see Printed Collections February 2016) as well as the Irish Military Archives' Bureau of Military History Collection, 1913−1921. The witness statements are a rich source of information on songs, fundraising concerts, marching bands and individual musicians and singers of the period. Recordings made in Germany in 1917 of Irish prisoners of war are also an extremely valuable contemporary resource. Held in the Sound Archive of Humboldt University Berlin, these have been digitised and are poignantly described in an Irish Times article by Derek Scally and Ronan McGreevy available here.

You will find more information about each recording in the playlist by selecting the arrow key to the right of each title. This will bring you to the individual page for this audio piece. Here you will find composer names, recording labels, etc. which we have been able to source. Where possible we have linked to printed versions of the sound recordings which you can also view online.

This playlist is a sampler of the many sound recordings held in ITMA which reference events during the Decade of Centenaries. ITMA will continue to catalogue and highlight historical recordings while also documenting responses to the events of 1916 in 1966 and 2016.

GT, DD, BD & AW, 1 April 2016

An Giln Song Project from the Irish Traditional Music Archive, generously funded by the Arts Council of Ireland through its DEIS scheme