Tom Davis Collection

During his lifetime, Tom Davis recorded and amassed a remarkable archival collection. ITMA is indebted to his widow Eleanor who steadfastly supported Tom in his pursuits, and has generously donated Tom’s collection to ITMA. When fully catalogued and archived, it is likely to be one of the largest collections ever amassed by an individual collector.

Tom Davis Collection November 2021 crop
Tom Davis (1937-2013)

Born on the 21 September 1937 in Drumlish, Co. Longford, Tom played the piano accordion to a high standard but chose to devote himself almost exclusively to recording and collecting Irish traditional music and song. Affectionately known as "The Longford Collector" after the famous reel of the same title, Tom was a one-man collector with extraordinary energy and determination. Travelling to musical events throughout the country, he was indefatigable in his efforts to create his own archive.

Among the festivals he regularly attended were Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, Éigse Dhiarmuidín, Féile Joe Éinniú, and the Geordie Hanna Singing Weekend. As new recording equipment or the latest technology in cameras or technical gadgets came on the market, Tom invariably purchased them. It must be said that this was all at his own expense and involved a considerable long-term financial commitment.

Apart from the many singers he met at the various sessions and festivals, he was very friendly with accordion player, Martin Donohoe, pipers Tommy Reck and Seán McKiernan and his long term friends Séamus Mac Mathúna and Mick O’Connor, who all enjoyed his company and unique personality. He was a great character who held strong opinions on music and singing which he was not afraid to share!

Although he was very knowledgeable and informed about instrumental music, he had a particular grá for sean-nós singing and became increasingly drawn to the qualities of this aspect of our tradition. On occasion, his determination to record was a challenge to others but most people who knew him appreciated his passion and zeal for the music.

During his lifetime, he amassed an amazing archival collection and his widow, Eleanor who steadfastly supported Tom in his pursuits, has generously donated Tom’s collection to ITMA. When fully archived and catalogued, it is likely to be one of the largest individual collections ever amassed. It will prove to be a most valuable source of inspiration to students and researchers of Irish music for many generations to come.

Táimid uilig an bhuíoch do Tom, Eleanor agus a gclann, as ucht an saothar iontach seo a bhronnadh ar phobal an cheoil.

Liam O’Connor, Director ITMA