ITMA ‑ our Digital Door is Open

ITMA Director Liam O'Connor highlights the range of services available to the traditional music community during the COVID-19 closure and takes you behind the scenes to meet staff working remotely.

A Chairde, 

ITMA is well placed to provide musical relief during these extraordinary times due to the COVID-19 Emergency. 

Our immediate priorities are to provide users with:

  • Free online public access;
  • Staff services for remote digital research;
  • Inspiring material through our ever-growing digital platform;
  • Highlights from our collections through social media and our website;
  • New resources arising from project partnerships with TG4, RTÉ and the National Library of Ireland.

Fortunately ITMA was well-prepared and had its contingency plan in place weeks before the Government announcements. Each member of staff is now working remotely with access to the files and software they need to continue delivering quality services. With our communications network allowing us stay in direct contact as we work, there is a great sense of team spirit to keep ITMA “open for business”. 

And there is certainly no shortage of work. Our latest Recent Publications & Acquisitions RPA shows the new collections which we have received over the past two months and we are continuing to buy and catalogue new publications where possible. But one thing about Archives, there are always backlogs so we are eager to use this time to process and catalogue existing collections and have them ready for you to discover and enjoy as soon as possible. 

As well as our exisiting services lots of ideas, new material and online services etc. are in the pipe-line and we will keep you updated regularly as these reach fruition. 

WEB ARCHIVING

ITMA Archivist Maeve Gebruers is taking time to progress a pilot-project she initiated with the National Library of Ireland (NLI) to archive and preserve older, at-risk Irish Traditional Music Websites (Irish Domain only ie .ie!). Websites unfortunately do not always remain active and updated so it is important that we preserve a snapshot of their digital presence for future generations. While we are working remotely, we will firstly create the ‘big list’ and gather as many .ie websites as we can that relate to Irish traditional music, song or dance. If you would like your website to be included in this list, please email [email protected] with the following subject heading: “ITMA/NLI ie Domain”. At the end of the process we will make a recommended shortlist of older, at-risk sites to be considered by the NLI Web Archive Team. Visit the NLI Web Archiving Project for more info.

NEW DIGITAL CONTENT

Project Manager Grace Toland is busy curating quality content from ITMA’s Field recordings and digital library to share daily on social media and our website. We hope this helps musicians, singers and dancers find inspiring material during a time when our users are social distancing or even cocooning themselves. We are also featuring the TG4 #Gems from the Archive series – video highlights from Gradam Ceoil Gala Concerts. 

One of the highlights for me in recent days was seeing, and indeed hearing, young Emer Ní Scolaí learn a tune from the 19th century Grier Collection which she accessed through ITMA’s digital scores in PORT, and then perform it so effortlessly. I wonder how Grier would feel if he knew that the tunes he collected during the 19th century were being given this new lease of life in the 21st century? There are 12,000 tunes awaiting your attention in PORT so please take the opportunity to follow Eimear’s example and discover a new tune for your repertoire.

BLOGS 

For those interested in research or longer reading, ITMA staff and guest researchers will provide plenty of longer articles. For example, read a blog on the Piano accordion in Irish traditional music or a history of the well-known tune St. Patrick’s Day. Lots of new material will be coming regularly online .

CONTACTING STAFF and RESEARCH QUERIES 

If you have a research query, please use our Query Form or you can contact individual Staff members directly from this list. As we are not physically working in 73 Merrion Square, we cannot take phone calls to 00 353 1 6619699.

We are very grateful to the support of the Arts Council of Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their continued and enlightened support during these times. 

The health and well-being of our users and staff is of paramount importance to ITMA. We wish you all good health and happiness during these unheralded times and hope that music, song and dance can provide some welcome solace.

Le dea-mhéin,

Liam

Liam O'Connor, ITMA Director