The National Folklore Collection originated through a combination of the Irish Folklore Institute (1930-35), the Irish Folklore Commission (1935-71), and the Department of Irish Folklore at UCD (1972-2005). Since 2015 the collection has resided administratively within UCD Library. In 2018 its collections were inscribed into the UNESCO ‘Memory of the World’ register. The National Folklore Collection actively records cultural history and is committed to documenting and preserving a record of the folklore and folklife of all communities in Ireland. The Collection continues to grow through active field recording and donations of audio and video recordings by members of the public. A great many singers and musicians were recorded by the Commission. Many of the 3,000 pages of original sheet music in the Collection are the work of Séamus Ennis, who was employed for several years by the Commission. These early recordings of music are complemented by the work of the folk music collector, Breandán Breathnach, whose extensive collection of music and song was transferred to University College Dublin in 1974. Members of Breathnach’s team of collectors, notably Tom Munnelly, were employed by UCD to continue this valuable collecting work. In this position, Tom Munnelly recorded over 1,500 tapes (over 20,000 songs) of folksong and folklore. It is one of the largest collections of traditional song compiled by a single individual and represents a significant contribution to the field of Irish folk music. The Irish Folk Music Section of the NFC is home to a collection of recordings, manuscripts, photographs and books dealing with almost every aspect of music, song and dance, including English-language songbooks from the 18th century, and an important collection of 19th century broadsheet ballads.
Dr. Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh